(RAPID CITY, SD) – Jack Walker scored for a third consecutive night as part of a two-point performance, and Shane Owen turned aside all but one of 29 shots as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Idaho Steelheads by a 3-1 score on Saturday night, the team’s first-ever “Ugly Christmas Sweater Night”. The win ends the Rush losing streak at 10 games, which matched a franchise record.
For a second consecutive night, the Rush got on the board first, and also carried a lead into the first intermission. Daniel Leavens carried the puck into the Idaho zone, and waited for reinforcements to arrive in the attacking third. Leavens cross-ice pass bounced off of a defender and into an open area right to Pavel Jenys, streaking off the bench after a Rush line change. Jenys ripped a shot that beat Steelheads goaltender Ryan Faragher to give the Rush a 1-0 lead at 8:06 of the first period (Leavens had the only assist). Under four minutes later, Idaho went to their first power play of the game, and despite the advantage, the Rush capitalized with their first shorthanded goal of the season to take a 2-0 lead. Leavens led another charge down the ice and was accompanied by Jack Walker the whole way. Leavens gained the zone and sent the puck towards the net to Walker, who backhanded a shot and beat Faragher top shelf to double the Rush advantage with the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season (Leavens had the only assist). Idaho cut the deficit in half late in the frame when Joe Faust received a pass from the blue line, and took advantage of some traffic and chaos in front of the Rush net. Faust ripped a shot that whizzed by Rush net-minder Shane Owen to put the Steelheads on the board, bringing the score to 2-1 with 3:35 left in the frame (Cole Ully and Eric Sweetman assisted).
Geoff Fortman re-established the two-goal lead of the Rush over the midway point of the second period, putting the Rush in the driver’s seat to end their skid. With 8:14 left in the second, Fortman found a puck in the slot area off of his blue line and, while tumbling to the ice, rifled a shot by Faragher to extend the Rush lead to 3-1 (Dante Salituro and Jack Walker assisted).
The Rush held on in the final two periods of play, with Owen turning aside all 19 shots he saw in the final pair of frames. At the end of 60 minutes, the Rush celebrated the end of their losing streak at 10 games with a 3-1 victory. Additionally, the Rush held Idaho’s power play off the board for the first time in the series, ending a streak of 11 games in which the team has conceded a power play goal.
Shane Owen notched his first win of the season, and with the Rush, turning aside all but one of 29 shots on goal (1-2-0 w/Rush, 1-4-0 total).
The Rush close out 2017 with a pair of games against the defending Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles. Puck drop for both contests on Friday, December 29th, and Saturday, December 30th, are slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.