(TOLEDO, OH) – Josh MacDonald cut into his team’s deficit with a power play goal in the second period, but the Toledo Walleye rode Evan Rankin’s hat-trick to a 4-1 win over the Rapid City Rush on Sunday night. The conclusion of tonight’s game means that the Rush are now at the midway point of their six game/nine night/five city road trip.
Toledo struck first for a second consecutive night, and it would be the only ignition of the goal lamp between both teams in the opening frame. Evan Rankin knocked a rebound in front of the Rush net off of a scramble by a sprawled out Rush net-minder, Austin Lotz, to give the Walleye a 1-0 lead heading into the first period with 6:27 left in the frame (The Spink twins assisted).
Evan Rankin added a second tally to put the Walleye up 2-0 at the start of the second period. With 1:14 gone by, Rankin deflected a Jordan Hill shot from the near wall by the blocker of Lotz to extend Toledo’s lead to 2-0 (Hill and Tylor Spink assisted, the latter earning his second of the game). The Rush cut the deficit on a five-on-three power play goal to only trail by one heading into the third. With 10:30 left in the period, Josh MacDonald unloaded a one-timer by Walleye goaltender Jake Paterson to bring Toledo’s lead to 2-1 (Dysin Mayo earned the lone assist).
The Walleye once again used the third period to close the door and take a second win in as many nights against the Rush. A.J. Jenks, returning to the lineup for the first time since January 7th, took a pass from behind the Rush net and finished over Lotz’ glove to re-establish Toledo’s two-goal lead to 3-1 with 10:24 left in the game (Shane Berschbach and Zach Nastasiuk notched the assists). The Rush clawed throughout the period and with less than 90 seconds to play, pulled Lotz for an extra-attacker. Evan Rankin capped off the game by triggering a shower of hats, sending his third of the game into an empty Rush net with 59 seconds left in the game to seal it for the Walleye with a 4-1 final score (the goal was unassisted).
Austin Lotz, making his first start since January 14th, stopped 21 of 24 shots in the loss (2-4-2 totoal, 0-4-2 with Rush).
With half of their road trip completed, the Rush now head to Cincinnati to take on the Cyclones for the first time in team history. Puck drop is slated for 5:35 p.m. MST at US Bank Arena.