Rush season started Friday

The Rush played Utah Grizzlies in their first game since March 7.
Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 5:48 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - March 7th was the last time the Rapid City Rush were on the ice for a game. They lost 7 to 4 against the Utah Grizzlies.

But fast forward nine months, and the Rush dropped the puck on Friday for the first game of the season, coincidentally against Utah.

“They’re so pumped,” said Todd Mackin, President of the Rapid City Rush. “They’re so excited to be back. It’s like a kid at Christmas, waking up today, and knowing that we’re going to play hockey.”

Bringing hockey back to the Black Hills was a process

“I think we’re really excited to be one of the 13 teams kicking off in North America,” said Mackin. “I think we have a real challenge ahead of us, but also a real privilege and a responsibility, and we take that very seriously. We want to do everything right. we are kind of the first group back, so everybody is looking at us-- all eyes are on us. Our NHL affiliates, they’re watching how we’re doing this.”

In an effort to keep everyone safe, Mackin said changes were made. Entrances are staggered, masks are recommended, access to players restricted, staff has new procedures, certain seats are socially distanced, there is more sanitation, and fans can order food and drinks on their phones via Q-R codes.

Players are tested twice a week, and are not spending as much time at the rink. Before players came to Rapid City, they needed a negative test.

“The League has done a tremendous job, and our organization as a whole, our goal was to keep everyone safe, and we’ve done a great job at it,” said Daniel Tetrault, the head coach of the Rapid City Rush.

Mackin said the goal is to “find a way to play.” He said some teams will be playing short-handed, but the rosters were expanded to allow more players to be available.

Tetrault expects the ECHL to be strong this year, since 10 Rush players are on loans from AHL and NHL clubs.

“The key players coming back are players like [Tyler] Coulter, [Brennan] Saulnier, and [Cedric] Montminy, and [Peter] Quenneville, our captain-- I mean, those are the key guys from last season,” said Tetrault. “We’ve got some veteran guys in the mix and a great rookie class. We’re building something here in Rapid City with the Rush. Last season was great, but we’ve got unfinished business.”

Our own Miranda O’Bryan is the in-game host for the Rush. She made her hosting debut on Friday.

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