Rush ‘Reload’ on Championship Experience with a Trio of Returning Stars
(Rapid City, SD) – At an exclusive event for Rapid City Rush season ticket holders and corporate partners, the Rush announced tonight the return of three key players for the 2011-12 season. Returning to the ice for Rapid City are goaltender Danny Battochio, veteran winger Scott Wray and defenseman Riley Weselowski. With the signings, the squad bolsters all areas of the ice and recoups championship experience. All three were members of the 2009-10 Presidents’ Cup Championship team.
“When Mark and I start putting together a winning hockey team we want our team identity to be players that have high character, leadership and bring a tremendous work ethic to the rink every day,” said Rush Head Coach Joe Ferras. “Today’s announcement of Scott, Danny and Riley, has done just that for our club as all three players exude these qualities.”
Perennial all-star goaltender Danny Battochio returns for his third season after being named a finalist for CHL's Most Outstanding Goaltender in each of his first two years.
A native of Lively, Ontario, Battochio kicked off the 2010-11 campaign with 36-save shutout of the defending IHL Champion Fort Wayne Komets. The goaltender set a Rush record by winning nine-straight games spanning from late January through mid-February and was also named CHL Goaltender of the Week on two separate occasions. By seasons’ send, he led the league in wins (30), games played (54) and minutes played (2989), ranked 3rd in saves (1359), and finished 5th in goals against average (2.61) and shutouts (3).
“Over the last two season’s Danny has more wins in the CHL than any other goalie,” continued Ferras. “His sensational play led the Rush to capturing their first Presidents’ Cup in 2010. Danny is a very focused and determined goalie that knows what it takes to win and is a work horse who gives us a chance to win every night. Plain and simple, Danny Battochio makes us a better team.”
Battochio had a tremendous rookie campaign in 2009-10 finishing the regular season ranked 2nd in wins (28), 3rd in GAA (2.57) and 4th in sv% (.918). From November 25th through January 19th, the netminder won 12 straight decisions and earned Goaltender of the Week and Goaltender of the Month honors for January.
For his regular season efforts, Battochio was named Rookie of the Year on March 18th, marking the first-ever major end of the year award for the Rush. Just two days earlier, Battochio was also named to the All-Rookie team.
In the 2010 Presidents’ Cup Championship run, the 5’10”, 180-pound goaltender was the backstop for all of Rapid City’s post-season victories and finished with an impressive 12-4 record. In the cup-clinching Game 6 of the finals, Battochio shut the door for the final 80 minutes of the contest to seal the come-from-behind victory.
The Rush also welcome back winger Scott Wray, who will become the first player to Captain the squad in back-to-back seasons. The 2011-12 campaign will serve as his 13th professional season and 3rd with Rapid City.
“Wrayzer has been a heart and soul player for the Rush the last two years and we are very excited to have him back in the fold for the upcoming season,” stated Ferras.”There is not a player that works harder and leads by example more than our Captain and I am looking for him to have a big season again this year. He sets the example both on and off the ice for our Rush players and is a true professional.”
Last year, Wray finished 4th on the team in goals (20) and points (48) while totaling 28 assists, good enough for second on the squad. The veteran reached numerous milestones throughout the season, including his 300th regular season goal (11/20 vs. COL), 800th career game (4/24 vs. FTW) and 700th career point (5/3 @ COL).
During the 2009-10 championship season, Wray posted remarkable numbers, finishing with a career-high 78 points and becoming the first Rush player to score 30 goals in a single campaign. The Ottawa, Ontario native competed in all 64 regular season games and led the Rush in goals (31), game-winning goals (8), and rating (+31). He also finished second in assists (47), points (78), powerplay points (25), and shots (249).
Weselowski will enter his fourth season as a pro and becomes the first defenseman signed by the Rush this offseason.
“Riles is a natural leader and he is a player that doesn’t take a night off and it took only a few games in a Rush jersey to see that we had a special player,” said Ferras. “As a coach you want players that keep it simple, compete in every situation, and leave it all on the ice, and with Riley we get this. He gave us a great offensive spark the last half of the season and in the playoffs and we will definitely be looking for Riley to build off of that.”
Weselowski is coming off of a strong season in which he set career highs in goals (5), assists (21), points (26) and penalty minutes (74). The stay-at-home defenseman led all Rush defenseman and finished third on the team with a +20 rating.
Despite playing in just 25 contests, the Pilot Mound, Manitoba native finished tied for 4th of the team with a +21 rating during the 2009-10 season. He scored his first goal for Rapid City on April 16th against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in game #4 of the Northern Conference Finals.