The off-season is just about in the books for 2018 as Training Camp is getting ready to kick off.
In case you missed all the player signings over the summer here’s a quick recap to get you caught up (at the time of this article).
New PA Announcer Needed
The month of May actually saw the departure of longtime PA Announcer Jay Davis. Jay left the organization for warmer weather as the new Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and Operations for the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers in Pensacola, Florida. We wish him all the best on this next chapter of his career. He will definitely be missed.
Garrett Klotz (Left Wing)
The first player signed for the 2018-19 season is Garrett Klotz, who finished the year with the Rush after starting the season off with the Quad City Mallards, Evansville IceMen, and Kansas City Mavericks. Klotz earned 2 assists and 56 PIM during his time in the Black Hills last season. This is his 11th season as a professional where he has amassed playing time over numerous leagues in 469 games.
Alec Baer (Forward)
Alec Baer joined the Rush at the end of last season and racked up 6 points in 8 games with the club. He was extended a qualifying offer from the organization in July (7 remaining).
Aaron Boyd (Forward)
Aaron Boyd also joined the Rush at the end of last season and put up 4 points in 5 games with the Rush. He, too, was extended a qualifying offer from the organization in July (6 remaining).
Peter Sivak (Forward)
Peter Sivak is a huge announcement to have back on the Rush roster as he put up impressive numbers with the team through 58 games: 26 goals and 34 assists along with a +4 rating. An added bonus is that he was extended a qualifying offer from the organization in July (5 remaining).
Pierre-Luc Mercier (Forward)
Pierre-Luc Mercier was brought on to complete a future considerations trade that the Rush had with the Adirondack Thunder. Mercier put up 42 points with the Thunder during the regular season and added an another 4 assists during the Kelly Cup playoffs. Likewise he was extended a qualifying offer from the organization in July (4 remaining).
Shaquille Merasty (Forward)
Shaquille Merasty came to the Rush last season by way of a trade with the Wichita Thunder. Merasty put up 5 points with the Thunder through 20 games before adding an additional 7 points along with a +5 rating through 8 games in Rapid City.
“Rapid City is a great city, and I was very appreciative of the opportunities I got with Coach Tetsy and the organization, so it was a no-brainer to come back to the Rush for next season.”
Hopefully the injury that Merasty sustained at the end of last season has recovered and he can hit the ice with full force this fall.
Josh Elmes (Defenseman)
Josh Elmes completed his rookie season with the Rush last year. Through 59 games in the Black Hills Elmes amassed 13 assists and finished with an even-rating. His leadership and character did not go unnoticed as he was named an assistant captain in the latter portion of the season as well as being named the recipient of the 2018 Blaine Jarvis “Heart and Soul” Award.
“I enjoyed playing for the Rush a lot last season. Things started off slow for me, but Coach Tetsy and Coach Nello just told me to stay patient, and I’m very appreciative of the faith they showed in me last year.”
He is a welcomed addition to have back on the blue line.
Brayden Sherbinin (Defenseman)
Brayden Sherbinin was a great addition to the blue line last season for Rapid City, putting up 4 points in 17 games with the Boys from the Black Hills. Having him back on defense with the Rush should give Rapid City added pressure when the opposition cuts deep into their own zone.
Rush head coach Daniel Tetrault has nothing but praise for this signing heading into the fall season.
“Bringing him on at the end of the season was a great decision for our team, and I’m very excited to have Brayden back in a Rush uniform.”
We look forward to seeing what he can do with a full season of hockey under his belt in the Black Hills.
Chris Leibinger (Defenseman)
Chris Leibinger was another great signing on the blue line for the Rush this offseason. Being the first “newbie” signed to the Black Hills, Leibinger spent the majority of his rookie season with the Utah Grizzlies where he put up 22 points in 40 games. He finished the season as the third best scorer amongst the D-men on Utah’s roster.
He should be another welcome addition to the blue line and is excited to be joining the team.
“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.”
On the flip side coach Tetrault is happy to have him on Rapid City’s side of the puck this season.
“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.”
Let’s hope he continues to build on his success during his sophomore season.
Adam Marsh (Forward)
Adam Marsh comes back to Rapid City after playing in the final five games of the regular season with the Rush last year. Over those five games he registered his first point with an assist against the Mallards during the final home game.
Willem Nong-Lambert (Forward)
Willem Nong-Lambert comes back to the Rush for his sophomore year after putting up 4 points over the final 5 games with Rapid City. He ended the season putting up three assists against the Tulsa Oilers in the final game of the season.
His physical prowess at 6’3″ and 195lbs will give the Rush offense some grit in the offensive zone, being better able to compete for loose pucks and drive that 3-inch piece of rubber at the net with ferocity.
