Rush Add Leibinger to Roster for Next Season
(RAPID CITY, SD) - The Rapid City Rush announced today that defenseman Chris Leibinger has been signed for the upcoming 2018-19 ECHL season. Leibinger marks the first "new" player announced this season, with previously announced forwards Garrett Klotz and Shaquille Merasty, and defensemen Josh Elmes and Brayden Sherbinin returning from last season's roster.
Leibinger comes to the Rush after completing his rookie season in the ECHL, in which all but 5 games were played with the Rush's Mountain Division rival, the Utah Grizzlies. The 5'10", 185-pound blue-liner started the first five games of the year with the Quad City Mallards, with whom he played five games with the previous season following the conclusion of his NCAA career. After registering a lone assist with "The Flock", Leibinger was then traded to Utah, where he exploded for 22 points in 40 games (4g-18ast). He finished as the third-best scorer amongst defenseman on the Utah roster, and also finished tied for 12th in the ECHL in scoring amongst rookie defenseman.
"I loved playing in Rapid City when we were on the road. I liked the crowd and city, talked to former teammates that played here and they said that this is a great spot. After talking to Coach Tetrault, it seemed like a good fit and I'm very happy to be on board," Leibinger said of his commitment to Rapid City for next year. "Regarding my success as a rookie last year, confidence was key. Once you get playing time and turn it into quality shifts and points, confidence builds. You play solid defensively and not get scored on, confidence builds. Eventually, the coach has the confidence in you to contribute on special teams, and before you know it, you're rolling. For the Rush, I'll bring hard work, speed, playmaking ability, and make sure to take good care of my own zone defensively. Playing in the Mountain division last year prepared me well for my career moving forward. The last three ECHL champions have come from our division, so there are absolutely no nights off, and every game is a great game. You have to be ready to go every night, and I will be when the puck drops in October for the Rush."
"Chris was a thorn in our side last year in the head-to-head series against Utah. No doubt, I'm very excited to have a player and person of his caliber in our locker room," Rush Head Coach Daniel Tetrault explained of Leibinger's arrival to the roster. "The big thing with 'Binger' is his skating, passing, and great hockey sense. Chris is a tough competitor that can move the puck effortlessly, which will be crucial for both my breakouts and power play schemes. He knows the division well, and that knowledge will prove beneficial to our chances to compete for a title next season."
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Leibinger, 24, turned professional after playing NCAA hockey at Michigan Tech. With the Huskies, he compiled 35 points in 158 games (13g-22ast), registered an impressive +41 rating, won the 2017 WCHA Championship, and was named to the 2016 WCHA All-Academic Team.
For more information on season ticket packages for our 11th season of hockey in the Black Hills, call the Rush office at 716-7825.
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