Going into the 2020-21 ECHL season, complications were all but inevitable. For the Rapid City Rush, those complications arrived almost immediately.
Leading up to the Rush’s weekend in Allen, it was announced that eight players from the weekend roster were placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Eric Israel and Joey Sides were put on injured reserve. Chaos was unleashed on the Rapid City lineup.
To mitigate some of losses, the organization made several additions throughout the week. Charles Curti was signed from Adirondack, Ian Edmondson from Kalamazoo, Kevin Spinozzi from Toledo, Mikael Tam from the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star, Drew Callin from the Worcester Railers, Craig Patano from Northeastern University and Corey Durocher off of waivers from Allen. Garrett Klotz joined the team as well, having been activated from the Commissioner’s Exempt List.
Even with the acquisitions, the Rush were still only able to ice 14 skaters for both games against the Americans. Rapid City lost 5-2 on Friday and then lost 3-2 on Saturday despite leading 2-1 in the third period. Adam Carlson started both games and played admirably for his shorthanded squad, saving 78 shots and keeping his team in each game until the third period.
On Friday, the Americans struck quickly and took a 3-0 lead in the first period. The Rush would work to equal the contest, as new additions Tyson Empey and Drew Callin each scored their first goals in Rapid City uniforms. Allen would pull away from there, however, scoring the last two goals despite Rapid City’s late barrage of shots of net.
On Saturday, it would be the Rush who made their mark first. Alex Rodriguez scored his first of the season, but his tally was answered quickly by Samuel Laberge of the Allen Americans. Gabe Chabot earned his first pro goal shortly thereafter, giving the Rapid City a 2-1 edge going into the third.
But the 14-man lineup could only keep up for so long. Allen outshot Rapid City 12-5 in the third, Nolan Kneen and Tyler Sheehy each scored and the Americans edged the Rush 3-2. It was an admirable performance from a 14-man roster that had limited time to practice together. But moral victories can’t be found in the stats column and Rapid City is now 1-3-0-0 to start the year. Fortunately, the holidays have arrived and the team now has the chance to heal and be reacclimated.
This difficult week could certainly prove to a blessing in disguise. Several of the acquired players played well for the Rush this weekend and could give the team a much deeper lineup when it is back at full strength.
Rapid City returns to action against the Utah Grizzlies on December 31st. Puck drop on the road at Maverik Center is scheduled to fall at 7:00pmET.