Rush Clear Six New Players for Weekend against Tulsa
(RAPID CITY, SD) - The Rapid City Rush, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes, announced another flurry of Black Hills Chiropractic Roster Adjustments as the team prepares for its "three-in-three" this weekend against the Tulsa Oilers.
Joining the Rush via signings are forwards Mike Hedden, Hunter Garlent, and Stephen Baylis, defensemen Butrus Ghafari and Nate Kallen, and goaltender Gordy Defiel. In separate transactions, forward Alex Rodriguez, and defensemen Brandon Fehd and Dominic Cormier have been released from their contracts.
Hedden originally signed with the Rush during the offseason and retired prior to the start of the 2020-21 campaign. Now out of retirement, he joins the Rush following a 2019-20 campaign in which he played for the Allen Americans and Jacksonville Icemen. The 5'11", 190-pound forward notched a goal in 4 games with the Americans before finishing the season with the Icemen, where he earned nearly a point-per-game average with 42 points (16g-26ast) in 44 games. A native of Dunnville, Ontario, Hedden has played all over the world in his now 12-year career in the ECHL and AHL in North America, the KHL in Croatia, Liiga in Finland, the DEL in Germany, and the EIHL in Wales. Most of his professional experience comes from the AHL, where he tabulated 56 goals, 71 assists, and 127 points in 210 games, along with a +28 rating with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Rockford IceHogs, Rochester Americans, and Texas Stars. As a member of the Stars in the 2013-14 season, Hedden won the 2014 Calder Cup Championship, finishing the title run tied for second in playoff scoring (19 points in 21 games), and tied for first as the playoffs goal-scoring leader with 9 tallies. Overall in his professional career, Hedden has 199 goals, 245 assists, and 444 points in 646 games. Prior to playing professionally, Hedden was a teammate of Assistant Coach Jeremy Gates at NCAA-III Neumann University, earning 163 points (97g-67ast) in 108 games, and winning the 2009 NCAA-III National Championship
Garlent joins the Rush following a successful rookie season last year with the ECHL's Florida Everblades. The 5'9", 180-pound forward registered 17 goals, 27 assists, and 44 points in 54 games, earning a +31 rating in the process. Before turning professional last season, Garlent played three seasons of Canadian college hockey with USports Saint Mary's University. As a member of the Huskies, he compiled 131 points in 90 games, averaging over an assist-per-game with 91 helpers to his credit. He was a three-time AUS First All-Star Team selection, a three-time All-Canadian Team selection, won AUS Rookie of the Year in 2017, and led all of USports with 33 assists in his final campaign in 2019. Prior to his college career, Garlent, a native of St. Catherine's, Ontario, played three seasons of major-junior hockey in the OHL with the Guelph Storm and Peterborough Petes, earning 107 goals, 162 assists, 269 points, and a +41 rating in 292 games.
Baylis comes to the Rush after playing his first professional season with the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets and AHL's Ontario Reign. The 6'1", 200-pound forward played in a pair of games with the Reign, and spent the rest of the season with the Komets, earning 3 goals and 13 points in 46 contests. Before becoming a professional, Baylis played four years of NCAA hockey with Bowling Green State University, earning 89 points in 152 games, and served as the Captain as a senior in 2018-19. Prior to his college hockey career, the native of Ottawa, Ontario played four seasons of junior hockey with the CCHL's Carleton Place Canadians. There, he helped the Canadians to back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, and won 2015 Most Valuable Player honors with 64 points in 54 games.
Ghafari begins his first full season of professional hockey with the Rush. On March 11, 2020, the 5'10", 200-pound blue-liner made his professional debut with the Toledo Walleye. Prior to his lone ECHL game, Ghafari, a native of West Bloomfield, Michigan, finished his NCAA hockey career with Michigan State University, where he earned career totals of 4 goals and 9 points in 114 games as a Spartan. He also played four seasons of junior hockey in the USHL with the Fargo Force and Bloomington Thunder, registering 39 points and a +21 rating in 200 games.
Kallen also begins his first full season of professional hockey with the Rush entering this weekend. The 6'0", 190-pound defenseman made his professional debut last year with the ECHL's Maine Mariners, appearing in three contests. Before turning professional, Kallen played four years of NCAA hockey at Ferris State University, serving as the Captain in his 2019-20 senior season. With the Bulldogs, he compiled career totals of 20 goals, 44 assists, and 60 points in 146 games. The San Diego, California native also played one season of USHL hockey with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, amassing 17 points in 59 contests.
Defiel returns to the Rush after finishing the 2019-20 season with the club. The 6'0", 197-pound goaltender was signed by the Rush in January of 2020 after a pair of appearances with the Indy Fuel. From there, Defiel proved to be a key component of the Rush's second half success, posting a 5-3-2-1 record in 13 games with 2.58 GAA and .925%. A native of Stillwater, Minnesota, Defiel enters his third season as a professional, split between the ECHL and the SPHL. In his time in the "Premier 'AA' Hockey League", he has amassed a record of 12-16-2-1, with 1 shutout, a 3.01 GAA, and .910 SV% in 37 games with the Rush, Fuel, South Carolina Stingrays, and Orlando Solar Bears. Prior to turning professional, Defiel played three seasons of NCAA college hockey with Lake Superior State University, and posted a career record of 30-55-12 in 98 games, with 7 shutouts, a 2.91 GAA and .914 SV%. In the 2015-16 season with the Lakers, he was selected to the WCHA All-Academic Team and WCHA Third All-Star Team.
The Rush continue their eight-game homestand with a "three-in-three" this weekend against the Tulsa Oilers, marking the long-time rivals first head-to-head showdowns of the 2020-21 season. Puck drop for Friday, January 15th and Saturday, January 16th, is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT, while Sunday's series finale on January 17th is slated for 4:05 p.m. MDT.
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