Former Rapid City Rush goalie Danny Battochio didn't start to play hockey to one day see his name and number in the rafters of an arena, retired so no one would wear it again.
That is exactly what will happen.
Battochio's number 30 jersey will ascend to the rafters of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Friday night in the beginning of the final home series of the year against the Quad City Mallards. No Rush player will be able to wear it ever again.
"I didn’t really believe it at first. I was kind of in shock and awe, it was a pretty cool moment. It’s definitely an honor to have a jersey up there in the rafters," Battochio said. "You play your career and you don’t necessarily think of that happening at the time. You try to win games, you try to be successful, obviously make it to the playoffs and the championship and that’s the goal, but you never think you're number is going to end up in the rafters."
Battochio was surprised by Rush director of media relations and play-by-play announcer Mark Binetti when he was asked to do an interview that would be shown on the Rush social media websites.
Instead, the video was shown during the game on Jan. 19 against the Utah Grizzlies. Binetti asked Battochio if he was excited about March 30, and Battochio wasn't sure why he should be.
That's when Binetti broke the news to him, his number was getting retired that night.
"It kind of went by pretty quick. I think it was a couple of months ago when it was announced, and then I thought, ‘oh I have some time,’ and sure enough, you blink and its here in a couple of days. It’s a pretty crazy feeling," he said. "It’s a special moment and to be able to share it with friends and family should be a lot of fun."
Battochio played eight seasons of professional hockey, all but one with Rapid City. He was a huge part of the Rush taking home the Central Hockey League's Ray Miron President's Cup in 2010. He was named CHL Rookie of the Year after posting a record of 28-5-6, with a 2.60 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
That season he also went 12-4-0 during the postseason with a 2.73 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
As for the rest of his career, at the time of his retirement, he held 27 team goaltending records. He went 131-81-21 for his career with a 2.61 GAA, .912 save percentage and 12 shutouts.
He will be the second player in Rush history to have his jersey retired. Former teammate Scott Wray's No. 17 was the first.
Battochio remembers the ceremony that he will now go through, the speeches, the players trying to stay focused even though the ceremony went 30 minutes. Now he will be the center of attention.
"A guy like Scott Wray, when I came into the league as a rookie, you see the kind of respect he commands and what kind of leader and teammate he is. When you see a guy like that you think his jersey is going up, that makes since," he said. "But you never think at the end of the career of you impacting people that much, or the team to have the jersey retired. To be up there with Scott, with the impact he’s had to hockey in Rapid City, it’s definitely an honor."
Although Wray undoubtedly did a lot for hockey in Rapid City, Battochio has also been a huge part of the game's growth in the city. Not only through seven years of playing, but Battochio has stuck around the area since retiring from the Rush as a player in 2016.
He is now a goaltender coach for Rapid City and hops on the radio broadcasts with Binett. He has settled down in a place that was so good to his professional career.
"It’s an awesome place. The Hills are beautiful, people are phenomenal, made a lot of friends when I first came in, and I kind of felt a sense of comfort here," he said. "I met my, now wife here, everything fell into place. I was playing hockey, and year-after-year it was a place I wanted to be more. It’s become more than a place to play hockey, it’s a place to raise a family, and where I have so many friends and family.
"It’s a great place to live. I enjoy living here."
The Rush take on the Mallards tonight, with the normally scheduled 7:05 p.m. game featuring a presentation in honor of Battochio before the puck officially drops.