Charlotte Rush: Mentors matter, for professional hockey alums and for the Rush Family

Photo Credit: Matt Dibble

Dibble describes the audience, “Fun picture for the article of me Justin and Jay. Additional is jays two sons, ryan and Jordy. And Peter who was another player for Jay.”

Rush Scouting Director Matt Dibble is humble. He knows that many people have helped him get to where he is. Dibble is a General Manager for the Northeast Generals and Scouting Director for the Rush.

Dibble is the architect behind the dominance of the Rush and the reason why the Generals went from a team that did not make the playoffs often to one expecting to make them yearly.

Dibble took a lot of time to talk about the success of Rush Alum Justin Allen in signing his first pro deal with the Norfolk Admirals, and some mentors both he and Allen had along the way. Matt Dibble has been praised by his mentors for his hockey acumen and ability to build programs and teams. Here’s Dibble on some history of his and Allen’s mentors.

“I am beyond proud of Justin. He was a legend here in Charlotte, was awesome in Utica, and will be great at the next level. I’m going to instead give you some information about how Justin and I shared two of the same mentors, Jay Kirk and Ryan Cruthers. Justin and I have had similar paths (Justin as a player and me as a scout/coach). I have known Justin since I was 14 years old. I have played on teams with him, I have coached him, I have worked with him, and I am now a fan of him.

Our first mentor was Jay Kirk. Jay coached both myself and Justin for a now extinct program, the Rochester Redwings. Growing up, we would often skate together in Rochester for Jay. Justin was always a few years younger, but he was always good enough to play up multiple years.

My start in summer hockey and scouting started when Jay took myself and Justin to a OneHockey tournament in Philadelphia where we would demo GoalerOne slide boards. While we were there, I got a chance to jump on a bench for the summer tournament and found instant passion from there. Jay was my mentor in the early days of Roc City, and helped me start it. We would talk endlessly about how to build it, what to do, and what would make it different then everything else. Without Jay, there would be no Roc City Elite.

Jay was an integral part of Justin’s development growing up, always instilling good habits, fundamentals, and creativity. Jay was one of those coaches that start practice with the same 3 drills, and I think Justin’s fluid style of play, great edges, and confidence with the puck are a direct result of those habits being instilled at a young age.

Funny how things work out, as we both got older…we both met Ryan Cruthers. Ryan had hired me as the Director of Scouting with the Rush, and one of the first guys I brought in was Justin. At the time, Justin was looking for a home…and it wasn’t easy to get him to Charlotte, but once we did it was great.

Ryan and I met through the New Jersey Titans. Ryan drove through the night to meet me in Boston where we had a team that had to be almost all Rush kids. He showed up for a 10:00 AM game with a cup of coffee and no sleep in the past 48 hours. We met about 2 minutes before the game, and to be honest haven’t looked back. Ryan helped me take Roc City from a small local program to what I truly believe is one of the most recognizable names in summer hockey. He taught me how to win and opened countless doors to the next level of hockey, including my opportunities to grow into full time roles with the Titans and Generals. Without Ryan; we would still have 0 championships.

Ryan took Justin under his wing in Charlotte. As much as Justin is an awesome kid, he was immature when he got to Charlotte. Ryan helped Justin grow up and learn what hockey and life would be like after this. He continues to develop Justin’s offensive game and helped him eventually land in Utica. At the time, it felt like a real step down for Justin. I do think ryan and Charlotte helped mold Justin into the man and player he is today.

I think everyone in hockey has these stories. Without mentors, you are lost. Justin and I both had 2 of the best in Ryan Cruthers and Jay Kirk.

I congratulate Justin on his next step in hockey and look forward to taking in his next game!”

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