Quintin Lisoway (Forward)
Quintin Lisoway will be coming to the Rush to kick off his professional career. Over the last two seasons at the University of Manitoba he accumulated 32 points (19 goals and 13 assists) in 53 games. This 5’10” 180lbs speedster may not bring a big level of physicality but we’re looking forward to see what level of speed he brings. The Rush could definitely use offensive skaters who can close on loose pucks and find themselves open for breakaway opportunities.
Blake Heinrich (Defenseman)
Another rookie kicking off their professional career with the Rush is Blake Heinrich who also comes to Rapid City from the University of Manitoba, the same as Lisoway. He picked up 11 points in 39 games over two seasons and looks forward to see what his 5’11”, 205lbs stature can do on the blue line.
“I play hard and like taking the body, but I can also chip in offensively. “
Adam Carlson (Goalie)
Adam Carlson saw ice time with numerous teams last season before finding his way to the Black Hills. Starting with the AHL’s Hershey Bears then moving to the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, the Indy Fuel, the Kansas City Mavericks, then finally finishing up the season with the Bears he amassed a combined record of 8-5-4, combined save percentage of 0.906 and a combined 2.57 GAA. He also registered a shutout over his playing stint last season.
“Opportunity is what drove me to the Rush. I’ve always been a guy that believes that you need to go to where you’re most wanted, and that’s Rapid City.”
And without a doubt the Rush could use some veteran level skill between the pipes. On paper Carlson appears to fill that need.
Michael Bitzer (Goalie)
Michael Bitzer comes to the Rush after a stint with the Idaho Steelheads last season. Through three games he suited up for he posted a 2-1-0 record with a 2.30 GAA and a .887 SV%. With a young talent such as this he could grow into a solid compliment to a 1-2 netminder combo, hearkening back to the days of Battochio and Boron.
Alec Baer (Forward)
Alec Baer will return to Rapid City for his first full season of professional hockey. Last season he saw ice time in the final eight games of the regular season for the Rush. Through those games he tallied 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists) and is hoping to build on that success this season.
Rush head coach Daniel Tetrault had this to say about this signing.
“Alec played very well with us when we brought him on at the end of the season. Registering 6 points in 8 games was just a glimpse of what he can bring to the professional game.”
Time will tell but on paper it looks as though he could provide a great offensive spark for this team.
Mason McCarty (Forward)
Mason McCarty will start his professional career in the Black Hills after finishing up a productive major-junior career with the WHL. Over the last 68 games with the Red Deer Rebels he amassed 74 points (38 goals, 36 assists) in 68 games in the regular season. Through five WHL playoff games he tallied another goal and three assists.
No matter who you talked to everyone has good things to say about this kid.
“In speaking with WHL scouts and other contacts, one thing was made very clear about Mason: he is one heck of a hockey player,” Rush Head Coach Daniel Tetrault explained regarding Mason McCarty.
Andrew Radjenovic (Forward)
Andrew Radjenovic returns for his second professional season with the Rush. He spent his rookie season with three different teams. In 41 games between the Cincinnati Cyclones and Adirondack Thunder he amassed 7 goals and 14 assists. His stats exploded after being traded to the Rush late last season. Playing in the final 13 games with Rapid City he posted 9 goals and 7 assists and earned a +1 rating.
If that trend bleeds over into the 2018-19 season then he could prove to be a valuable asset to numerous scoring lines.
Mitch Nardi (Forward)
Mitch Nardi returns to the Black Hills after seeing ice time in the final five games of the regular season last year. He was able to secure his first professional point with an assist against the Mallards on April 4th.
A good stature at 6’0″ and 190lbs he should provide some physicality along the offensive boards and give the Rush that extra edge at peppering the net with shot attempts.
Pierre-Luc Mercier (Forward)
Pierre-Luc Mercier was acquired in a trade that sent Kenton Miller to the Adirondack Thunder. Mercier spent his rookie season with the Thunder putting up 42 points (17 goals and 25 assists) in 68 games during the regular season. During the 14 playoff games he was able to add an additional four assists to his season total.
Rush head coach Daniel Tetrault is excited to have this young forward join the Rush organization.
“I’m very excited that Pierre-Luc is joining us after the trade last season. He is a young, talented forward that will make us that much better up front.”
We’re excited as well to see what he can do in a Rush sweater this season.
Steven Tarasuk (Defenseman)
Steven Tarasuk hopped the pond when he signed to play with the Rush after spending time with Germany’s Saale Bulls Halle last season. This gritty 5’10”, 180lbs d-man put up 32 points (7 goals and 25 assists) over 43 games with another goal and two assists in their four playoff games. He previously spent time in the ECHL with the Alaska Aces where he put up 38 points (7 goals and 31 assists) in 66 games and secured a +5 rating.
