(RAPID CITY, SD) – On three different occasions, the Rapid City Rush brought the game within one goal, but it was once again the Reading Royals that came out on top, sweeping the Rush in the weekend set with a 5-3 win on Saturday night.
Reading struck first for a second consecutive night, and both of their tallies came from Kevin Sundher. Sundher’s first of the game came off of an offensive zone draw that was won by Robbie Czarnik. Sundher unloaded on the pass and beat Rush net-minder Chuck Grant bar-down to give Reading a 1-0 lead 9:21 into the contest (Czarnik garnered the lone assist). Sundher’s second came from in front of the net on a rebound after a flurry of Reading chances, doubling the Royals lead to 2-0 (Nick Luukko and Chris McCarthy assisted).
Lindsay Sparks brought the Rush within one over the midway point of the second period. Ryan Walters led the puck ahead for Josh MacDonald and he fired a shot from the near faceoff circle. MacDonald’s shot was stopped by Reading goaltender Mark Dekanich, but Sparks buried the rebound to halve the Rush deficit at 2-1 with 7:21 left in the second (MacDonald and Walters assisted: the latter extending his assist and point streaks to 7 games). Ryan Penny re-established Reading’s two-goal lead when he sent a Mike Pelech feed from the near corner by Grant in the slot to push Reading to a 3-1 lead with 2:45 left in the frame (Pelech and Steve Swavely assisted).
Playing on the theme of call-and-response, the Rush responded with the first strike of the third. With 4:52 gone by in the third, Anthony Collins deflected a Ryan Misiak blue line shot by Dekanich to bring the Rush within one again at 3-2 (Misiak and Nathan Moon earned the helpers). Despite the charge, Reading answered again to pad their lead. With 10:39 left in the game, a miscue on the Reading blue line led to a 3-on-0 Royals attack. Chris McCarthy deferred to Olivier Labelle, and he found a trailing Mike Pereira to send the puck in, bringing Reading’s lead to 4-2 (McCarthy and Labelle assisted). Once again, the Rush came close, and it was Josh MacDonald who sent a hard near-wall wrist shot off of Dekanich and in to close the Rush gap to 4-3 with 6:47 left in the contest (Mark Cooper earned the lone assist). The final goal of the wild third period came to Reading, and it halted the Rush momentum. On the final Rush power play of the game, a blue line turnover sprung Todd Perry on a breakaway, and he beat Grant in close range to bring the Reading lead, and the game’s final score, to 5-3 with 4:45 left in the contest (the goal was unassisted).
Chuck Grant stopped 24 of 29 shots, suffering the defeat (0-3-0).
The Rush now wait a home-and-home series with the Colorado Eagles this upcoming weekend. Puck drop for both nights, Friday November 11th in Colorado and Saturday November 12th in Rapid City, are slated for 7:05 p.m. MST puck drops. Saturday’s game features the Rush’s annual “Military Appreciation Night”. For more information, call our office at 716-PUCK.