By Patrick Ramsdale / USPHLPremier.com
Seed: Southeast Division #1
Seeding Round Schedule
All games at Utica University Nexus Center, Utica, N.Y.
Day 1: Thursday, March 23, vs. Minnesota Moose, 12 p.m. EST
Day 2: Friday, March 25, vs. TBA, 3 p.m. EST
Remaining schedule determined by results of seeding round
The 2021 USPHL Premier champions are looking for their second title in three years as the Charlotte Rush make their way to Utica for the National Championship.
The Rush beat their cross-state rivals, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, in a tough three-game series to punch their ticket to Nationals. Charlotte Head Coach Troy Schwab shared his thoughts on how his team stepped up in their battle with the Jr. Hurricanes.
“I thought as a group we battled hard and handled the adversity of going to a game three very well,” said Schwab. “Playing against your division opponents is very difficult in the postseason, especially when it’s your cross-state rival.”
Schwab also noted that his team showed what playoff hockey is all about, leaving it all on the ice in Game 3.
“In Game 3, I thought we played the best hockey all postseason,” Schwab said. “We were flying, moving pucks, and not over complicating anything. In our defensive zone we had guys selling out to block shots and taking hits to make plays. That’s playoff hockey and that’s what it takes to win it all.”
The Rush are no strangers to postseason success, having won it all in 2021 and being a consistent presence in the National Championship. This puts pressure on the organization, pressure that the Rush happily welcome.
“It puts a large amount of pressure on us to succeed in the postseason year in and year out, but pressure is a privilege,” said Schwab. “When you’re continually one of the best programs in the nation, there’s a huge target on your back.”
Schwab followed that up by saying, “You always want to be striving for the best and to be at the top, nothing less. Our goal is a national championship and anything less than that is a failure of a season.”
Two key pieces to Charlotte’s success this post season are Bryce Battaglia (‘02/Grenta, Neb.) and Rhett Evjen (’02/Swift Current, SK, CAN). Battaglia and Evjen combined for five points in their series with Carolina, with three of them coming in Game 3.
“I don’t think we’d be in this situation heading to nationals without the offensive production from Bryce Battaglia and Rhett Evjen,” said Schwab. “There are not many scenarios where either of these guys aren’t producing on the scoreboard. They say big time players show in big time moments and both of them did, especially in Game 3, to lead us to Nationals.”
Goaltender Nick Anderson (‘03/North Chili, N.Y.) allowed just one goal in each of his wins against Carolina, stopping 53-of-55 shots faced.
“Nick has always been a gamer who plays at his best when the stage is the biggest,” Schwab said.
Schwab stressed that the importance of his team spending time together off the ice before the trip to Utica.
“Nationals are going to be a grueling six days and these guys will be playing the toughest hockey of their careers,” said Schwab. “Taking the time to come together as a group away from the rink is huge as they get a chance to recharge and regroup while spending time with their teammates.”