Tarasuk is looking to make big things happen in the Black Hills, as well.
“The biggest factor for me in signing with Rapid City is my relationship with Coach Tetrault. He and I shared a championship in Allen along with Garrett Klotz, and we’re hoping to do the same here in Rapid City and bring a championship to one of the most passionate fan bases in the game.”
Cedric Montminity (Forward)
Cedric Montminity is another acquisition from overseas. Montminity spent time in Germany skating with the EHC Timmendorfer Strand 06 where he was a beast putting up 59 points (23 goals and 36 assists) in 43 games. That’s 1.37 points-per-game for you mathematicians out there. Couple that with his 5’11”, 190lbs stature and he could be a valued asset on various scoring lines for the Rush.
Head coach Daniel Tetrault is looking forward to seeing what kind of energy he brings to training camp.
“I’ve heard and seen nothing but great things about Cedric from friends and scouts on the eastern side of the continent that are familiar with his play. I’m interested to see what he’ll bring to the table in training camp.”
He’s not alone as I’m sure the rest of Rush Nation would love to see a skater put up numbers like that while skating for the Boys from the Black Hills.
Robert Lepine (Forward)
Robert Lepine split his time last season with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers and EIHL’s Braehead Clan in Scotland. While skating for the Ice Flyers he amassed 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists) in 26 games and added another 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) when he jumped the pond to skate for the Braehead Clan.
Stats like that could come in handy when needing players that can drive the puck on net and pepper opposing goalies with numerous attempts. This is something the Rush have definitely be lacking the last few seasons.
Tyler Parks (Goalie)
Tyler Parks comes to the Rush after spending last season with the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen. A brickwall coming in at 6’6″ and 216lbs he boasted a record of 12-3-2 through 17 games in the regular season with a 2.58 GAA and a .915 SV% and a shutout. In the SPHL playoffs he had ice time in 7 games and posted a 5-2 record, including another shutout, with a 2.16 GAA and a .926 SV%.
“I want depth at the goaltending position coming into our training camp next week. Goaltending has been a weak point of the Rush in the last few seasons, so I want to make sure there is good competition for goaltending before the season starts.” — Head Coach Tetrault
Having a presence like his between the pipes could be a great value to the Rush as gigantic goalies have caused fits for Rapid City in the past it would be nice to have one of their own between the pipes.
Matt Zenzola (Goalie)
Matt Zenzola is another “large presence” goalie the Rush have brought in from the SPHL. Zenzola has spent the past five seasons in the SPHL, most recently with the Fayetteville Marksmen and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. Last season he posted a 2-2-0 record for five games with the Marksmen and a 9-7-0 record over 22 games with the Yard Dawgs. Over his career in the SPHL he has amassed a record of 57-33-12 in 121 games with a 2.94 GAA and .901 SV%.
And perhaps the lack of affiliation for the Rush this year are paying off already.
“I chose Rapid City because it seemed like a great opportunity for me to get to the next level, especially considering that the team isn’t affiliated. I’ve been called up before to the ECHL and dealt with contracted players bumping me out, so this is a great shot for me to show what I’m made of.”
We’ll see what kind of numbers he can put up in training camp this year.
Riley Weselowski (Defenseman)
The longest tenured player in Rush history, Riley Weselowski, will on the ice again with the Boys from the Black Hills this season. Wezzy, as he is affectionately known, had ice time in 67 games last season with Rapid City and put up 22 points (4 goals and 18 assists). The 2017-18 campaign was also a banner year for him as he suited up for his 400th game in a Rush jersey (first player in Rush history to reach that milestone) as well as recording his 200th career point.
“It is great to be back on board with the Rush. No one takes more pride when putting on that jersey than I do.” – Riley Weselowski
Another exciting bonus with getting Riley back is naming him the Player-Assistant for the upcoming season.
“This year, as both my Player-Assistant and captain, I expect Riley to lead and pick up from where he left off last season.” – Head coach Daniel Tetrault
The one key intangible that can’t be calculated is the leadership ability that Riley brings to the team. He has the ability to help rally and inspire younger players that could prove invaluable should the Rush find themselves in the playoff hunt near the end of the season. We look forward to see what level of intensity he brings to the ice during his ninth season in Rapid City.
Coming through the office we’ve come across numerous autographed photos that we forgot to include in giveaways in season’s past. So be on the lookout this week for another article detailing which photos are available and how the contest will work.
It’s finally October, everyone. Rush Hockey is practically back!
Article quotes taken from the Rapid City Rush.
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It’s the Sights of the Game, presented by Black Hills Regional Eye Institute.