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Fox 100.3 Rapid City : Rush Article

Rich Hansen and Derek LeBlanc to attend Opening Weekend

The Rapid City Rush, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, announced today the next two members of the 2010 CHL Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Championship Rush team that will return for the opening weekend celebration of their title. Forwards Rich Hansen and Derek LeBlanc will be present for the championship festivities in Rapid City as the Rush open the 2019-20 ECHL season against the Utah Grizzlies on October 25th and 26th.


Hansen and LeBlanc join teammates Danny Battochio, Miguel Beaudry, Cody Bostock, Derek Campbell, Brendan Cook, Luke Erickson, Gio Flamminio, Dave Grimson, Brendon Hodge, Colt King, Corey Laurysen, Jamie VanderVeeken, and Blaine Jarvis’ family from the 2009-10 Rapid City Rush in attending the opening weekend festivities.


Follow the link to buy your tickets for the Opening Weekend series against the Grizzlies, and to see the 2010 CHL Champion Alumni Team here:


Hansen was a member of the inaugural Rapid City Rush in 2008, and remained with the team for the 2009-10 season.  The 5’11”, 180-pound forward appeared in all 64 regular season games for the Rush, earning 17 goals, 41 assists, and 58 points, along with a +8 rating. Hansen then suited up in all 17 playoff games and averaged just shy of a point-per-game pace with 4 goals, 12 assists, and 16 points. In Game 7 against Bossier-Shreveport in the 2010 Northern Conference Finals, he scored twice in a 3-point effort to eliminate the Mudbugs and secure the Rush’s spot in the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals. Hansen followed this by assisting on Gio Flamminio’s second-period goal in the decisive Game 6 of the CHL Finals, helping begin the three-goal comeback to eventually force the double overtime win. With the assist on Flamminio’s goal, Hansen finished the postseason on a three-game assist streak.


“I cannot believe 10 years has passed. In talking to my family recently about coming back for this reunion, we were all shocked it’s been that long,” Hansen remarked about the championship anniversary.  “Our first year was a struggle, but we worked really hard and had a great following in the community, so we knew that we could accomplish our goal of making the playoffs in year two. We kept a great core from the inaugural season, and added some key pieces that gave us a championship structure.


“Rapid City blew away any expectations I had prior to coming. It’s such a beautiful place, and besides the great teammates I had, I met many amazing people in my two seasons there,” Hansen continued. “I’d like to thank the fans for making those two years so special for me and my family.”


A native of North Port, New York, Hansen retired following the 2010 Finals, and finished a professional career of five seasons and 311 total games played in the UHL, CHL, and Sweden with 270 points (85g-185ast). A two-time CHL All-Star (2007, 2009) his final two seasons came as a member of the Rush, where he earned 35 goals, 87 assists, and 125 points. Both Hansen’s assist and point totals rank in the top-10 all-time in Rush history, with his assists ranking 6th-best, and his points ranking 8th-best. Prior to playing professionally, Hansen was a standout at Mercyhurst University in the NCAA, compiling 127 points in 147 games.


Like Hansen, LeBlanc also remained with the Rush after being a member of the inaugural 2008 Rush team. The 6’2”, 210-pound forward began the 2009-10 season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, earning an assist in 11 games before rejoining the Rush. Back in the Black Hills, he played in 41 games and earned 19 goals, 16 assists, and 35 points, then proceeded to play in all 17 playoff games and added 14 points (9g-5ast). LeBlanc especially shined in the 2010 CHL Finals, averaging nearly a point-per-game in the last series of the playoffs with five points (4g-1ast) in six games.


“It’s definitely hard to believe it’s been 10 years. So much has happened for me since then: I have a 7 year-old daughter, a 3 year-old son, a haircut, and a real job,” LeBlanc quipped about the upcoming championship anniversary. “For me, I knew we were going to win it all from day one that year. When Manitoba sent me down, they wanted me to go to Victoria, but I insisted I go back to Rapid City.  I knew we had the personnel and staff that could do something special in a very special place.


“After my time in Rapid City, I played in Europe, Idaho, and Arizona, but nothing compared to Rapid City. I went searching for that same group of guys, ownership, and fan support, but could never find it. Rapid City really is always where my heart will be in hockey,” LeBlanc concluded.  “With that being said, I want to thank all the fans, and express how much I can’t wait to see them. From doing our hockey 101’s in year one, to the pandemonium of winning the title, you have all created a place where players not only want to play, but a place where they want to WIN.”


Hailing from Virden, British Columbia, LeBlanc followed the 2010 Championship by playing three more seasons professionally, including one with the Rush, before retiring and transitioning to Canadian Senior Hockey. As a professional, LeBlanc played in 325 games across the ECHL, CHL, and AHL, registering career totals of 110 goals, 121 assists, and 231 points. With the Rush, LeBlanc appeared in 171 games across three seasons, and tallied 70 goals, 60 assists, and 130 points. He shares the 4th-most goals in team history with Les Reaney, ranks 7th all-time in scoring, and is the single-season record holder for most goals by a rookie with 26 set in the 2008-09 season. Prior to playing professionally, LeBlanc played four seasons in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Calgary Hitmen, and one season of Canadian college hockey with the University of Lethbridge in USports.
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