(RAPID CITY, SD) – Peter Sivak and Jack Walker built the Rapid City Rush a 2-0 lead in the middle of the second period, but the Idaho Steelheads, led by 2 power play goals, including the game-winner from newly acquired Cole Ully with 5:10 left in the game, defeated the Rush by a 3-2 score on Friday night. The loss marks 10 in a row for the Rush, tying the franchise record set in the 2015-16 ECHL season.
For the first time since the Teddy Bear Toss on November 25th, the Rush drew first blood, and got the goal, coincidentally enough, from the man responsible for triggering the shower of bears that evening. At 9:35 of the first period, Peter Sivak took a feed from the corner from Pavel Jenys, and beat Idaho goaltender Philippe Desrosiers on the far post with a one-timer from the left-wing faceoff circle to put the Rush up 1-0 (Jenys and Kenton Miller assisted).
Jack Walker struck for a second time in as many nights to give the Rush a 2-0 lead with the first scoring entry of the second period. With 8:20 gone by in the second, Griffin Foulk fired a puck from the near wall of the Steelheads zone that was originally stopped by Desrosiers. The puck took a high bounce in the crease, and Walker slammed the rebound home to give the Rush a 2-0 lead (Foulk earned his first pro point with the primary assist, while Daniel Leavens earned the other for his first point with the Rush). Idaho cut the deficit in half with a power play goal on their third advantage of the game in the final minutes of the period. With 2:46 left in the second, Will Merchant ripped a shot from the right-wing faceoff circle that was deflected by Henrik Samuelsson past Rush net-minder Christian Frey to bring the Rush lead to 2-1 heading into the third (Merchant and Joe Faust assisted).
The Steelheads squared the game up one second shy of the midway point for their second unanswered goal of the game. With 10:01 left in the game, Corey Durocher deflected a Tommy Thompson pass from the near wall of the Rush zone on a middle-lane drive to tie the game up at 2-2 (Thompson and Faust assisted). Under two minutes later, the turning point on the game came to a head when Josh Elmes was assessed a five-minute major for boarding Idaho’s Connor Chatham, leading the Steelheads to a score-at-will power play. The Rush almost killed off the five-minute barrage, but Cole Ully, newly acquired on his assignment from the Texas Stars of the AHL, stuck the dagger in the Rush with a one-time shot from the right-wing faceoff circle to give the Steelheads the deciding goal with 5:10 left in the game to make it 3-2 (Jefferson Dahl and Joe Faust assisted). With 1:22 left in the game, Coach Daniel Tetrault pulled Frey from his net to give his squad an extra-attacker advantage, which turned into a two-man advantage after Will Merchant was guilty of a delay of game penalty. Despite the extra help with the power play, Desrosiers and the Steelheads shut the door, and hung on for the 3-2 win.
Christian Frey stopped 26 of 28 shots on net, suffering the defeat (0-6-0).
Both teams will rematch for a final time on Saturday night, December 23rd, at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. MST. It’s “Ugly Christmas Sweater Night”, with the Rush wearing specialty “ugly Christmas sweater” jerseys, sponsored by Diamond Roofing that will be auctioned off after the game. There will also be an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest during the evening.