(RAPID CITY, SD) – Charlie Sampair netted the game-winner with 3:30 left in the game, and Dylan Hubbs sealed it with an empty-netter late as the Tulsa Oilers evened their three-game set with the Rapid City Rush by a 3-1 score on Friday night. The win not only forces a rubber match tomorrow night, but ends a six-game winless streak, coinciding with the return of Oilers Head Coach Rob Murray from his medical emergency that he sustained last week.
Both teams skated to a scoreless deadlock after one period of play, and almost turned that into two periods without a goal. Late in the second, however, the Rush would break the deadlock and carry a lead into the lead into the third period. With 1:33 remaining, Alex Guptill gained leverage on a loose puck in the high slot of the Oilers zone and rifled a shot by the blocker of Tulsa goaltender Jake Hildebrand to give the Rush the 1-0 advantage (Andrew Miller had the only assist).
Tulsa quickly fired back at the start of the third period, and would eventually overtake the Rush, starting the comeback when Conner Bleackly side-stepped Rush net-minder Adam Vay in close range and slipped the puck by his frame, tying the game at 1-1 just 43 seconds into the final period (Alexandre Ranger earned the only helper). In the final moments of the period, Tulsa took over when a two-on-one opportunity was presented to them in neutral ice. Evan Richardson recovered a loose puck around a diving defenseman, and had Charlie Sampair streaking to the back door of the Rush net. Richardson sent a pass by another diving defenseman to Sampair, who’s one-timer escaped Vay and gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead with 3:30 left in the game (Richardson earned the lone assist). The Rush had one final chance with a man-advantage and an extra-attacker on top for a 6-on-4 power play in the last two minutes, but Dylan Hubbs found the puck in neutral ice and fired a shorthanded empty-net goal by the Rush defenders with 65 seconds left in the game, sealing a 3-1 win in the return of Head Coach Rob Murray from his medical emergency last week.
Adam Vay fell for a third consecutive start, stopping all but 3 of 37 shots towards his net (2-3-0).
The rubber match, falling on “Guns n’ Hoses Night” is tomorrow at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.