ECHL: Rapid City Rush Make Roster Changes in Hopes to Get Their First Home Win

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

The Rapid City Rush are currently 0-7-1 at home in the 2023-24 ECHL season and the only ECHL team yet to win on home ice. The Rush are back home this week and are looking to get a few home wins against the Wichita Thunder.

Last Time Out

The Rapid City Rush only had one game in their last series. They played the Wichita Thunder in Wichita, Kansas. The Rush looked pretty slow in the first and second periods and gave up an early first-period powerplay goal. But they were a different team for most of the third. The third period was a lot of back-and-forth hockey, with the Rush registering only six shots and the Thunder registering only eight shots. The Rush were able to find the back of the net with a goal from Alex Aleardi about six minutes into the third period. The Rush played pretty well in the third, except the last minute of the game. The Rush started to back off, and it ended up costing them the game with a goal for the Thunder with only seven seconds left in the game. The goal ended up giving Wichita a 2-1 over the Rush.
Late-period goals are something the Rush have struggled with giving up this season, and it has cost them games before. This is definitely an issue that the Rush will want to fix because as they get further into the season, it will end up costing them more games. In order to win, the team needs to find a way to play a full 60 minutes.

Special Teams

The Rapid City Rush have struggled with special teams all season thus far. But they have been especially bad at home, with both being last in the league. The Rush definitely don’t want to be a team that relies on scoring powerplay goals, but it would definitely benefit the team if they were able to find the back of the net every now and then. Special teams were no different in their game against the Wichita Thunder this past Sunday, as they went 0/3 on the powerplay and 2/3 on the penalty kill. In their previous series on the road against the Idaho Steelheads, they ended up going 0/8 on the powerplay and 6/9 on the penalty kill. Rapid City’s home powerplay is currently at 5.3%, and their overall powerplay is 12.5%, putting them at 26th in the league. Their home penalty kill is currently at 63.6%, and their overall powerplay is at 75.4%, which is 24th in the league.

New and Old Faces

In the last week, the Rush have seen a lot of movement with players coming and players leaving the team. The Rush have added three players to their roster: Brandon Yeamans, Ty Enns, and Chris Perna. The Rush also saw Jarrod Gourley return from his call-up to the Calgary Wranglers in the AHL.

The Rush signed forward Brandon Yeamans after he was released by the Allen Americans earlier in the season. Yeamans played in ten games with the Americans, where he had one assist for one point. He had 33 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -6. Yeamans has played in 88 ECHL games, where he has eight goals and six points for 14 points. He has 176 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -20. Yeamans played in his first game with the Rush on Sunday, but he did not register any points.

The Rush acquired forward Ty Enns in a trade with the Kansas City Mavericks. The Mavericks received cash considerations. Enns played in seven games with the Mavericks, where he had one goal and three assists for four points. The Manitoba Native has played in a total of 11 ECHL games, where he has one goal and five assists for six points. Enns debuted with the Rush on Sunday against the Thunder where he had zero goals and one assist for one point.

Defenseman Chris Perna was called up on a loan from the Quad City Storm of the SPHL. Perna played in seven games with the Storm, where he had two goals and five assists for seven points. He started the season with the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the SPHL. He played in three games where he had zero goals and two assists for two points. Perna has played in a total of 54 ECHL games, where he had zero goals and eight assists for eight points.

While up in the AHL, defenseman Jarrod Gourley did not get to play in any games with the Calgary Wranglers. Gourley has played in eight games for the Rush this season, where he has four goals and two assists for six points. Gourley has played in a total of 56 ECHL games, where he has scored nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points.

AHL Call-Ups and trades

While the Rush have acquired some new players, they have also lost a few players in, Carter Robertson, Conner Bleackley, Mark Duarte, and Connor Murphy.

The Rapid City Rush traded defenseman Carter Robertson to the Cincinnati Cyclones to complete the trade that saw the Rush acquire forward James Hardie. Robertson played in 17 games with the Rush in the 2023-24 season, where he had two goals and four assists for six points.

The Rush released forward Conner Bleackley from his contract and placed him on waivers. While with the Rush, Bleackley played in 13 games where he had zero goals and three assists for three points. He had two penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -8.

Forward Mark Duarte and goaltender Connor Murphy were both called up to the Calgary Wranglers in the AHL. Duarte played in 17 games with the Rush, where he had five goals and two assists for seven points. He had eight penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -1. Murphy played in nine games for the Rush, where he played for a total of 537 minutes and had a record of 4-5. He faced 298 shots where he had 267 saves and 31 goals against for a save percentage of .896 and a goals-against average of 3.47.

Upcoming Milestones

The Rapid City Rush have a couple of players who could be hitting some career milestones this weekend.

Tyson Helgesen could hit both 100 ECHL games played and 100 games played with the Rush. Helgesen has played in 97 ECHL games, all of which have been with the Rush. This season, Helgesen has played in 16 games with the Rush this season where he has one goal and three assists for four points. He has 16 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -2. Through his 97 games played, Helgesen has a total of four goals and 21 assists for 25 points. He has 146 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -3.

We could also see Brett Gravelle hit 100 ECHL points and 100 points with the Rush, as he currently sits at 98 ECHL points and 95 points with the Rush. This season, Gravelle has played in 18 games with the Rush, where he has three goals and six assists for nine points. He has eight penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +1. Gravelle has played in a total of 135 games with the Rush, where he has 43 goals and 52 assists for 95 points. He has 28 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +11. In his entire ECHL career, Gravelle has played in 136 games, where he has 45 goals and 53 assists for 98 points. He has 28 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +12.

This Week

The Rapid City Rush will faceoff against the Wichita Thunder for a 3-in-3 at home Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This season, the Rush have a record of 2-2 against the Thunder. This weekend will be a big weekend for the Rush as they still have yet to get a win on home ice as they are currently 0-7-1-0 at home. Wichita is coming into Rapid hot as they are on a four-game win streak and five-game point streak. Meanwhile, the Rush are coming into the weekend on a four-game losing streak and are looking to find their footing. A big focus for this weekend will not only be winning on home ice but also playing a full 60 minutes, executing on the powerplay, putting pucks on net, and staying out of the penalty box. If the Rush are able to do those four things, they should be able to get some wins this week in front of their friends.

The games on Thursday and Friday both start at 7:05 MST. Meanwhile, the game on Saturday is set to start at 4:05 MST.

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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