(RAPID CITY, SD) – Hunter Fejes got his first goal as a professional to even things up early, and Josh MacDonald gave his team a fighting chance late in the second, but the Colorado Eagles dashed the home-opener of the Rapid City Rush, winning 4-2 in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Friday night.
Colorado opened up scoring in the 2016-17 edition of the rivalry at the midway point of the first. Casey Pierro-Zabotel got the Eagles on the board when he finished a centering pass from Luke Salazar in the near corner of the Rush zone. Pierro-Zabotel beat Rush net-minder Adin Hill with 8:42 of the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead (Salazar had the lone assist). After pounding the Colorado net consistently throughout the first period, the Rush finally broke the Eagles goal line and tied it up. Anthony Mastrodicasa fired a shot that was stopped by Eagles goaltender Kent Simpson, but Rush rookie Hunter Fejes grabbed the rebound, went to his backhand and finished to tie the game at 1-1 with 1:22 left in the frame (Mastrodicasa and Lindsay Sparks assisted).
Colorado added a pair in the second period to increase their lead by two. Darryl Bootland deflected a shot from Conor O’Donnell in front of Hill with 3:35 played into the frame to put the Eagles back on top with a 2-1 lead (O’Donnell and Ryan Harrison notched the helpers). Cole Sanford made it 3-1 with his first goal as a professional almost ten minutes later. With 7:22 left in the second, Sanford fired a wrist shot through traffic that beat Hill in the Rush net for his first career ignition of the goal lamp (Jesse Mychan and Jake Marto received the helpers). Down, but not out, the Rush came back within striking distance. With 3:40 remaining in the period, Brett Perlini and Ryan Misiak found Josh MacDonald in the low slot, and after a nifty move around a defender, MacDonald cashed in with a low blocker shot to bring the Eagles lead to 3-2 (Perlini and Misiak assisted). Only one goal would come for the remainder of the game, and that was on the stick of Luke Salazar into an empty Rush net. With exactly 1:00 remaining, the Rush pulled Adin hil for an extra skater, but Salazar sealed the game with his strike, giving the Eagles a 4-2 win (Johnny Lazo garnered the lone assist).
Adin Hill fell in his Rush debut, stopping 29 of 32 shots in the loss (0-1-0).
Both teams will rematch tomorrow night in the “Rocky Mountain State”. Puck drop at the Budweiser Events Center is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.
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