(WINDSOR, CO) – Daniel Leavens gave the Rapid City Rush a 1-0 lead early in the contest, but Matt Register’s four-point night and a Colorado Eagles power play that went 3/5 helped spark a run of six unanswered goals to give the Eagles a 6-1 win on Sunday afternoon. The game served as the final meeting ever between the bitter rivals with the Eagles advancing to the American Hockey League next season.
For a third straight game, the Rush started off the scoring entries, but left the first period trailing by a pair of tallies. Daniel Leavens started things off 8:55 into the game when he trailed Shaquille Merasty entering the attacking zone. Merasty fired a shot from the far wall of the zone that was initially stopped by Eagles goalie Lukas Hafner, but Leavens followed up on the rebound and slammed it in to put the Rush up 1-0 (Merasty had the lone assist). Colorado then went to their first power play, and with it, began a run of three unanswered goals to end the period, and six overall to end the game. Joey Ratelle kicked things off for the home side on a one-timer following a save by Rush net-minder Christian Frey. The puck caromed off of the goaltender to Ryan Harrison, who zipped it to Ratelle for his shot to square the game at 1-1 with 7:42 left in the first period (Harrison and Chase Norrish assisted). On the next power play just minutes later, Ryan Olsen won a draw to the back-end and then deflected a Jake Marto shot by Frey to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead with 5:59 left in the period (Marto and Matt Register assisted). Register finished the scoring entries with a blue line shot through a sea of bodies right off of the faceoff to make it 3-1 with 4:21 left in the frame (Ben Storm and Nick Miglio assisted).
Colorado’s defense added two tallies in the second to expand the lead to 5-1 heading into the third period. With 7:17 gone by, Jake Marto took the puck through neutral ice and into the Rush zone, cut to the left side, and fired a close range shot on Frey that rolled in to push the Eagles to a 4-1 lead (the goal was unassisted). Register added a second strike on the fourth Eagles power play of the game with another blue line shot to make it 5-1 with 3:08 left in the second (Ryan Olsen and Drayson Bowman assisted).
The final goal of the game came 47 seconds into the third period, finishing the scoring entries for the contest. Ryan Siiro struck for a second straight night when he rotated up to the blue line and fired a shot that deflected off of a Rush defender and in, giving the Eagles a 6-1 advantage (Register and Miglio assisted). Following the goal, Frey was subbed out for Adam Vay in net, with the latter of which turning aside all 13 shots he saw in 19:13 of relief. The final period ever between both teams featured 54 of the game’s 98 combined penalty minutes, including four fights and a near goalie brawl. After the dust settled, the Rush couldn’t muster any more offense and fell in their final game ever against the Eagles by a 6-1 count.
Christian Frey suffered the loss, stopping 16 of 22 shots in 40:47 of work (3-12-2-1). Adam Vay came in relief in the third period and stopped all 13 shots he saw in 19:13 of work.
The Rush head back home for a trio of game against two different Mountain Division rivals, starting with a showdown against the Allen Americans on Wednesday night, March 14th. Puck drop at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.