(RAPID CITY, SD) – Spencer Pommells scored twice and Dan O’Donoghue provided the game-winning tally in the third as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Alaska Aces by a 3-2 score on Friday night. The contest marked the home debut of new Rush Head Coach, Mark DeSantis.
Alaska opened up scoring entries in a frame that saw both teams strike. Colin Valcourt sprung Stephen Perfetto and Peter Sivak on a two-on-one break through the neutral zone. Perfetto deferred to Sivak, who sent a one-timer past Rush net-minder, Danny Battochio, from the far side of the Rush zone to lift his visiting club to a 1-0 advantage at the 5:41 mark of the first (Perfetto and Valcourt notched the assists). Less than two minutes later, the Rush struck back and evened the score with Spencer Pommells earning his twelfth goal of the season. Pommells received the puck from Taylor Doherty, and instead of blasting a one-timer, patiently toe-dragged the puck around his oncoming assailant and sent a wrister by Aces goaltender Troy Redmann, knotting the game up at 1-1 with 7:02 played in the first (Doherty and Brian O’Rourke earned the helpers).
Both teams skated to a scoreless second period, but it was not without high-quality scoring chances. Alaska’s Ryan Tesink was denied on three different breakaways by Battochio, who played like the “Golden Goalie” that his ECHL specialty jersey signified. Additionally, both sides could not capitalize on the man-advantage, prompting a 20-minute race to the finish after two periods.
Alaska jumped back on top just 35 seconds into the final period, with Justin Breton notching his 17th goal of the season through traffic that put the Aces up 2-1 (Garrett Haar and Ryan Tesink got the assists). The Rush would eventually overcome the Aces, starting with a game-tying goal that was a result of smart timing. With 7:52 left in the game, following the final Aces power play of the game, Michael Young was exiting the Rush penalty box and received a pass from Danick Gauthier in the neutral zone. Young burst into the Aces zone, and connected with Pommells on a two-on-one, with Pommells deflecting the puck by Redmann to square things up at 2-2 (Young and Gauthier registered the assists). Exactly 90 seconds later, Alaska’s Mitch Jones turned the puck over behind Redmann’s net, giving Daniel Barczuk an opportunity on net. Dan O’Donoghue picked his rebound up and sent it by Redmann to push the Rush up 3-2, winning his club their second straight game over their West Division rivals.
Danny Battochio earned his 15th win of the season, stopping 22 of 24 shots faced (15-14-3).
Both teams rematch tomorrow night in game two of this “three-in-three” at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.
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