Rapid City Rush vs. Reading Royals
Regular Season Game #11-November 5, 2016
Where We Left Off: Battle Royale – Nick Walters scored his first professional goal, and Nathan Moon and Hunter Fejes gave the Rapid City Rush a chance in the second period, but it was the Reading Royals that came out on top in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, as they defeated the Rush 6-3 on Friday night. It was a high-flying first period in the first ever matchup between Reading and Rapid City with minimal stoppages, but in the opening frame it was the former that got the first word. After Olivier Labelle missed a penalty shot against the Rush, Florian Iberer fired a blue-line shot that deflected off Robbie Czarnik in front and by Rush net-minder Kent Patterson to put Reading up 1-0 7:51 into the game (Iberer and Kevin Sundher assisted). Despite an early offensive barrage, the Rush battled back and tied it with 22.8 seconds left thanks to the first professional goal of Nick Walters. Michael Young and Ryan Walters both had shot attempts blocked, but Walters flew off the blue line and unloaded into the rebound, sending his first career goal by Reading goalie Martin Ouelette to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the second. Mike Pelech put the Royals back on top within the first minute of the second period. Just 51 seconds in, Pelech banked the puck off of a Rush defender in front and behind Patterson to push the Royals to a 2-1 lead (Steven Swavely assisted). Moments later, Kevin Sundher took an Olivier Labelle pass and extended Reading’s lead to 3-1 with 11:25 left in the second (Labelle and Todd Perry got the assists). Nick Luukko made it 4-1 when, after serving a minor penalty, he came out of the box and was sprung on a breakaway from Mike Pereira to make it 4-1 with 8:38 left in the period (Pereira earned the lone assist). The Rush fired back with a pair in the latter stages of the period, starting with 5:42 left in the period. On their fourth power play of the game, Nathan Moon slammed home a series off passes to cut Reading’s lead to 4-2 (Hunter Fejes and Ryan Walters assisted, and the latter earned his second of the game). Fejes brought the Rush within striking distance with 25.4 seconds left in the frame. Powering into the Reading zone after he received a Brayden Low pass, Fejes sent a near-wall wrist shot off of Ouelette’s glove and in, bringing the Rush deficit to 4-3 (Low and Moon assisted, with Moon notching his second point). Reading pulled away in the third when Olivier Labelle stuffed a loose rebound in front of the Rush net to re-establish their 2-goal lead at 5-3 in the first 2:27 of the third (Todd Perry and Chris McCarthy assisted). With a late power play and the net empty for an extra-attacker, the Rush were unable to chisel and their disadvantage, and Steve Swavely scored in the empty 4’x6’ from his own zone with 1:10 left in the game to seal the win for Reading at 6-3 (Derik Johnson earned the helper).
PAST 5 GAMES
5-2-0-1 (T-1st North)
McCarthy/Swavely/Labelle (8pts Each)
2-7-1-0 (T-6th Mountain)
Sparks/R. Walters (16pts Each)
HEAD TO HEAD – 1 OF 2 GAMES PLAYED
Sundher/Swavely/Labelle/Perry (2pts Each)
Moon/Fejes/R. Walters (2pts Each)
Killing Them Softly – Special teams play has been a common topic of conversation recently for the Rush. Not only are they still in the top 10 in the league in power play percentage, but the team is slowly starting to climb the ladder on the penalty-killing side of the spectrum. The team is clocking in at a respectable 81%, which is in the bottom third of the league. That percentage, and ranking for that matter, is misleading given the recent performance of the Rush PK unit. It’s misleading for a number of reasons: for starters, the Rush have allowed 3 opposing power plays or less in all but one game through the first 10 games of the season, coming into tonight’s rematch with a share of the fourth-lowest total of power plays allowed to their opposition. Secondly, they have not allowed a power play goal in five straight games and have killed off 8 straight dating back to their loss on October 26th at Colorado. Additionally, in one of those five games, they didn’t even go on the penalty kill! That came against Alaska in the team’s first win of the season back on October 29th.
Make it a First – One of the lone bright spots of last night’s loss to Reading was the play of rookie defenseman Nick Walters. The former St. Louis Blues draft pick slammed home an open-area puck for his first career goal, tying the game up at 1-1 with 22.8 seconds left in the first period. Walters becomes the third player on the Rush roster this season to notch his first career ignition of the goal lamp, joining fellow rookies Brayden Low and Hunter Fejes in that respect.
Sharing is Caring – Unfortunately, the dominant 9-game point streak of Lindsay Sparks came to an end in last night’s loss to Reading, but the assist and point streaks of Ryan Walters continued as he added a pair of helpers last night. The 2 extra points for the former Hobey Baker finalist now give him a share of the ECHL’s scoring lead with Sparks: both gentlemen now have 16 points to their credit. Walters also leads the ECHL with 12 assists.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING! – Only two players come into tonight’s showdown with the Royals with statistical streaks on the line:
· Ryan Walters – has assists and points in his last six games (4g-9ast-13pts), and multi-point performances in his last four