Rapid City Rush ready to heat up the ice under new NHL affiliate

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City Rush have a new NHL parent club – and they are on fire.

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The Rapid City Rush play against the Wichita Thunder with thousands of local middle schoolers in attendance (February 10, 2022)

After their first playoff run in six years during the 2021-2022 season, the team will now be the ECHL affiliate for the Calgary Flames. The Calgary Flames are the third affiliate for the Rapid City Rush since coming to town in 2008. Past teams include the Arizona Coyotes and the Minnesota Wild.

The Flames were originally founded in Atlanta in 1972, but moved to Canada in 1980. In the past four seasons, the team has seen playoff time three times, two of them including a division title. They have won the Stanley Cup once since their founding, claiming the trophy in 1989.

The change comes as other NHL teams are looking to make moves that enable players shorter travel distances between call-ups. The Flames, for example, just moved their AHL team as well. The Stockton Heat as they were known, finished up a solid playoff run during the 2021-2022 season in Northern California before the name change and move. They are now called the Alberta Wranglers, and are based out of the Scotiabank Saddledome in the province of the same name.

With the decision to make their ECHL home in Rapid City, Assistant General Manager Brad Pascall is excited to have players closer to the action.

“We looked at having a fresh start. We are not in California, now we are in Alberta. And we thought that having a fresh start in our ECHL affiliate was something that just seemed to fall in line,” Pascall said. “And then having the conversations that we did with Rapid City and the excitement around that– at that time we felt it was a no-brainer.”

Of course, the goal of a championship is the top priority for the Rush. One that which both Rapid City and Calgary officials say they’re committed. Coach Scott Burt says he and Calgary officials are building a team “to put a good product on the ice.” Co-owner Jeff Dickerson was also excited about the new partnership heading into the new season.

“The chemistry was  there, we were aligned on player development– it is very important to us to put that product on the ice here,” Dickerson explained. “And again, you do not want it to be a hollow promise during an off-season. You want it to be a real commitment and I feel like that is what we got.”

The Rush open their regular season on October 28 at The Monument against the Kansas City Mavericks.

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