(RAPID CITY, SD) – Michael Joly scored a hat trick, completed in a five-goal third period for the Colorado Eagles, who took down the Rapid City Rush with a 7-3 win on Wednesday night.
Both teams skated to a scoreless draw after one period of play, but the Eagles surged for a quick pair of goals in the first two minutes of the second. The ECHL’s leading goal-scorer, Michael Joly, started things off for the defending champs when he zipped an east/west centering pass from Drayson Bowman off of Rush net-minder Adam Vay and in, leading the Eagles to a 1-0 lead just 61 seconds into the frame (Bowman and Jake Marto assisted). Exactly 58 seconds later, Matt Register took a pass off of his blue line from Eagles captain Matt Garbowsy, walked towards the net and faked a shot, then backhanded a shot off the glove arm of Vay and in to double the Eagles lead to 2-0 at the 1:58 mark of the frame (Garbowsky had the lone assist). The second goal prompted the removal of Vay from the game for the Rush and gave way to Storm Phaneuf, who stopped all 9 shots he saw in relief in the second period. Looking for some life, the Rush got it from Jimmy DeVito just before the break. With 12.1 seconds left, DeVito pounced on a loose puck in a scramble in front of the Colorado net and squeaked the puck by Eagles goaltender Lukas Hafner to halve the deficit to 2-1 heading into the third period (Alex Guptill and Gustav Bouramman assisted).
Colorado jumped back out by two to start the third period and didn’t look back less than two minutes into the final period. With 1:33 gone by, Joly notched his second of the season, gloving down the puck in front of the Rush net, settling it, and backhanding it behind Phaneuf to push Colorado to a 3-1 lead (Garbowsky and Drayson Bowman assisted). Eighty seconds later, Joey Ratelle deflected a Gabriel Verpaelst shot by Phaneuf to make it 4-1 for the defending champs with 2:53 played in the third (Verpaelst and Gage Ausmus assisted). Ausmus later added a goal to his tally on the second, and final, Rush power play of the game to give Colorado a four-goal lead. With 12:54 left in the game, Ausmus trailed a shorthanded rush down the ice and buried his pass by Phaneuf, making it a 5-1 advantage on the eighth shorthanded goal given up by the Rush this season (Joly and Ben Storm assisted). Colorado later had a two-man advantage, and just as it expired, Jesse Mychan buried by Phaneuf to extend the lead to 6-1 with 9:37 left in the game (Verpaelst and Bowman assisted). The fourth goal of the period prompted the re-entry of Vay into the game for Phaneuf in the Rush net. After a series of skirmishes broke out, Michael Joly triggered a shower of hats from Eagles fans back in Colorado when he completed his hat trick, the first surrendered to an opponent by the Rush this season, on a back-door pass on Colorado’s last power play of the game, making it a 7-1 lead with 7:19 remaining in regulation (Garbowsky and Drayson Bowman assisted). Under a minute later, following another fight, Ian Brady, in the midst of four-on-four hockey, helped cut the deficit to five when he fired a Jimmy DeVito cross-ice pass off of his blue line through Hafner’s five hole to bring the Eagles lead to 7-2 with 6:27 left in regulation (DeVito and Anthony Collins assisted). Dante Salituro capped off the scoring in the contest with a backhand shot shortly after an offensive zone faceoff off of the post and in with 16.5 seconds remaining in the game to bring us to the eventual 7-3 final score in favor of the Eagles (Alex Guptill had the only assist).
Storm Phaneuf picked up the loss in relief of Adam Vay, stopping 15 of 19 shots in 28:24 of relief (1-3-0). Vay started the contest and played until the 1:59 mark of the second period, then re-entered at the 10:23 mark of the third. All-in-all, Vay played in 31:36 of the game, and stopped 7 of 10 shots.
Both teams will rematch in Colorado on Friday, December 8th, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at the Budweiser Events Center.