(FORT WAYNE, IN) – Riley Weselowski brought his team within striking distance with 92 seconds left in regulation, but the Fort Wayne Komets held off a Rapid City Rush late to hang on for a 6-4 win on Friday night. The game marks the end of a 6-game-in-10-night-in-5-city road trip for the Rush, which concluded with a 2-4-0-0 record.
Fort Wayne wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard first in their only matchup against the Rush. Just 15 seconds into the game, Justin Hodgman found Marc-Olivier Roy in the high slot from the far corner of the Rush zone. Roy unloaded a one-timer past Rush net-minder Adam Vay to give the Komets a 1-0 lead (Hodgman had the lone assist). The Rush countered right back when Pavel Jenys rimmed the puck up the far wall of the attacking zone. Matt Caito came off of the blue line and threw it on net, and the puck squeaked by Komets goalie Garrett Bartus to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:48 gone by in the first (Jenys and Ian Brady assisted). The Komets got the last word of the period, taking advantage of a turnover in front of the Rush net. With 2:10 left in the period, Shawn Szydlowski knifed the puck to Mason Baptista in the slot area, to which Baptista rifled a puck over Vay’s shoulder to give the Komets a 2-1 lead (Szydlowski had the only assist).
Fort Wayne doubled their advantage on a three-on-one break into the Rush zone. Szydlowski quarterbacked the counterstrike and connected with a trailing Ryan Lowney, who finished with a snipe by Vay to bring their lead to 3-1 with 5:56 played in the second (Szydlowski and Marc-Olivier Roy assisted). Tyler Deresky brought the Rush back within one at the end of the second, to maintain the deficit after two periods. With 61 seconds left, Deresky took a dump into the far corner and skated with an assailant on his back to the high slot of the attacking third. Deresky slipped a shot through the five-hole of Bartus to cut Fort Wayne’s lead to 3-2 after two periods (Saituro and Brady assisted).
Fort Wayne struck twice in the opening minutes of the third to build a 5-2 lead late in the game. With 1:33 gone by, Cody Sol took a Mason Baptista pass on the blue line and unloaded a bomb past Vay to give the Komets a 4-2 lead (Baptista and Garrett Thompson assisted). Shawn Szylowski finished a nifty passing play from Baptista and Roy with a high slot rocket by Vay moments later to make it 5-2 Komets with 3:42 gone by in the third (Roy and Baptista assisted). The Rush then mounted their comeback, started by former Komet Kenton Miller. With 13:50 left in the game, Miller finished a give-and-go deep with Pavel Jenys towards the net, and buried his centering pass to make it a 5-3 game (Jenys and Caito assisted). Rush Captain Riley Weselowski then made things interesting when he crashed off the blue line into a scrum and dumped a loose puck behind Bartus with 1:33 left in the game to make it a 5-4 contest (Peter Sivak and Daniel Leavens assisted). Despite the rally, the Rush couldn’t get the offensive zone drive they wanted with the extra-attacker, and Cody Sol flipped the puck into an open net with 6.7 seconds remaining to give Fort Wayne the eventual 6-4 win.
Adam Vay, in his sixth consecutive start, stopped 25 of 30 in the loss (9-12-1).
The Rush now head back home for a three-game series against the Utah Grizzlies, starting Wednesday morning with the first day-time home game in Rapid City Rush history on February 7th. Puck drop at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is slated for 10:30 a.m. MST.