(WINDSOR, CO) – Logan Nelson notched 2 points, Mark Cooper had a 3-point night, and Terrence Wallin had a goal and an assist, but the captain stole the show with a hat-trick that capped off a 7-3 blowout win for the Rapid City Rush over the Colorado Eagles on Friday night. The win gives the Rush points in 5 of their last 8 games, and gives goaltender Marek Langhamer his fourth win in as many starts with the Rush (4-0-0).
It was the Rush that came out on top after the first period of play that saw both sides combine for 5 goals. The Rush jumped out to a 2-0 lead, starting with Ryan Misiak, who extended his point streak to four games with the first tally of the game. Just 3:16 into the contest, Logan Nelson fired immediately off of a Mark Cooper faceoff win, and Ryan Misiak deflected the puck, and beat Eagles goaltender Clarke Saunders, top shelf, to give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Cooper and Nelson assisted). Just over two minutes later, Cooper earned his second point and first by ignition of the goal lamp when Michael Young fore-checked in the near corner of the Eagles third. He centered the puck to an oncoming Cooper in the slot, and subsequently rifled it by Saunders to double the Rush lead to 2-0 at 5:33 of the first (Young had the lone assist). Colorado cut the deficit to 2-1 when Mitch Holmberg took advantage of a Rush turnover deep in their zone and fired a wrist shot from the high slot by Rush net-minder, Marek Langhamer, to bring the score to 2-1 with 10:53 left in the frame (the goal was unassisted). Following Colorado’s tally, the Eagles committed two penalties 44 seconds apart, therefore putting the Rush on a five-on-three power play. Ryan Walters took advantage 9 seconds into five-on-three hockey and deflected a Justin Hache shot by Saunders to re-establish the Rush lead to two goals at 3-1 with 6:53 left in the period (Hache and Dysin Mayo assisted). The power play goal gave the Rush a tally on the man-advantage in four of their last five games. Jesse Mychan brought Colorado back within striking distance 33 seconds into his team’s first power play of the game when he batted a puck down behind Langhamer within close range to bring the score to 3-2 heading into the first intermission (Jake Marto had the only assist).
Ryan Walters added a second tally in the second period to re-establish another Rush two-goal lead, and it eventually was the only goal scored in the frame. Just 1:50 into the second period, Terrence Wallin found Walters all alone in the high slot, and the captain finished with a wrist shot past Saunders to give the Rush a 4-2 lead (Wallin and Weselowski assisted).
The Rush re-opened the floodgates in the third period when the Nelson-Cooper duo struck off of another offensive zone draw. Cooper found Nelson off the faceoff and Nelson threw a backhander that rolled through Saunders to give the Rush a 5-2 lead (Cooper notched his third point on the lone assist). With the Colorado net empty with 4:20 to play, Jesse Mychan struck again within close range, banking the puck off of a body and into the Rush net to bring the Eagles to a 5-3 deficit (Josh Nicholls and Jake Marto assisted). Colorado continued to pull Clarke Saunders from their net, and the Rush capitalized twice to end the game. Terrence Wallin started off with a shot from the far faceoff circle of his own zone, and the puck trickled off an Eagles defender and in, bringing the Rush lead to 6-3 with 3:33 left in the game (the goal was unassisted). The captain then cashed in to complete his first hat-trick as a professional and threw the puck into the empty net with 2:01 left in the game, eventually bringing the Rush to a 7-3 win over their archrivals (the goal was unassisted).
Marek Langhamer remains perfect with the Rush, stopping 23 of 26 shots on his net in the win (4-0-0).
The Rush and the Eagles rematch tomorrow night in Rapid City at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center at 7:05 p.m. MST. The rematch comes on “Slap Shot Night”, where the Rush will pay homage to one of the best hockey movies of all-time with the legendary Hanson Brothers in attendance.