ECHL Opinion: Rapid City Rush End of Season Awards

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

The Rapid City Rush season came to an end earlier than wanted, but there were still a few players that had standout seasons.

Iron Man of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

The first award is the Iron Man Award. The Rush had five players who all played in all 72 games, making it a little harder to decide a winner. But if I had to choose only one player for this award, it would be Alex Aleardi.

Aleardi played in 72 games where he had 31 goals and 48 assists for 79 points with a plus/minus of -1 and 57 penalty minutes. Of his 31 goals, nine were powerplay goals, two were shorthanded, two were game winning goals, five were first goals and one was an insurance goal.

Aleardi was one of the only Rush players who played consistently all season and was the only player on the Rush to average more than a point a game, with an average of 1.10 points per game. Aleardi led the team in points with 16 points more than Blake Bennett, who had the second most amount of points on the team.

Forward of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

I picked Alex Aleardi for the forward of the year as well because of the incredible season he had. Aleardi broke the team’s records for points and assists in a single season in Rapid City’s ECHL era with his 48 assists and 79 points. The records were both previously held by Jesse Schultz, who had 43 assists and 77 points in the 2014-15 season. Aleardi finished the season ranked seventh in assists and sixth in points in the ECHL.

Rookie of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

Rookie of the season is a pretty obvious one, as Blake Bennett also set a record of his own. Bennett also played in all 72 games, where he had 35 goals and 28 assists for 63 points. He had 38 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -8. With his 35 goals, Bennett broke the team’s record for most goals in a single season in their ECHL era, which was previously held by Jesse Schultz, who had 34 goals in the 2014-15 season.

Bennett had a very impressive rookie season with the Rush and had a big impact on the team. Not only is he able to score, but he also has a lot of speed, which helped in many of his goals. He was also able to use his speed to set himself up to receive passes, get breakaways, and also help prevent breakaways.

Offensive Defenseman of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

Zach Taylor joined the Rush pretty late in the season after he finished his collegiate season at Brock University. But even though he was a latecomer, he was able to find his game almost immediately. Taylor only played seven games with the Rush, but he had one goal and six assists for seven points. He also had only four penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +4.

When Taylor joined the team, he made an immediate impact. He made it very hard to tell that he was not with the team the whole season, as he had almost immediate chemistry with the guys on the ice. He was able to set his teammates up for goals and was able to use his speed to find ways to score as well. Defensively, Taylor was not scared to be a little aggressive for the puck allowing him to pick the puck off of opposing players sticks to help prevent chances for the opposing team and to create chances for the Rush.

Defensive Defenseman of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

Even though his season was cut short due to an upper-body injury, Charles Martin had an incredible rookie season with the Rush. He played in 42 games where he had three goals and 21 assists for 24 points. He had 22 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +5, which was tied with Logan Nelson for the best plus/minus on the team.

Martin did spend some time with the Rush at the end of last season after his collegiate career and started out really good and he continued to excel during this season as well. While Martin was great offensively, he was still really good when it came to the defensive side of the game, rarely letting his offensive side negatively affect his defensive side of his game. Martin had a lot of speed that allowed him to cover mistakes made by the team on the ice and allowed for him to help prevent breakaways and man advantages for the opposing team. Even though he was still a rookie, Martin made it very hard to tell that he was a rookie in most games.

Goaltender of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

In his first professional season, Matt Radomsky found great success with the Rapid City Rush. He played in 41 games, with a record of 16-22-2, two shutouts, and 2286 minutes on ice. Radomsky faced 1342 shots, made 1193 saves, and allowed 149 goals for a save percentage of .889 and a goals-against average of 3.91.

While Radomsky did allow the most goals out of the goalies in the league, he also faced the most shots. When taking into consideration that he was a rookie as well, it is an amazing accomplishment for Radomsky to face as many shots as he did and make as many saves as he did. Radomsky was a brick wall for the Rush at times and was able to bail the team out a lot, allowing for them to secure some of the wins they had throughout the season. When the defense was not performing well in front of him, and the offense was not getting their job done, Radomsky was able to step up his game to at least give the Rush a chance to win.

Unsung Hero of the Season

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

Christian Propp joined the Rush late in the season after finishing his collegiate career at Wilfrid Laurier University. Propp played in nine games for the Rush, where he had a record of 5-3-1 and 537 minutes of ice time. Propp faced 296 shots, saving 266 and allowing 30 goals for a save percentage of .899 and a goals-against average of 3.35.

Propp was only with the Rush for about the last month of the season, but he was able to make the transition from college to professional hockey look very smooth and seamless as he came in and was solid in net right away. Propp came to the Rush to be the backup to Matt Radomsky, but after an injury took Radomsky out, Propp had to step up and be the starting goaltender instead of backup. Propp jumped into the starting goaltender spot and ran with it, making the most of his opportunity. Propp joined the Rush when they were really struggling on both offense and defense, and with his incredible saves and poise in net, he was able to help the Rush attempt at making a playoff push towards the end of the season.

Plus/Minus Player of the Year

Logan Nelson and Charles Martin were both tied for Rapid City’s best plus/minus of the season with +5. While both players had their seasons ended early due to injury, they both had really good seasons in their respective positions when they were playing.

Charles Martin was in his rookie season, but he did get some playing time with the Rush last season after his collegiate season ended. When he started this season, Martin picked up right where he left off at the end of last season and continued to find success on the ice through all 42 games he played.

Logan Nelson played in a total of 58 games, scoring 17 goals and 39 assists for 56 points. He had 22 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +5. Nelson did not end the season the way he may have wanted it to with his injury, but when he was playing, he was able to find a lot of success, averaging almost a point a game, with 56 points in 58 games. Even though he is a forward, Nelson still had a pretty good defensive game to keep his plus/minus above zero throughout the season.

Felicity Harding

Hello! I'm Felicity and I mainly cover the Rapid City Rush in the ECHL here at Inside the Rink. You can find me on Instagram and X/Twitter at @fharding05

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