ECHL Series Preview: Rapid City Rush vs. Idaho Steelheads | 02/14-17/2024

Latoya Fournier/InsideTheRink

The Rapid City Rush are welcoming the Idaho Steelheads to Rapid City this week for a three game series.

Last Week

Last week, the Rapid City Rush faced off at home against the Kansas City Mavericks. The Rush got swept by the Mavericks with final scores of 7-1 and 4-2. Even though they were not able to pull off the win, the Rush did play a much better game Saturday night than they did Friday night. While the Rush did not find a lot of success on the powerplay, going 1/8 on the weekend, they were able to find success on the penalty kill, going 5/6 on the weekend. The Rush were able to find more ways to get shots on net, as they had 30 on Friday and 40 on Saturday. The Rush proved that they can play with the top team in the league and can now take the growing momentum into the series against the Idaho Steelheads, who are fifth in the league.

Milestones

Rush defenseman Zack Hoffman could play in his 100th ECHL game, as he currently sits at 97 games played. This season, Hoffman has played in 45 games with the Rush, where he has one goal and five assists for six points. He has 56 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -3. Through 97 ECHL games played, he has one goal and 11 assists for 12 points. He has 125 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -14.

Rush forward Alex Aleardi could hit 100 ECHL goals as he currently sits at 99 goals. This season, he has played in 46 games for the Rush, with 16 goals and 29 assists for 45 points. He has 36 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -2. Aleardi has played in 218 ECHL games, where he has 99 goals and 112 assists for 211 points. He has 136 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +16.

If activated from injured reserve, defenseman TJ Fergus could play in his 100th ECHL game, as he currently sits at 98. This season, Fergus has played in 36 games for the Rush, where he has two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. He has ten penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -6. In 98 ECHL games played, Fergus has six goals and 32 assists for 38 points. He has 18 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -7.

Players to Watch

One player to watch is Rush forward Simon Boyko. Boyko is currently on a five-game goal and point streak. In the five games of his streak, he has five goals and two assists for seven points. This season, Boyko has played eight games with the Rush, where he has five goals and two assists for seven points. He has zero penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +1.

Another player to watch is Rush forward Riley Ginnell. Ginnell is not on a point streak. But he got his first career goal against the Mavericks on Saturday and registered his first career points with a couple assists the week prior against Maine. With Ginnell getting the monkey off his back, we can expect to see some more offense coming from him in upcoming games.

New Faces

The Rush announced earlier this week that they have acquired defenseman Cooper Jones from the Idaho Steelheads in exchange for cash. Jones started the season in the SPHL, where he played with the Pensacola Ice Flyers. In 14 games with the Ice Flyers, he had two goals and seven assists for nine points. He had eight penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -3. On December 14, 2023, he was called up to the Idaho Steelheads, where he played in 18 games. With the Steelheads, he had two assists. Jones has played in the ECHL in three different seasons and has played in a total of 59 games where he has zero goals and four assists for four points. He has six penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -22.

Cooper Jones is a pretty good defenseman that has a pretty good shot from the blue line and can defend in front of the net pretty well. It is unknown as to when he will play with the Rush as he was on injured reserve in Idaho and was activated to be traded to the Rush.

This Week

This week, the Rush are still at home, but they will be taking on the Idaho Steelheads. The Steelheads are second in the Mountain Division and fifth in the ECHL. They have a record of 30-13-2-1 for 63 points and a win percentage of .685. They are 15-6-0-0 on the road and are 7-2-1-0 in their last ten games. They are also currently on a five-game point streak with a record of 4-0-1-0 in that time. The Rush are sixth in the Mountain Division with a record of 19-25-2-0 for 40 points and a win percentage of .435. They are 8-12-1-0 at home this season are are 2-8-0-0 in their last ten. The Rush are currently on a three-game losing streak and are 1-6-1-0 against the Steelheads this season.

This week is going to be a hard week for the Rush against the Steelheads, but they were able to play pretty well against the Mavericks this past week. The Steelheads are a really good team that will make it hard for the Rush to beat them, but as long as the Rush control the game and puck and continue to shoot and score, they may be able to take some points from the series. Games against Idaho are always very physical games, so we can expect to see both teams playing a very physical game as Idaho looks to take over the number one spot in the division and the Rush look to make a push for a playoff spot.

The series will kick off early Wednesday for Rapid City’s School Day Game, with puck drop at 10:35 a.m. MST. It will continue on Friday with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. MST and wrap up on Saturday with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. 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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