Rush Make Splash with Trio of Signings

Rush Boost Offense with Signing of Surma, Masters & Hau to 2012-13 Roster

(Rapid City, SD) – On Thursday, the Rapid City Rush announced the signing of three new forwards for the 2012-13 campaign.  The Rush have acquired center Damian Surma from the Dayton Gems along with forwards Rusty Masters and A.J. Hau from the Laredo Bucks.

Off-Season Transactions

“Announcing three players today that all possess great character, work ethic and grit, is great for our hockey club,” said Rush Head Coach Joe Ferras.  “At the same time, these are three players that bring different skill sets and qualities that will be valuable pieces of the puzzle.”

Surma [SUR-mah], 31, becomes the second player in Rush history to boast NHL experience, suiting up in two games for the Carolina Hurricanes where he tallied a goal and an assist.  Surma was drafted 174th overall by the Hurricanes in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

“We’re ecstatic to get a player of Damian’s caliber,” stated Ferras.  “He’s a top five player in our league year after year, and one that will be counted on heavily in all situations.  He can just as equally anchor the point on the power play as well as work the half wall.  Also, he will be a main cog on our penalty kill, and is statistically one of the best faceoff men throughout the entire league.  The leadership that Damian will bring to our locker room will be invaluable.  He already has the utmost respect from all of the players throughout the league with the way he carries himself and the way that he competes on a nightly basis.  He is a player that makes other players around him better and leads by example.”

Surma, a 10-year veteran, is coming off of one his most productive seasons yet, leading the Gems and finishing 6th overall with 31 goals.  Along with his NHL experience, the Lincoln Park, Michigan native has suited up in 117 games at the AHL level where he totaled 30 points on 14 goals and 16 assists.  The 5-9 200-pound center has done exceptionally well in the CHL where he has 125 points (59G, 66A) in 140 games played.  In all, Surma has suited up in 595 professional games, amassing 201 goals and 230 assists for 431 total points along with 507 penalty minutes.

“I was really excited to hear that Rapid City was interested in bringing me in for next year,” said Surma.  “It's not every day you get a chance to play in an NHL atmosphere at this level and not to mention the fan support in Rapid City is better than anywhere I have seen in a while if not the best ever.  I am hoping to build on last year and come to Rapid City and help the team win a championship.”

Masters joins the Rush after spending his rookie campaign of 2011-12 with the Laredo Bucks and tying for the team lead with 16 goals.  The Grafton, Ontario native finished second on the team with 46 points, ending up just one point behind Neil Trimm.  The effort was enough to be voted MVP by his fellow teammates.

“Being a second-year pro and coming off of tremendous season where he was voted MVP by his teammates, we know the type of player and character we’re getting in Rusty,” said Ferras.  “He’s a strong skater and a player that is responsible in both ends of the ice and also has a tremendous compete level.  To say that we could very easily expect him to score 20-25 goals is not out of the question.”

Masters, 26, split his 2010-11 campaign between the Mississippi Surge of the SPHL and the Mississippi RiverKings of the CHL.  While with the Surge, Masters was a member of the SPHL Championship squad, totaling 11 points (4G, 7A) in just eight playoff games.  Before turning pro, the 6-foot 185-pound forward played NCAA Division III hockey at Elmira College where he was called up for 2 games to the Elmira Jackals (ECHL).

“It was a great experience playing in Rapid City as a visiting team last year, as the environment in the arena there was one of the best in the league,” stated Masters.  “It was easy to see the tremendous fan support around the town as well.  I'm really looking forward to getting to Rapid and joining the Rush for the upcoming season.”

Hau [HOW], a native of Fort Collins, Colorado, led the Bucks in rating last season, serving as the lone player to finish ‘positive’ at plus-1.  The 26-year old finished with 28 points (12G, 16A) and 69 penalty minutes in 53 games last season.

“AJ is high-energy player that plays a lot bigger than his size,” continued Ferras.  “AJ will be the type of player that gives other teams defense fits with his work ethic and his speed on the fore-check.  He takes a lot of pride in his defensive game as evident by being the only player with a plus rating in Laredo last season.  After having a break out year, AJ has gained confidence and we’re looking for him to build off that and give us that element that we were lacking last year.”

Hau, who enters his third professional season, spent the 2010-11with the Colorado Eagles where he appeared in 40 regular season games, scoring 2 goals and adding 7 assists.  He also appeared in 11 playoff games, where he scored one goal.  Prior to turning pro, Hau played three seasons of NCAA hockey for Colorado State University of the ACHA.  Hau posted impressive numbers in his college career, amassing 162 points (72G, 90A) and 202 penalty minutes in 97 games played.

“I view Rapid as an organization that competes for a championship every year and that's what I want to be a part of,” said Hau.  “Rapid is a classy, honest organization that I'm looking forward to play for.  I'm a very competitive player that will battle every night to win, and I’m looking to bring speed and physical play every game.  I'm especially excited about playing in front of the Rush fans!”

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