(RAPID CITY, SD) – In an exciting end to the preseason, the Rapid City Rush and the Colorado Eagles squared off in their final preseason tilt before the start of the ECHL’s 27th regular season. In a back-and-forth affair, the Rush would get the last laugh to date in the renewal of their old rivalry, with a 4-3 Rush win coming by virtue of a Winston Day Chief game-winner with 39.4 seconds left.
Both rivals picked up from where they left off last Friday, as they pace of the game and physical intensity were present from the opening puck drop. After surrendering the first goal on Saturday, the Rush turned the tables on the Eagles, cashing in late in the first period. On their first power play of the game, J.P. Chabot deflected a shot from Sean Erickson at the point to give the Rush their first specialty unit goal and their first lead in the preseason, a 1-0 lead with 4:09 left in the first. The Eagles fought back and carried some momentum into the locker room, but it was the Rush entering the intermission on top.
The Rush would assert themselves offensively in the second period, despite the low 6-shot total registered in the middle frame. Just over five minutes into the action, after the conclusion of the second Rush power play of the night, Scott Brannon delivered a highlight-reel-worthy goal off of his backhand to extend the Rush lead to 2-0, with Jake Hauswirth picking up his second assist of the night on the goal. The Rush would carry the momentum into the third period, especially after killing off a 5-on-3 Colorado power play with time to spare in the period.
The Eagles would claw back into the game by virtue of special teams play, despite spirited defensive efforts by the Rush. After a sprawling save by Rush goaltender Danny Battochio, Taylor Vause would bury the rebound on the back door to put the Eagles on the board and cut the deficit in half to 2-1 with just over 15 minutes left in the game. Daniel Barczuk would re-establish the two-goal lead for the Rush on a laser from the far faceoff dot, burning Doug Carr in Colorado’s net to give the Rush a 3-1 lead with 9:05 left in regulation. Despite the Rush’s best offensive efforts, the Eagles would storm back with another power play goal to bring the Eagles within striking distance once more, with Collin Bowman notching the goal with just over five minutes to play. Vitalijs Pavlovs would tie the game exactly 42 seconds later on a backdoor rebound to even the game at 3-3, a tally that would hold over to overtime.
In a very even-paced overtime period, it was the Rush who would get the last word to end the preseason. With 39.4 seconds left, Daniel Tetrault intercepted the puck, skated an entire lap around the offensive zone and threw the puck on net. Winston Day Chief cashed in on the loose puck and broke the hearts of the Eagles, giving the Rush a split of the preseason with their archrivals, and a 4-3 win.
Danny Battochio played the entire game in his first game back in a Rush uniform, making 29 stops on 32 shots on net (1-0-0 preseason). The Rush racked up their first power play goal of the preseason, with J.P. Chabot deflecting the puck, giving the Rush a 1/6 mark on the man-advantage in the preseason. Jake Hauswirth contributed two assists, while Daniel Tetrault earned his second point of the preseason on his assist to Day Chief. Both teams will be back in action in the ECHL season opener on Friday night, October 17th, with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
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