(RAPID CITY, SD) – The line of Lindsay Sparks, Ryan Walters, and Josh MacDonald combined for 6 goals, 10 assists, and 16 points, with Sparks and MacDonald setting franchise history as the Rapid City Rush outlasted the Fort Wayne Komets in a barnburner that concluded with abn 8-6 final score on Friday night.
The Rush began the scoring entries at the 6:19 mark of the opening frame, courtesy of Daniel Barczuk’s 11th tally of the season. The Rush pressed in the Fort Wayne zone, and eventually found a scenario with bodies coming towards the Komets net. Spencer Pommells found Barczuk in the high slot, and Barczuk had time to settle the bouncing puck and fling it by Fort Wayne goaltender, Pat Nagle, to put the Rush up 1-0 on the first registered Rush shot of the contest (Pommells and Ryan Misiak recorded the helpers). Fort Wayne’s captain, Jamie Schaafsma, tied the game at 1-1 just over the midway point of the period, poking a backdoor rebound by Rush net-minder Danny Battochio, evening the contest at 11:43 of the first (Garrett Meurs and Paul Crowder got the assists). Exactly 1:12 later, Lindsay Sparks added to his highlight reel with his third goal in a Rush uniform, and put the Rush back on top in doing so. Brian O’Rourke intercepted a neutral zone pass and sprung newcomer Josh MacDonald on an odd-man opportunity. MacDonald dropped back to Sparks, who worked his magic by swimming through the low slot, eventually hitting pay dirt off the crossbar and in, pushing the Rush up 2-1 with 7:05 left in the frame (MacDonald notched the assist in his Rush debut, while O’Rourke picked up the secondary assist).
Rush special teams increased the lead at the start of the second period, with a familiar face igniting the goal. With 2:21 gone by in the second, Mikhail Stefanovich notched his 16th goal of the season, sending a one-timer by Nagle to double the Rush lead to two goals at 3-1 on his club’s second power play of the game (Sparks notched his second point with his first assist, while Brian O’Rourke added his first assist). Fort Wayne countered with a power play goal of their own thanks to Trevor Cheek, who snapped a shot from the far wall of the Rush zone by Battochio to bring the Komets within striking distance at 3-2 with 15:52 left in the period (Jordan Southorn and Kyle Thomas earned the helpers. Thomas added his second point over two minutes later, scoring his first of three goals in the contest to even the score at 3-3 on a breakaway with 13:10 left in the second (Leo Thomas registered the lone assist). With 10:28 left in the period, Sparks deflected a Brian O’Rourke point shot by Nagle to re-establish the Rush lead for a third time in the game, earning his third point of the game at this juncture to put the Rush up 4-3 (O’Rourke and Josh MacDonald each earned their second assist on the goal). Less than a minute later however, the Komets would even the score again, courtesy of Leo Thomas with 9:32 left in the second, bringing each team to a 4-4 draw heading into the final period of regulation (Will Weber picked up the lone assist).
If the five goals between both clubs in the second frame weren’t enough for the hockey enthusiasts participating in the contest, then the six in the third period should do the trick. Rush rookie Josh MacDonald added to his stellar debut with his third point of the game, sniping a wrist shot by Nagle with just 82 seconds gone by in the final period. His first goal in a Rush uniform put the Rush up 5-4 (Sparks picked up his fourth point and his second assist, while Walters added his second assist and point on the tally). MacDonald doubled his goal total less than five minutes later, taking another feed from Sparks that he sent behind Nagle to increase the Rush lead to 6-4 with 13:45 left in the game (Sparks picked up his fifth point on his third assist, tying a Rush single-game franchise record, while Walters tripled his assist count to three at this juncture). The goal prompted the substitution of Pat Nagle, bringing former Colorado Avalanche draft pick, Spencer Martin, to man the Komets net for the remainder of regulation. The Komets responded to the goaltender change, as Kyle Thomas struck twice just over seven minutes apart. His first tally came from Mason Baptista and Jordan Southorn (his second assist and point), bringing the Komets back within one at 6-5 with 12:33 left in the contest. Thomas completed his hat trick, bringing his final total to four points in the game, with a shot from the far wall in the Rush zone that tied the game at 6-6 with 5:23 left in the game (Leo Thomas earned his third point with his second assist, the lone one on the goal). Not to be outdone by his linemates, Ryan Walters notched his fourth point of the game, his first goal in a Rush uniform, after he sent a trickling puck by Spencer Martin to put the Rush on top for good at 7-6 with 1:39 left in the game (Sparks set a Rush single-game franchise record with his sixth point, doing so by tying the Rush franchise record for assists in a single game with his fourth on the goal; MacDonald brought his point total to five with his third helper on the tally). MacDonald capped of his Rush debut by tying the record that Sparks set on the goal prior, notching his sixth point of the game with an empty-netter to complete his hat-trick with 10.7 seconds left in the game. MacDonald became the second rookie in Rush history to trigger a shower of hats, and became the first player in Rush history to accomplish the same task in his Rush debut, and his historic strike helped the Rush complete the scoring entries and the game with a final score of 8-6 (Ryan Misiak notched his second assist on the empty-netter).
Danny Battochio stopped 24 of 30 Fort Wayne shots, winning his 17th game of the year (17-15-3).
Both teams square off in a rematch tomorrow night at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center at 7:05 p.m. MST.
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