ECHL Series Preview: Rapid City Rush vs. Idaho Steelheads | 04/03-06/2024

Latoya Fournier/InsideTheRink

The Rapid City Rush are gearing up for their last road series of the season, which will be against the Idaho Steelheads in Boise, Idaho.

Last Week

Last week, the Rapid City Rush were at home for a three-game series against the Allen Americans. Rapid City was able to take five out of a possible six points in the series with a 5-2 win, a 6-3 win, and a 3-4 overtime loss. The Rapid City Rush played extremely well against the Americans in the first two games and were able to control the puck and the speed of the game better than they have in previous games. The Rush were able to outshoot the Americans in all three games: 37-29, 53-42, and 37-24. They had more accurate shots the whole weekend, as they seemed to be actually shooting to score, not just shooting to get shots on the board. The Rush also saw major improvements on their penalty kill as they were able to go 8/9 on the penalty kill and they also found some success on the powerplay going 3/11.

Milestones

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 36 games for the Rush, with two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. He has ten penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -6. In 98 ECHL games, Fergus has six goals and 32 assists for 38 points. He has 18 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -7.

Hot Hands

The Rush do not have any players on point streaks anymore, but they did have a few players really show up offensively this past series against the Allen Americans. Rush forward, Brett Davis, had three assists for three points in three games against the Americans. Davis has played in a total of 11 games with the Rush where he has two goals and seven assists for nine points this season. He has four penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -1.

Newly acquired Rush defenseman Zach Taylor had three assists for three points in the two games he played against the Americans. In four games played with the Rush, Taylor has zero goals and four assists for four points. He has zero penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +4.

Rush forward Mark Duarte had two goals and two assists for four points in one of his games played against the Americans. Duarte has played in 32 games for the Rush this season where he has 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points. He has 12 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of +8.

Rush forward, Blake Bennett, had three goals and four assists for seven points in his three games against Allen last series. This season, Bennett has played in all 66 games for the Rush where he has 33 goals and 24 assists for 57 points. He has 34 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -12.

Rush forward, Alex Aleardi, had two goals and four assists for six points in the three games against the Allen Americans. Aleardi has also played in all 66 games for the Rush this season, where he has 27 goals and 44 assists for 71 points. He has 55 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -6.

This Week

This week, the Rapid City Rush are heading to Boise, Idaho to take on the Idaho Steelheads. This season, the Rush are 1-9-1-0 against the Steelheads. Currently, the Steelheads are second in the Mountain Division with a record of 43-20-2-2 for 90 points and a win percentage of .672. They are 19-9-2-1 at home this season. The Steelheads are 5-4-0-1 in their last ten games played and are currently on a two-game losing streak, which could be good or bad news for the Rush. Rapid City is currently sixth in the Mountain Division with a record of 27-35-4-0 for 58 points and a win percentage of .439. The Rush are 15-16-2-0 on the road this season and are 6-2-2-0 in their last ten games played. The Rush are coming into this series on a five game point streak with a record of 4-0-1-0 in that time.

This series is a HUGE series for the Rush. The Rush have very clearly not faired well against the Steelheads this season, and being swept in this series would mean the Rush are eliminated from playoff contention. The Rush have their backs against the wall and will be in do-or-die mode this series. That being said, the Rush can beat the Steelheads as they have done it before. This is also a very different team than what the Rush were the last time they played the Steelheads, so they should be able to come out with a lot more fire. The good news for the Rush is that the Steelheads have been struggling more recently. But, bad news for the Rush is that it could mean they, too, come out with extra fire as well in this series, making it that much harder for the Rush to try and make a playoff push. Idaho is a team that likes to play a physical and in-your-face type of game. The Rush are going to have to also step up their physicality this series and find a way to beat the Steelheads. Any loss of points this series put the Rush that much closer to elimination from playoff contention.

The series starts Wednesday, April 3, with puck drop at 7:10 pm MDT. The series will then continue Friday, April 5, and the series will wrap up Saturday, April 6, with puck drop at 7:10 pm MDT both nights.

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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