(BOISE, ID) – Andrew Radjenovic brought an insanely shorthanded Rapid City Rush squad within one with 6:32 left in regulation, but the Idaho Steelheads pulled away from the Rush late in the game to take a 5-2 win on Saturday night.
For a third consecutive game, the Steelheads opened the game’s scoring entries against the Rush. With 8:05 gone by in the contest, Charlie Dodero sent a high flipping puck from his blue line into the Rush zone. It took a backwards bounce in the Rush zone, and Will Merchant, coming in with a head full of steam, let a shot rip right by Rush net-minder Christian Frey to give the Steelheads a 1-0 lead (Dodero and Aaron Harstad assisted). For the first time since the end of Wednesday’s game, the Rush got themselves on the board to force a tie after one period. With 5:44 left in the first, Peter Sivak took a draw won by Alec Baer to the left-wing side of the attacking zone, and launched a shot by Steelheads goalie Tomas Sholl to square the game at 1-1 heading into the intermission (Baer had the lone assist).
Idaho struck twice in the first five minutes of the second period to take a 3-1 lead into the third frame. Just 99 seconds into the second period, Eric Sweetman skated over all three lines, and fired a wrist shot from the slot by Frey to give the Steelheads a 2-1 lead (Corbin Baldwin had the lone assist). With 5:00 gone by, Cole Ully grabbed a loose puck in front of the bench area and skated into the Rush zone on a partial two-on-one into the Rush zone with Jefferson Dahl crashing the net. Ully elected to shoot from the right wing faceoff circle over Frey’s shoulder to make it a 3-1 game heading into the final period (the goal was unassisted).
At the 8:58 mark of the third period, Andrew Miller carried the puck into the Rush attacking zone and attempted to make a move around his defender. Over three seconds after losing the puck in the shuffle, Charlie Dodero came in late and slammed Miller to the ice, which injured him as a result of the play. After a delay to tend to Miller, Dodero was assessed “five and a ten” for charging, and was ejected from the game. It put the already depleted Rush squad even more shorthanded with 7 forwards and 5 defensemen, but the silver lining was the five-minute major power play that was awarded to the Rush, which the visiting side capitalized on. With 6:32 left in the game, Peter Sivak carried the puck into the near corner of the attacking third, and deferred to a wide-open Andrew Radjenovic in the slot. Radjenovic buried the pass to bring the Rush within one at 3-2 (Sivak had the only assist). The Steelheads eventually pulled away when Steven McParland finished an unselfish passing play with a backdoor tap in with 1:42 left in the game to make it a 4-2 Idaho lead (Brady Brassart and Justin Parizek assisted). Cole Ully, with an empty net and a penalty against the Rush was credited with an empty-net goal to bring the game to its final of 5-2 in the final minute.
Christian Frey stopped 21 of 25 shots in the defeat (3-14-1-2).
The Rush head back home for a pair of games against the Quad City Mallards. The series begins next Friday, March 30th, and features the retirement of Danny Battochio’s #30 in the rafters of Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, becoming the second player in team history to have his number immortalized in team history. There will be a special pregame ceremony to honor the occasion.