Championship teams often refer to the special bond a group develops over the course of a championship season.
By Jim Smith
For the 2017 USPHL Elite Division champion Charlotte Rush, that bond began from the opening day during camp last August.
“When we got here on Day 1, you could tell there was an instant bond between the guys,” said Charlotte head coach Ryan Cruthers. “The guys that were part of the culture last year carried that over and some of the pieces we brought in with more experience, and higher-level players, brought that element as well. Everything started to come together and we jelled as a family and became a very close group.”
Among the returning players carrying over the culture, according to Cruthers, were Shane Selan – an assistant captain this season – and Trevor Kleckner.
Nicolas Yzaguirre, the team captain, came in this season and immediately bought into the culture.
“Nick just embodies everything you want in a captain and a leader,” said Cruthers. “He came in and raised the compete level every day.”
The Rush captured the title, winning a three-game series against Elite South rival Hampton Roads.
“Hampton Roads is a team that we face a lot in our division. They eliminated us in the first round last year, so there is a lot of history between us,” Cruthers added. “We competed the whole year for the first seed and we clinched it in the last game of the regular season against them. It’s been a battle all the way through. It was an exciting series and with a lot of bad blood between the two programs but with mutual respect for sure.”
The future bodes well for members of the Rush with a dozen current and expected college commitments among the roster.
For the 2017-18 season goaltender Jordan Severo and defenseman Richard Doherty are heading to Bryn Athyn College, Ross Jewell will skate the blue line for Becker College, Ryan Price is headed to Western New England University. Andrew Williamson will play at New York University.
Additionally, Joseph Palermo, Tyler Dill and Yzaguirre are one year out from playing at Utica College.
Among the interests of other players is the tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference that will begin playing next season.
“We are very big on promoting our players”, Cruthers said. “I enjoy moving kids on and making a difference in their lives. It’s a big time in these kids’ lives as they have to make some really serious decisions and commitments. I really enjoy being a part of that process. It is fun making an impact with these kids.”
Follow Jim Smith on Twitter @BlueLineNotes
Read past USPHL Elite articles in our archives: