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Game Notes: February 14 - Idaho Steelheads at Rush

February 14, 2024 - ECHL (ECHL)
Rapid City Rush News Release


(RAPID CITY, S.D.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, square off against the Idaho Steelheads this morning at 10:35 a.m. from The Monument.

The Steelheads are the league's top offensive team, but Rapid City has defeated them once this season and driven them to the brink in overtime as well. The two rivals see each other more than any other single opponent this season.

GOOD MORNING RAPID CITY

The Rapid City Rush find themselves kicking off the week early with their annual School Day Game, presented by Black Hills Energy, hosting their rival, the Idaho Steelheads. The Rush have not yet defeated the Steelheads on home ice, but find themselves in a position needing a win. In the ten games since the All-Star break, the Rush have won two games, both vs. Maine. Rapid City is three points out of a tie for fourth in the division, leaving the playoffs a definite possibility as Rapid City heads to their final third of the season.

NEW FACE ON THE BLUELINE

The Rush picked up defenseman Cooper Jones in a trade with Idaho prior to today's contest. Jones has two assists in 18 ECHL games this season, all with Idaho. The Massachusetts-born blueliner has nine points (2g, 7a) with the SPHL's Pensacola Ice Flyers this season as well. Jones is coming in to help a Rush defensive corps that was outscored 11-3 during the last series against Kansas City.

BOY WONDER

Despite going 2-3-0 in their last five games, Simon Boyko has a five-game goal scoring streak for the Rush. Boyko is already riding a 20-game point streak that is still active with the SPHL's Fayetteville Marksmen, but already has set the longest goal-scoring streak for the Rush this season. Boyko has seven points in eight games with the Rush since being signed at the end of January.

RIDING THE G-WAGON

Riley Ginnell scored his first professional goal in Saturday's game. Ginnell, a Calgary native, now has three points in the last five games for the Rush. After starting the season with an extended trip to the injured reserve, Ginnell has been a mainstay in the Rush lineup, garnering 22 appearances in his rookie season. Last year, Ginnell wrapped up his junior career by playing on the same line with Chicago Blackhawk Connor Bedard.

HOOKED, BUT NOT LANDED

Despite their 1-6-1 record this season, the Rush have fought the Steelheads hard this season. In eight meetings this season, the Rush have had four leads and have only been able to convert one to a victory. Brian Thomson was brilliant during the last Idaho visit, turning in back-to-back 30-plus save performances, despite the Rush outshooting the Steelheads in both games. Rapid City has also given up two hat tricks to the Steelheads (A.J. White and Willie Knierim) - if those hat tricks were subtracted out, the games would be left in a tie or better for the Rush.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Matt Radomsky continues to lead the ECHL in total saves with 869 and is fourth in overall minutes with a 12-14-2 record this season. Radomsky was in net for an overtime loss against Idaho on December 13 becoming the first Rush goaltender to knock a point of the Steelheads this year. Jason Pawloski, who is 2-1-0 in his three starts defeated the Steelheads in his only start against them on December 16.

WHAT LIES AHEAD...

The schedule does no favors for the Rush who will hit the two-thirds mark of their season on Friday. The Steelheads are the fifth-place team in the ECHL, and the next Rapid City opponent (Greenville) is the fourth place team in the league. Of the 26 games remaining, 20 of them come inside the division for the Rush. To this point, the Rush are 10-23-2 inside Mountain Division play.

SCORING FIRST IS A BIG DEAL

The Rush have scored first 26 times this year, and have logged 15 of their 19 wins when scoring first this season. Idaho has opened the scoring in their games 27 times this year and is a staggering 22-3-1-1 when opening the scoring. The Rush defeated Maine on February 3 after giving up the first goal, but prior to that win - the Rush had not won without scoring first since December 9.

HOME COOKING

Of their 26 games left, the Rush play 15 of them at home. The backlog of home games affords the Rush a six-game homestand at the end of March against Allen and Utah, the two teams immediate ahead of the Rush in the Mountain Division. Rapid City has eight wins at home this year, but has not won at home since January 13 over Fort Wayne. The Rush won 20 games at home last season, the best home win total since the team joined the ECHL in 2014-15.

THE RIGHT BAIT

Despite being the number one scoring team in the ECHL, the Steelheads are below the median of in goals allowed per game. The Rush have scored three goals or more against Idaho in four games this season, and have scored more than three twice. The more-than-three goal performances account for both games Rapid City has earned points against the Steelheads.


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