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GAME PREVIEW: RUSH vs CUTTHROATS 2/28/2014

Friday, February 28th
GAME PREVIEW: RUSH vs CUTTHROATS 2/28/2014

Where We Left Off: Extra-Curricular Sweep – Last weekend, the Rush played the Arizona Sundogs in their final series of the season in a two-game set. The series has constantly changed over the season, with dominance shifting constantly, most recently to the Sundogs after they swept the Rush in three games in the desert. On “Team USA” Night, as the Rush came out in their “Miracle on Ice” jerseys, they kept the memories of their last meeting fresh in their heads. Goals came at a premium in this highly defensive bout, but eventually something would have to give. It took 42 minutes of playing time, but Riley Emmerson scored first for the Sundogs 2:02 into the final period to give his team a 1-0 lead. Moments later, however, the Rush would knot the game up with a boost from their special teams that couldn’t have been timed any more perfectly. On a play started by Rush captain Scott Wray, Sean Erickson would launch a cruise missile from neither team’s goaltender would break again, and after all was said and done, 65 minutes of play would not be enough to determine a victor. Rush goaltender Tim Boron stopped all three shooters in the ensuing shootout round and was backed up by completed shots from Jared Brown, Jesse Schultz, and Konrad Reeder, helping the Rush go the distance to a hard-fought 2-1 win. Both teams geared up for their final matchup of the season on Saturday night, with much of the same taking place from their previous bout. Once again, the Sundogs would strike first, ut this time within the first 20 minutes of play. With 32 seconds left in the first period, Kevin Baker would swoop in on a hustle play, picking up a rebound and sending it past Tim Boron to give his team a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room session. Once again the Rush were down, but would tie the game up in the second frame. Konrad Reeder sent home his 32nd goal of the year, shooting from a sharp angle on the far wall that made it past Engelage to even the game up at 1-1 midway through the second. Each goaltender would shut the door from here on out, and we would once again play free hockey. With 1:18 left in overtime, Riley Weselowski would start a play from his own zone, passing to a streaking Konrad Reeder in neutral ice. Reeder would power through not one, but two checks and attempt a shot on goal, only to be stopped by Engelage. Swooping in from the bench off of a change was Matt Larke, who moments later would send in the rebound from Reeder’s shot for the game-winner, his first goal since December, helping the Rush sweep the Sundogs in the weekend series with their second straight 2-1 win in post regulation play.

It’s About Time – With his game-winning strike in overtime on Saturday night, Rush forward Matt Larke scored for the first time since December 28th against the Missouri Mavericks, ending his 23-game goal scoring drought. The goal could not have been timed any more perfectly, as it helped the Rush not only sweep the Sundogs in the set, but also gave the Rush just their second win in overtime this year. It also marks Larke’s first game-winner of the season.

Free Hockey For Everyone! – Last weekend, the Rush played in back-to-back games past 60 minutes of play. This is the first time since October 26th and October 30th that the Rush have had back-to-back games with overtime or a shootout involved. In both instances, the Rush won both games.

Guess Who’s Back? – Tonight, making his return to the Black Hills is Rush forward Anthony Perdicaro. Perdicaro played for the Rush previously in the 2011/12 season, just his second year as a professional. In his time donning the Rush R, Perdicaro suited up in 41 games, scoring 10 goals paired with 7 assists for 17 points, while also logging 107 PIM. Perdicaro started off this season with the St. Charles Chill, before going to Nevada to play with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. Between both clubs, Perdicaro has played in 47 games this year, with 9 goals, 17 assists, and 26 points to his name.

“Power Kill” Shuts Down – Despite the slow start that Rush special teams have had, the penalty kill unit has stepped up. Now called the “Power Kill” unit, they have not allowed a power play goal in three consecutive games, and have held their opponents scoreless on their last 12 power play attempts.

CRUNCHING NUMBERS: VS the Cutthroats – The final game at home between the Rush and the Cutthroats is tonight. Let’s look at some numbers from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in this year’s series:

· +7 – the goal differential in favor of the Rush at home against Denver. This includes three consecutive games where the Rush scored 4 or more goals and allowed 2 or less.

· 27.5 – the Denver power play in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. With the recent success of Rush special teams, especially at home, this will undoubtedly be a major factor in determining a winner in tonight’s matchup. In 29 power plays, Denver has scored in 8.

· 6 – the number of points recorded by both Konrad Reeder and Jesse Schultz against the Cutthroats at home. This comes out to a point per game at home for each player, with Reeder boasting 3 goals and 3 assists, and Schultz boasting 1 goal and 5 assists.

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