Charlotte Rush Week in Review: Details drive the team to the playoffs

Photo Credit: Charlotte Rush

When last week the Rush came off a weekend where they did not get all of the results they wanted, this week proved to be a test especially for the premier group. They faced a Nashville team they could see again in the playoffs a few weeks from now so seeing the Rush battle through adversity against a strong expansion side was important. Nick Anderson and Devin Stephens each got a win in net, and showed the foresight of the Rush in picking up Stevens in December. There were some other standouts and a big weekend for the group was all highlighted by Trevor Kleckner, Rush Assistant Coach.

“1. What do you think of how both teams responded on the road to earn all the points they did?

For our Elite team, I think this was the first time this season we’ve seen them really open the flood gates on offense and score that many goals. There’s been many scenarios where we’ve been up 5 or 6 goals and let off the gas. To see them dominate for two full games and put up 9 and 10 goals was awesome to see as it shows our offensive capabilities. 

For our Premier team, they battled a lot of adversity heading into the weekend following the previous weekend’s loss as well as multiple players being sick and missing practice time throughout the week. Saturday we got off to a really good start which is something we’ve been lacking as of late and helped us cruise to a win. Sunday was a tougher test as we were in a similar situation to last weekend where we were tied and looking for our offense to take over and seal the game. They did just that, scoring three unanswered for a 7-4 win. 

2. How has Cam Perez developed on and off the ice this year?

To talk about Cam and his development as a Rush player, I don’t think we can only talk about his success this season. Cam came to us three seasons ago and bought into the process of developing on the Elite team for two seasons then progressing to the Premier team this season. He currently is 2nd amongst defenseman in points on our team and looks to continue his success on the ice and commit to play college hockey.  Off the ice, Cam has grown tremendously as a person, buying into the Rush culture of developing these young boys into men. He is a better person all around for being apart of the Charlotte Rush and will be very successful wherever life will take him. 

3.  What’s the process like for you guys looking at returners and guys moving to premier for next season and how much do these last few regular season games play a role in those choices?

As much as we want to focus on this season with playoffs right around the corner, we need to start preparing for next season as well. With how young our elite team was this season we will be looking to resign a majority of the group to return for next season. It’s known that we never sign players to specifically play on “Elite” or “Premier”. All we do is give these players an opportunity to compete with the group we will sign for next season and see where they fall come training camp. It is up to them to put the work in during the offseason to give themselves the best shot at making either team. With how much older our premier team is we will be looking at a huge rebuild and a very busy offseason with most of our guys going to play college hockey. It’s something that we’re used to and with how good our staff is at recruiting, especially Director of Player Development Trevor Jewell, it’s not something we are worried about at all. 

4. Talk about the bonding you guys had on this trip

Having the guys together on a bus for roughly 7 hours to and from Nashville was a great opportunity for the players to hangout and grow more as a team. Throughout the week you see everyone at the rink and go through on-ice and off-ice practices. But being on the road and in hotels for that amount of time really helps the players bond and get to know each other a little more. Players were live-streaming the AFC and NFC championship games on the ride home Sunday watching together and talking a little smack about their favorite teams. When these guys eat, sleep, and breathe hockey it’s good to come together over something different and have fun watching the games. Not to mention it makes the ride much easier when both teams come back with 4 points each on the weekend. 

5. How does playing the Spartans help prepare you for the first round of playoffs? Do they play similar to one of your potential opponents in the first round?

At the Premier level, it’s likely that our first round match up will either be with the Jr. Hurricanes or the Spartans so it was good to see what a first round matchup would look like after playing them. One of the big things I noticed about Nashville was that they never quit. Whether they were down 6-1 on Saturday or tied 4-4 on Sunday, they were always working hard. Come playoffs, whatever team we’re facing and whatever the score might be, teams will always be bringing their best effort and fighting until the clock hits zero. It’s important for our team to understand that now and I thought we did a great job of handling it this past weekend. 

6. How nice is it to have Nick and Devin together down the stretch and what are their college prospects?

We are extremely fortunate to have two more than capable starters in net at the Premier level. Starting the season with Nick, he was our workhorse playing multiple back to back weekends in net and we started to see that he would need someone else to take some off the workload off. When Devin came in, Nick was able to rest more and now I think we’re starting to see both goalies fully rested heading into playoffs soon. Having the ability to rotate them is huge as they push each other, motivate each other, but support each other as well. I believe we have the most lethal two goalie tandem in the league. 

7. Where are some of your other 02’s at commitment wise?

A lot of our 02’s are in really good spots now with being in communication with multiple colleges. After this upcoming weekend we have two straight bye weekends where most of our 02’s are scheduling recruiting visits to NCAA programs. At the beginning of the year we looked at the two straight bye weekends as a possible burden where we have so much time off. Now we see it as a blessing where these guys can see their possible future colleges in person and hopefully make the decision to commit before playoffs.”

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