Rush-Utah ECHL HCK

Utah Grizzlies goalie Mason McDonald (31) gloves a shot on goal that made it past the screen of Rapid City Rush forward Peter Quenneville (8) during Rapid City’s ECHL hockey game against the Utah Grizzlies on Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Ice Arena at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, S.D.

Sometimes a defining experience comes out of the blue; a flash of enlightenment, at an unexpected moment.

Last Friday night’s Rapid City Rush game against visiting Tulsa provided just such a decision-making moment for Rush coach Danny Tetrault in the selection of Peter Quenneville as the ideal choice to serve as the team’s 11th team captain in franchise history.

“We were down 3-1, on the bench with eight minutes to go,” Tetrault explained. "And Peter starts yelling ‘We are not losing this game, fellas. We are not going to lose this game.’ And then he took upon himself, with a four-point night, to go out and deliver. That’s what captains do and after than moment I was like there is my captain. There have been a several instances when he had shown the potential to be captain, but after that moment and the way he is playing and carrying himself, I knew he was the man.”

A five-year pro, the Edmonton Alberta native springs from a distinguished hockey family heritage. Brothers John and David are also professional hockey players and Joel Quenneville, coach of the NHL Florida Panthers is a relative as well. In addition, Quenneville has five years of professional experience under his belt including a two-year stint in Europe before signing with Rapid City this fall.

“It’s definitely an honor and something that I won’t take for granted. I will just trying to do what I’ve been doing and lead by example, be a good teammate and hopefully help the team continue the success we’ve had,” Quenneville said on Monday as the team prepared for a trip to Boise and a three-game series with the Idaho Steelheads. “Coming in and hot having been on this side of the planet for a while, I just tried to play hard, practice hard and do things the right way. We have a pretty young team with a lot of second year players, so I’ve just tried to provide insight where I could. It definitely means a lot to be recognized that way so I will just try to keep on doing what I’ve been doing.”

Doing a whole lot sums up Quenneville’s contribution to the Rush’s early season success as he currently leads the ECHL in assists (17) and is 2nd in scoring with 25 points.

“He was one of our last signings actually,” Tetrault said. “We had to address the offensive situation. I knew he was a sniper in junior and pro hockey and is a pure goal scorer, and so signing him was a big signing for us. And he loves the city, loves the organization and is comfortable here in Rapid City. And as for captain, it’s well deserved. He has shown his true leadership skills, leads by example, and has a great hockey mind. I can see him in the future being a coach.”

Rush assistant coach Jeremy Gates advocated for the Quenneville selection based upon some firsthand experience.

“I actually played with Peter his rookie year in Cincinnati,” Gates said. “You could see his talent level, and his ability to shoot the puck really well. And he came in here and has done everything we asked him and more. He’s done a good job handling the locker room and when he talks to us in the office, he is very professional and knows what is going on. His play on the ice speaks for itself, and he is also a good person as far as doing all the right things.”

Teammate Tyler Coulter sees Quenneville’s new role as a definite plus. And a popular choice in the locker room as well.

“We are all really excited that Pete’s the captain,” Coulter said. “He’s a heck of a leader on this hockey club. He just leads by example every night. His numbers so far this season speak for themselves, and he will continue to lead on and off the ice like he always does.”

Coulter, who had three goals in last weekend’s sweep of Tulsa—two of which came via Quenneville assists—has seen the new Rush captain in a leadership role previously and liked what he saw.

“I played with him as a captain before when we were juniors, and he was amazing and so I expect nothing else here,” said Coulter of the duo’s shared stint with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League. “Pete maybe doesn’t speak as often as other guys maybe, but it means more when he speaks. He speaks at the right times and he says the right things which makes for a great leader.”

As for changes in who he is and what he does in his new, be true to yourself will be his guideline said Quenneville.

“I think the most important thing is to not to change who you are. And try to be the same guy every day no matter what. Even if you are struggling or whatever, just try to be even-keeled. I like to think that’s something that comes natural to me. I try to weather the highs and the lows and stay the same and be a voice of reason and be somebody the guys can talk to.”

More of the same will be an excellent prescription for Rapid City (12-5-2-0) this weekend as well as the Rush head into a big three-game series with the Idaho Steelheads (10-5-2-2) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The contests (7:05 each night) can be heard on the radio home of Rush hockey, KKLS (920 AM, 104.7 FM).

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