(RAPID CITY, SD) – Zach Luczyk scored his first professional goal in the first and set the table for Ryan Misiak, Sean Erickson, Lindsay Sparks, and Brian O’Rourke to unload in the third period as the Rapid City Rush defeated their archrivals, the Colorado Eagles, by a 5-2 score on Tuesday night.
Zach Luczyk put his team on the board in the final five minutes of the first period to open the contest’s scoring entries. With 4:59 left in the frame, Jonathan Narbonne kept the puck in the Eagles zone on the near side of the blue line, eventually watching Mikhail Stefanovich glove it down. Not even a second after the puck settled, Stefanovich went cross-ice to Luczyk, who scored his first professional goal against Eagles goaltender Eric Levine to put the Rush up 1-0 (Stefanovich and Narbonne earned the helpers).
That goal would remain as the lone tally through forty minutes of play, and was followed by a six-goal third period between both clubs. The Rush struck twice within 40 seconds to pull ahead, starting with Ryan Misiak’s sixth goal of the year. Ryan Walters took the puck from behind the net and backhanded it cross-ice in the low slot, with Misiak finishing on a wrist shot by a diving Levine to double the Rush count to 2-0 with 1:33 gone by in the final period (Walters and Josh MacDonald notched the assists). Not a moment later, Winston Day Chief led Lindsay Sparks into the Rush attacking third, and then Sparks dropped back to Sean Erickson coming on to the play who finished with a shot through traffic to triple the Rush lead to 3-0 with 2:13 played in the third (Sparks and Day Chief earned the assists). Colorado put themselves on the board thanks to Everett Sheen, who along with Kyle Ostrow took advantage of a Rush turnover while their opposition was on their final power play of the night. Ostrow connected with Sheen, who finished on Rush net-minder Danny Battochio to cut the Rush lead to 3-1 with 14:34 left in regulation (Ostrow garnered the lone assist). The Rush re-established their three-goal lead after Winston Day Chief set up Spencer Pommells and Lindsay Sparks on a two-on-one. Pommells deferred to Sparks and executed the odd-man rush perfectly, which resulted in a 4-1 Rush lead with 10:57 left in the game (Pommells earned an assist, while Day Chief notched his second of the game on the tally). Eagles captain Trent Daavettila brought his club closer when he deflected a Colin Joe shot from the far wall of the Rush zone by Battochio, changing the score to a 4-2 count in Rush favor with 6:44 left in the game (Joe earned a helper while Ostrow recorded his second of the contest). The late push by the Eagles would be thwarted with 73 seconds left in the game, despite a six-on-four advantage due to a Sparks minor and Levine shooting to the bench, when Brian O’Rourke took advantage and flung the puck around 180 feet into the empty cage, propelling the Rush to what would ultimately be a 5-2 victory (Danny Battochio earned the lone assist on the goal).
Battochio stopped 29 of 31 shots in recording his 19th win of the season (19-16-3). Battochio also registered an assist on the empty-net/shorthanded goal, accomplishing that feat since the 2010/11 CHL season, his second as a professional.
The Rush rematch the Eagles tomorrow night at the Budweiser Events Center at 7:05 p.m. MST. It marks the final head-to-head showdown between the bitter rivals for the 2015-16 campaign.
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