The Rapid City Rush had a tough start to the season, starting with a losing streak that had the team 0-7 immediately. In late January, the team also lost one of its own in Blaine Jarvis, an alumnus of Bemidji State University who passed away in a snowmobile accident. The Rush would later honor Blaine in the final game of the season and give out a Heart and Soul award in remembrance of him. Riley Weselowski, an alumnus of Bemidji State and a former teammate of Jarvis’, received the award. After Blaine passed, the team played with a heavy heart that seemed to affect the locker room chemistry and their desire to win.
In the end, the team was unable to right the ship through the many ups-and-downs of the season. The Rush’s final record was 26-38-8, with the team missing the playoffs once again. Rapid City had made the playoffs in the 2015-16 season, but they were bumped in the first round and last made the ECHL Kelly Cup finals in 2010. With a rough end to the season, the organization decided they needed a change, so they fired head coach Mark DeSantis, just their second coach in franchise history.
After the Rush’s tough season, 5th-year goaltender Adam Morrison signed an AHL contract with the Hershey Bears to join them in their playoff run for the Calder Cup. In his career with the Rush, Morrison played 2,233 minutes over 38 games, ending with a 16-17-4 record. He had a 2.77 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Morrison was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2009 NHL Draft. Another highlight for the team was the invite for Michael Young, a 6 foot 3, 215-pound blueliner, to play in the ECHL All-Star Game in January. In just his third season with the Rush, he scored 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points in 31 games.
Even through all the adversity, I believe when the new coaching staff comes in next season, everyone will get a fresh start, and the Rush can put their best foot forward.