(RAPID CITY, SD) – Zach Cohen gave the Rush a spark late in the game with his seventh goal of the season, and Sam Marotta played admirably in goaltending relief, but the Missouri Mavericks scored three first period goals in quick fashion to split the series with the Rapid City Rush, defeating the hosts by a 3-1 score on Saturday night.
The Mavericks changed the narrative of this series with three goals in a 4:09 span in the first period. The first strike came at 2:29 of the first: Winston Day Chief finished a 3-on-2 break down the ice, but his shot went wide and took an awkward bounce off of the glass. In stride, Jesse Root of the Mavericks took the puck the other way and saw his pass get deflected by Rocco Carzo and by Rush net-minder, Danny Battochio, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead (Root garnered the only assist). Exactly 34 seconds later, long-time Maverick Andrew Courtney slammed a loose puck in the low slot by Battochio to double his team’s lead to 2-0 (Sebastien Sylvestre and Trevor Ludwig). Capping off the scoring rally at 6:38 of the first frame was Scott Wamsganz, who’s first goal of the season, like Courtney’s tally in an earlier sequence in the game, was made possible by knocking the puck in from point blank range. The goal, assisted by Reed Seckel and Kane Lafranchise, gave the Mavericks a 3-0 lead, and prompted the substitution of Danny Battochio in the Rush net. Sam Marotta, making his second appearance on home-ice, took over the defense of the Rush goal for the remainder of regulation.
Zach Cohen gave the Rush some life within the first two minutes of the third period, breaking up the Josh Robinson’s bid for a shutout. With 18:01 left in the game, Cohen followed his opportunity on net and hacked a rebound over Robinson’s glove that trickled into the net, cutting the Mavericks advantage to 3-1 (Sean Erickson recorded the lone assist). With 3:05 left, Marotta was pulled from the Rush net in favor of an extra-attacker, but the Rush could not capitalize on the plethora of quality chances they created late in the game. Josh Robinson hung on for his fourteenth straight win, now second all-time in ECHL history, staving off a Rush comeback with a 3-1 Mavericks win.
Danny Battochio played 6:38 of game time and stopped 6 of 9 shots, receiving the loss (11-7-2). Sam Marotta played 50:04 of relief and stopped all 22 shots he saw.
The Rush head to the road to play four games in five nights in three different cities, starting with the Evansville IceMen on Wednesday, January 13th. Puck drop at the Ford Center is slated for 5:15 p.m. MST.
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