Game Notes: December 7 - Wichita Thunder at Rush

December 7, 2023 - ECHL (ECHL) - Rapid City Rush News Release

(RAPID CITY, S.D.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, are set to host the Wichita Thunder on Thursday night from The Monument.

The Rush are winless at home this season and trail Wichita by seven points in the ECHL Mountain Division for the fourth and final playoff seed. However, Rapid City has four games in hand over the Thunder and will enjoy 25 remaining home games following the holiday break. The Rush do not travel back to Wichita this season.


The Rapid City Rush are on their third four-game losing streak of the season after hard-fought clashes with division leading Idaho two weeks ago, and Wichita who won in the final seconds of Sunday's tilt. The Rush are 0-7-1 at home this season and have lost their last 10 home games dating back to last year. However, the Rush are 2-2-0 vs. Wichita on the season, including a seven goal explosion in a 7-5 win in Wichita earlier this year.


22 of Wichita's 69 goals this season have come via the powerplay - that is nearly one-third of every goal scored for the Thunder coming on the man advantage. The Rush killed two-of-three at INTRUST Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 loss. The Rush are goal-less in the last four games on the powerplay, but created net-front chances on Sunday. The Thunder PK unit is only operating at 77.2 percent, leaving the Rush chances on the powerplay this weekend.


After the three-game set at home vs. the Thunder, Rapid City hits the road again for their longest road trip of the season - a 12-day, six-game, two-city trip to face division-leader Idaho and a scrappy Allen group. When they return after the holiday break, the Rush will enjoy 25 games at home, including 22 after the turn of the calendar year. The only other six-game road trip comes at the end of January into February between Utah and Maine.


The Rush are burgeoning on some individual history for three of their players. Alex Aleardi is now just 17 points shy of 200 career ECHL points (10 goals shy of 100 ECHL goals, seven assists shy of 100 career ECHL assists). Brett Gravelle needs just two points to eclipse 100 career ECHL points, and Tyson Helgesen is set to play in his 100th ECHL career game on Saturday night.


Alex Aleardi is one point shy of being a point-per-game player for the Rush. Aleardi has logged points in five of his last six games, including goals in three of the last four.

Logan Nelson's assist on Sunday moved him into sole possession of second-place on the team in assists (9), just one behind Aleardi (10). Nelson's helper also moved him into second place for the Rush in points.


The Rush will exclusively face the Thunder at home for the rest of the season - this set of three games and the final series of the season in April. The Thunder have struggled on the road this season, winning only three games in 12 tries. Wichita has played more games than any team in the division and the Rush have three "games in hand" over the Thunder who hold the final playoff spot by seven standings points. "It's important for us to win the week," said Head Coach Scott Burt. "If you win more weeks than you lose, you're going to be there for a playoff spot at the end."


At one point, the Rush were giving up eight more shots than they took on average. However, the Rush have shrunk that disparity on only a -4.2 shot differential per game, the lowest since the beginning of the season. Rush opponents have failed to reach 30 shots on goal in four of their last seven games. Wichita has hit 30 shots in only one of four meetings between the two teams this year.


Keanu Yamamoto sits third in team assists currently with 8. The returning forward has found success with Logan Nelson - capitalizing on that connection for four of his 12 points this season. Yamamoto is on pace to break his assist total last season (27) and is nearing the pace to be a 50-point scorer this season.


While Connor Murphy has been recalled by Calgary, Matt Radomsky will slide between the pipes for the first time in three games. Radomsky battled a potent Idaho offense deep into the third period before the Rush fell in a tight game in his last appearance. No stranger to workload, Radomsky made five consecutive starts earlier this season already. Jason Pawloski will also be suiting up for his second series to dress this season. Pawloski won 27 games over the last two seasons in the SPHL and is hungry for an opportunity. "I've told him just to be ready. Opportunities come all the time and his will be coming," said Head Coach Scott Burt.


After a bumper crop of roster adjustment following the Idaho series, rookie forward Ty Enns along with Brandon Yeamans and Chris Perna are set to make their home debuts this weekend. Enns tallied an assist on Sunday to tie the game at one in the third period. Yeamans brought attitude and physicality to challenge a speedy Wichita forward corps. Perna will be making his ECHL-season debut after spending last season as a day-in, day-out defenseman for Tulsa.


The headline was Scott Burt's quote in his pre-game comments two Fridays ago before facing Idaho. The statistics for the Rush don't paint the most accurate picture of how close this team is to breaking through this season. Though the team is 0-8-0 when trailing entering the third period, in five of those eight they trailed by only a goal. Rapid City has ceded five goals against only twice this season (excluding empty netters). Three times this season the Rush have come back to tie a game in the third period before falling in close fashion. As the season nears the one-third mark of the year, there is no panic in the Rush dressing room and less roster movement compared to other teams in the division.

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