(WINDSOR, CO) – Jack Walker broke a scoreless deadlock for the Rapid City Rush shy of the midway point in the third period, but the Colorado Eagles struck back with a power play goal in regulation, and earned the game-winner in overtime from Brady Shaw to defeat the Rush by a 2-1 score in an exciting rivalry showdown on Wednesday night. The overtime loss gives the Rush points in four consecutive contests dating back to December 30th, coincidentally an overtime loss to the Eagles.
Both teams skated to scoreless draws in the first two periods of play. Rush net-minder Christian Frey and Eagles goaltender Joe Cannata were senstational, stopping all 36 combined shots in the first 40 minutes of the contest (Cannata 17 saves, Frey 19). Tyler Deresky thought he gave the Rush a 1-0 lead under six minutes to play in the first period with a shot that appeared to go off of the back bar and in. The goal lamp turned on, but it was determined after a conference during the officials timeout that the goal would be disallowed, setting up an exciting finish with a 0-0 game heading into the final period.
It took 46:17 of hockey, but Jack Walker finally broke the deadlock and put the Rush on the board first. With 13:43 left in the game, Walker took a feed from Dante Salituro behind the Eagles defense, and finished with a backhand shot by Cannata to give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Salituro and Gustav Bouramman assisted). The lead was short-lived, as the Eagles were beneficiaries of two penalty calls in quick succession, awarding them a five-on-three power play for just under 30 seconds. As the two-man advantage transitioned to a standard power play, Jake Marto found the ECHL’s leading goal-scorer, Michael Joly, on the backdoor, and Joly’s point blank shot went off of Frey’s paraphernalia and in, squaring the game up at 1-1 with 7:38 left in the game (Marto and Shawn St-Amant assisted). Neither team could solve the rival net-minders for the remainder of regulation, setting the table for a fourth head-to-head overtime matchup.
Colorado lead the ECHL with 5 overtime wins heading into the contest, and extended that league-leading tally to 6 in the free hockey session. With just 65 seconds before a shootout would be necessary, Brady Shaw fired a Matt Register pass by a screened Frey, giving Colorado the narrow 2-1 victory in the thrilling rivalry showdown.
Christian Frey stopped all but two of 38 shots thrown on his net in the overtime defeat (1-6-1).
The Rush continue their six game road trip against the Colorado Eagles with the second meeting of their three-game set this Friday, January 12th. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at the Budweiser Events Center.