Charlotte Rush- A look back at a year of development , and two teams making it to Nationals, with much more to come: Read more

Photo Credit-Charlotte Rush

The hardest part of Junior Hockey is the end of the season. Every year, regardless of all the greatness your team achieves on and off the ice, it must end, players move on to college or other junior teams, and that group’s present splits in different directions for the future.

For this Charlotte Rush group, lead by a Premier team making the National Championship game, their legacy is one of success, and one of growth. While the Premier team did not win the ring that is the standard for success this ownership group rightly expects, they did everything else. Against the Northern Cyclones, they gave up goals only in transistion, and did everything they could to score. Sometimes a goalie can be the difference, and that was the case. With that said, the legacy of these groups, Premier and Elite is one of triumphing through adversity. This organization does a remarkable job of maintaining the standard,and they do an even better job of reminding the future stars of college hockey what the standard is. Head Coach Troy Schwab and staff did not have to do much reminding, as both teams made the Nationals Tournament. Schwab had a lot to say on the past and future for the Rush organization.

“ I am so proud of both the Elite and Premier teams for everything they have done for me and the Charlotte Rush program. There are a lot of benefits to playing for the Charlotte Rush. It can also be tough playing for the Charlotte Rush. The expectation and standards that we as an organization and also me as a coach put on players can be tough for players. We expect these standards and expectations to be met everyday. The players this year continuously met those expectations and standards and for that I thanked them. That is always why you see the continued success year after year with the Charlotte Rush and also why so many players advance in their hockey career or become better people after they leave the Charlotte Rush.

It’s tough to put into words how much these players mean to me as a coach and as a person. As a coach they did everything I asked of them this season. Everyday they showed up and came to work and wanted to develop and get better as players and people. We had a lot of fun along the way with the different personalities on these teams. I am a father of three boys and the way the ownership, staff, and players treat my family and include my boys is something they will never forget and something I will always be grateful for. 

The premier team was built to win a championship this season. The group of players Ryan, Trevor, Matt, Klecks, and Ray put together this year to make up this Premier team was something else. On paper it had to be the best in the league. They deserve a ton of credit for the success of this team. I felt throughout the course of the season we were the best team in the league. Throughout the championship game, I still felt we were the best team in the league. For 60 minutes I thought we controlled the game and generated more chances and opportunities than the cyclones. Sports is a funny thing, and you have to give a ton of credit to the Cyclones, as they held strong and waited for their opportunities and took advantage of the opportunities they had. Their goalie played outstanding. My heart breaks for our players. They put so much into this season and to be so close and walk away with nothing breaks my heart for these kids. No words can explain the feeling we had after the game and no words will make the loss feel any easier. This game will sit with all of us for a long time. 

Matt Lawhon, Michael Miller, and Cam Perez are three guys who have been here for all 3 of my years. They won an Elite National Championship with me and were hoping to win a Premier National Championship with them as well. This list of 02’s on this team are long. Gmerek, Ray, Banks, Sechrist, and Perez were a steady group of 02’s on the back end who were steady every single night. The fire power and depth up front never stopped for us with the likes of Evjen, Battaglia, Berry, Adler, Rossi, Kreczman, Bachman, Flynn, Miller, Lawhon, and Esquerre. All these 02’s are going to do great things at the college hockey level or wherever life takes them. After the way they played at Nationals the hope and expectation is to see many more commitments coming their way.

The Charlotte Rush never rebuild, they just reload. Preparations for next season and building a team to get back to the National Championship game is already under way. There are some very good 03’s that are eligible to return next year in Anderson, Stephens, Azevedo, Humphrey, Keese, Brooks and Galin that would put this team in a very good spot to start the off season. The only issue is I would expect all of them to be at the Tier 2 level next season. The expectation is some of the Elite players take that step over the summer and push for Premier jobs. The staff that the Rush have in place will do everything that is necessary to get the Rush back into position to win a Championship.

The people in Utica did a fantastic job in hosting the National Championship this year. They have an awesome venue for it. The premier format was interesting, exciting, and also a little irritating. It generated a lot of buzz trying to see who would be seeding where and what upsets would mean for teams and where they would fall. The way the schedule laid itself out and not knowing opponents till later at night, made for some late night preparation days.I thought the people of Utica and the USPHL did a good job putting on this event.”

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