SLAPSHOT POSTGAME COVERAGE PRESENTED BY ASSURANT SOLUTIONS
RUSH FALL IN BACK-AND-FORTH GAME; ON BRINK OF ELIMINATION
(RAPID CITY, SD) – Winston Day Chief recorded 2 goals, and Kale Kerbashian earned 3 assists in his return to the lineup, but the Allen Americans rode another strong third period and defeated the Rapid City Rush by a 7-4 score in Game 4 of the ECHL’s Central Division Finals on Saturday night. The Americans win gives them a 3-1 series lead, and puts the Rush on the brink of elimination for a second time this postseason.
Two nights in a row, the Rush found themselves on the board first. With 7:41 gone by in the first period, Rush Captain Winston Day Chief settled a bouncing puck in a traffic jam in front of the net and sniped a wrist shot under the bar of Riley Gill’s net in the Americans goal, lifting the Rush to a 1-0 lead.
The second period saw the most combined offense in a single period in this series, with 5 goals coming from both sides. Chris Crane tied things up for the Americans at 1-1 on his second goal of the playoffs with 2:16 gone by in the second period, sending a centering feed from Greger Hanson by Rush netminder Danny Battochio. Exactly 47 seconds later, however, Winston Day Chief scored his second goal of the night, banking a Kale Kerbashian pass off of his leg by Gill to re-establish the Rush lead at 2-1 at the 3:03 mark of the second. Ian Schultz scored his fifth goal of the playoffs and fourth in this series to equalize things again, bringing his Americans squad to a 2-2 score as he ripped a wrist shot on a pass from Chad Costello at the 4:43 mark of the second period. Greger Hanson gave the Americans their first lead of the game at 13:41 of the middle frame at 3-2, capitalizing on a bouncing puck at the top of the Rush zone and sneaking the puck to the corner of Battochio’s net. However, Dallas Ehrhardt struck back for the Rush with his first goal of the postseason just 1:04 later, tying the game at 3-3 on a shot through traffic with 14:45 gone by in the second.
Both teams carried a 3-3 tie into the third period, and the plethora of goals kept coming. Michael Young re-established the Rush lead 2:55 into the final period with his second goal of the playoffs, sending a loose puck in open ice past Gill to elevate the Rush to a 4-3 lead. The lead was short-lived, as the Americans evened things up less than 2 minutes later. Gary Steffes notched his sixth goal of the playoffs, sending a sharp-angle shot by Battochio with 4:39 played in the third. Greger Hanson accumulated a second goal on the evening as he put a Trevor Ludwig pass by Battochio, squeaking the puck under the Rush netminder to give the Americans to a 5-4 advantage. Rylan Schwartz added his first of the playoffs to double the visitor’s lead to 2 goals at the 9:05 mark of the third period. Rounding out the scoring entries was Spencer Asuchak, who earned his seventh ignition of the goal lamp this postseason, shorthanded, at 12:37 of the final frame, bringing the Americans to a 7-4 final score and a 3-1 lead in the Central Division Finals.
Danny Battochio received his sixth loss of the playoffs, stopping 26 of 33 shots (5-6-0).
The Rush play in a do-or-die Game 5 tomorrow at 5:05 p.m. MST in Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
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