SLAPSHOT POSTGAME COVERAGE PRESENTED BY ASSURANT SOLUTIONS
BATTOCHIO HOLDS ON FOR THE WIN IN 11 SHOOTOUT ROUNDS
(WICHITA, KS) – The final game of the Rapid City Rush’s three game in three night in three different city road trip ended with the most entertaining game of the season to date against the Wichita Thunder at INTRUST Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon. In two previous meetings in this building, the losing team has failed to record a goal, but tonight would end that streak. In a crazy four-goal third period, and a game-tying tally from J.M. Rizk with 15.2 seconds left, followed by an 11-round shootout, the Rush would hang on and earn a sweep on this expedition, 5-4 over their hosts from Kansas.
For the first time in 122:13 of play, the Rush surrendered a goal. Kenton Miller came in the Rush zone on a breakaway and Danny Battochio stoned his attempt on goal. Unfortunately, despite the big stop, Ian Duval shot the puck off of Battochio and in, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead 2:13 into the game. Exactly 1:22 seconds later, Riley Weselowski would step up and even the scoreboard in the midst of four-on-four hockey. J.M. Rizk hit Dylan Clarke up the ice to start a rush, and Weselowski, staying onside by a hair, received a cross-ice pass and rifled it by his former goaltender in Tim Boron to tie the game up at 1-1. Later in the period, Winston Day Chief deflected a Jeremy Gates shot past Boron to give the Rush their first lead of the game at 2-1 with 5:37 left in the frame.
Weselowski added to his personal tally and gave the Rush a multi-goal lead in the second. 3:18 into the frame, the Rush had the offensive zone on a delayed call, giving the Rush an extra attacker. He did not factor into the play, but Weselowski did, jumping in from his blue line to extend the Rush lead to 3-1 heading into the third.
The final period gave the crowd at INTRUST Bank Arena their money’s worth, as they saw a four-goal period explode in front of them. The Thunder ripped off three straight, starting with Kenton Miller wristing one by a screened Battochio 3:29 into the period, to bring the Thunder within striking distance with a 3-2 count. Just over three minutes later, on a controversial sequence regarding a possible offsides, the Thunder’s R.G. Flath tied the game at 3, taking an Erick Lizon pass to do so. Exactly 1:14 later, the Thunder took their second lead of the contest, as Todd Hosmer, denied earlier in the game by Battochio, broke through and put one past him to give the Thunder a 4-3 advantage. It looked as though the Rush would drop the final road game in the span of 4:22 in the first half of the period, but luck would be on the side of the Boys from the Black Hills. With 15.2 seconds left, Sean Erickson rifled the puck through traffic and off the body of J.M. Rizk, sending a trickling puck behind Boron to tie the game at 4-4. Overtime loomed and sudden befell the Rush and Thunder.
With 2:34 left in the extra session, Justin Faryna was assessed a two-minute minor for tripping, leaving the Rush shorthanded for all but 34 seconds of the overtime period. The Rush killed it all off, eventually forcing a shootout. In the top of the fourth round, Winston Day Chief beat his former goaltender up high, giving the Rush a 1-0 lead in the breakaway session, but in their last moments of life, Ian Lowe tied the shootout with a tally in the final round of regular play. Five more rounds of sudden death would transpire with stops and misses by both sides, but eventually, Kyle Stroh struck on Boron in the 11th round of the shootout. Kyle Gibbons shot wide of Battochio, giving the Rush a well-deserved 5-4 win on the netminder’s birthday.
Battochio receives his eighth win of the season in his 200th professional game, his first in the shootout, stopping 26 of 30 shots thrown at his net (8-10-2). The Rush have completed a comeback with a win for the first time all season long, and did so with just 15.2 seconds left in the game. Riley Weselowski recorded the third multi-goal game of his career with his first two of the season, just days after playing his 350th game as a professional. Also reaching a milestone was Jesse Schultz, recording an assist on his 700th professional game. The Rush sweep the road trip, and head back to Premier Home Mortgage Ice and Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for the start of a two-game set against the Missouri Mavericks on December 26th and 27th, with both games scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MST starts.
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