PHOTOS: Rapid City Rush’s Fan Fest brings family-focused hockey fun

Pumpkins, axes, and hockey - oh my! It was a busy day for the Rush as they unveiled their new jerseys and announced a fan-favorite returning player

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Fans and families turned out for the fourth annual Rapid City Rush Fan Fest on Saturday.

With everything from pumpkin painting to axe throwing, the Monument Ice Arena hosted laughs, smiles and cheers — something we’ll be having a lot more of as we get closer to the start of hockey season.

The 2022-23 season looks bright for the team, with 14 returning players and “lots of top-tier talent,” according to Head Coach Scott Burt. This will be Burt’s second season as the Rush’s head coach. He led the team to their most successful season since joining the ECHL, with a record 36-25-6-5 and 83 standings points. The Rush qualified for the Kelly Cup playoffs for the first time in seven years.

“We’re ready to get amped up and it’s an exciting time of the year. We finished the season off last year on a good high and we want to continue with that,” Coach Burt said.

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The fourth annual Rapid City Rush Fan Fest, held at the Monument Ice Arena on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Head Coach Scott Burt made the announcement that the Rapid City Rush will be retiring Riley Weselowski’s jersey on October 29 (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

Canadian-born Weselowski played for multiple seasons with the Rapid City Rush, most recently in 2017-18. He was the winner of the Presidents Cup as Central Hockey League Champions with Rapid City in 2010, and was named the 2012 Central Hockey League Defenseman of the Year, as well as Man of the Year for his community involvement. He topped multiple Rush leaderboards, including games played, scoring by a defenseman and penalty minutes. Weselowski played his last professional season in 2020-21 and now serves as the Assistant Coach for the Kansas City Mavericks.

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Rush mascot Nugget greets a mini visitor (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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A little girl paints an equally little pumpkin during Rush’s Fan Fest (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

It was great timing for Fan Fest, which ran alongside the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival.

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The Rush unveiled their new 2022-23 season jerseys during Fan Fest on September 24, 2022 (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

The 2022-23 season is extra special for the Rush, as it marks the teams 15th year! It’s also the first year for the new affiliation with the NHL’s Calgary Flames and AHL’s Calgary Wranglers. The Rush spent two seasons partnered with the Arizona Coyotes (2015-17) and the 2017-18 season with the Minnesota Wild. For the past three seasons, the team has been the ECHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes. Previously, the Calgary Flames had been the five-season NHL affiliate of the Kansas City Mavericks.

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NewsCenter1’s very own Christina Holiday tried her hand at axe throwing during Rapid City Rush’s Fan Fest (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

The mobile axe-throwing station was brought by Axe It Out, the sponsor of Rush’s Fan Fest.

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The Rush announced they’ve resigned winger Garrett Klotz for the 2022-23 season (courtesy: Rapid City Rush)

This will be the fifth season for the Canadian-born forward, who scored two goals and 12 assists across the 38 games he played during the 2021-22 season. Nicknamed “Sheriff,” Klotz also led the Rush with six fighting majors and 73 penalty minutes. The six-foot-five winger has played 14 professional seasons and 581 games across the AHL, ECHL, CHL and EIHL.

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There was no shortage of fun activities for the kids during Fan Fest on September 24 (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Vitalant hosted a blood drive alongside Fan Fest. Those who donated got two free tickets to a Rush game (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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It wasn’t all hockey and pumpkins! Booths from Feeding South Dakota, Mission 22, and the Salvation Army lined the Monument Ice Arena (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

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Rush staff and coaches came out for fan fest, like Chief Ticket Officer Jared Reid (left), athletic trainer Justin Ullom (center), and Assistant Coach Jeremy Gates (right). Front office staff and coaching staff always make it a point to chat with fans in Rush Nation (Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

“Our job as coaches is to get the players going that way, and then when the players hit the ice, their job is to to play hard, play together, make Rapid City proud, and that’s what our main goal is this year,” Coach Burt said.

2022-23 season tickets, mini packs and season tickets are now on sale. Opening night for the 2022-23 season will take place on October 28 against the Kansas City Mavericks. CLICK HERE for more information on the team, season and tickets.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News, Rush Hockey, Sports