(RAPID CITY, SD) – The Rapid City Rush had five different goal scorers and struck twice against the best penalty-kill in the ECHL, as the Rush defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 5-2 on Sunday afternoon. The win not only gave the Rush a split of the series with South Carolina through two games, but also gave Rush Head Coach Mark DeSantis his 100th win as a head coach in professional hockey, coincidentally on his 200th game coached as a professional head coach.
Both teams skated to a scoreless duel in the first, but the Rush started off the game with great intensity and carried it into the second, taking an early 2-0 lead against the Stingrays. Former Stingray Anthony Collins got things started for the Rush when Colton Saucerman turned the puck over to Collins. Saucerman’s pass was batted down in the Stingrays zone by Collins, who then fired a shot by South Carolina goaltender Steve Summerhays to put the Rush up 1-0 6:10 into the second period (the goal was unassisted). Just over three minutes later, on their third power play of the game, the Rush doubled their lead when Ryan Walters found Logan Nelson approaching Summerhays in the low slot. Nelson finished with a backhander in close range and gave the Rush a 2-0 lead with 9:14 played in the period (Walters earned the lone assist). Just 42 seconds later, however, South Carolina cut the deficit in half. With 9:46 gone by, Joey Leach blasted a rebound off of a blocked shot by Rush net-minder Adam Morrison over his shoulder to reduce the Rush lead to 2-1 (John Parker earned the lone assist). With time winding down in the period, the Rush capitalized on what would be their final power play of the game to take a 3-1 lead into the third. With 40.7 seconds left, Hunter Fejes took a pass from Mike Monfredo and fired a sharp-angle shot from the near wall of the Stingrays zone. His shot was stopped by Summerhays, but he dropped the puck over the goal line, and after the head referee conferred with the goal judge, who signaled a goal with the goal lamp, it was determined we had a good goal on the ice, giving the Rush a 3-1 lead (Monfredo and Riley Weselowski assisted).
A flurry of scoring between both sides occurred in last half of the third period, with the Rush coming out on top. With 6:58 left in the game, Patrick Gaul finished on a bouncing rebound by Adam Morrison in close range after a flurry of saves to bring the Stingrays within one at 3-2 (Patrick Megannety assisted). However, 34 seconds later, the Rush responded and pulled away for good. With 6:24 left in the game, Austin McKay rifled a shot from the near faceoff circle in the attacking zone by Summerhays, but his attempt was denied by the far post. McKay managed to grab his rebound and stuff it into the net, re-establishing the Rush advantage to two goals at 4-2 (Terrence Wallin notched the lone assist). Less than two minutes later, Nick Miglio sprinted nearly the full length of the ice with the puck and lead Terrence Wallin down the far wall of the South Carolina zone. Wallin then squeaked the puck in an open area for Miglio, who zipped a shot by Summerhays by his glove to vault the Rush to a 5-2 lead (Wallin notched the only assist for his second of the game). South Carolina was awarded a power play late in the game, and added to the advantage by pulling Summerhays from their net for a 6-on-4 advantage. The Rush withstood the Stingrays late attempts, and hung on for a 5-2 win, giving Rush Head Coach Mark DeSantis his 100th win as a head coach in pro hockey, coincidentally enough in his 200th game coached.
Adam Morrison stopped 23 of 25 shots faced, earning the win against his former club (11-9-4).
Both teams battle in a rubber match tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m. MST. The game being played tomorrow night is a re-scheduling of the February 24th contest that was postponed due to ice issues at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.