(RAPID CITY, SD) – 24 hours ago, Danny Battochio had his #30 immortalized for the remainder of Rapid City Rush history when his number was retired.
24 hours later, “The Batman” stopped all but one of 26 shots wearing his immortalized #30 in 37:04 of relief.
His stellar play vaulted the Rush to an emotional third period comeback, which included a four-point night for Andrew Radjenovic, but the comeback fell short to the Quad City Mallards, who hung on for a 5-4 win on Saturday night, marking the final home game of the 2017-18 ECHL season.
The Rush struck first to start the scoring entries on the sheet, but the Mallards left the first period with a 2-1 lead. Andrew Radjenovic provided the game’s first strike when he notched his seventh goal in his tenth game with the Rush to get his squad on the board. Radjenovic carried the puck up the ice and threaded a pass to Daniel Leavens, who fired the pass on Mallards goaltender Eric Harztell. Hartzell made the stop, but Radjenovic potted the rebound and got the Rush a 1-0 lead with 3:40 gone by in the first (Leavens had the lone assist). Quad City tied the game up on their first power play of the game when Matt Pohlkamp fired a shot from the left wing faceoff circle under the glove of Rush net-minder Christian Frey to square things up at 1-1 with 5:34 gone by in the frame (Willie Raskob and Chris Izmirlian assisted). Tommy Muratore gave the Mallards a 2-1 lead with his first goal as a professional firing a shot from the same spot by Frey with 7:06 left in the first (Connor Reilly assisted).
Quad City came firing out of the gates and scored twice in the first two minutes to build a 4-1 lead. Ryan McGrath fired a full wind up howitzer over Frey’s shoulder 27 seconds into the frame to give the Mallards a 3-1 lead (Jamie Tardif and Willie Raskob assisted). Over a minute and a half later, the puck was turned over inside the Rush blue line, and Nick Bligh shrugged off a defender and fired a shot past Frey to make it 4-1 (Alex Kuqali assisted). Following the goal, Frey was subbed out for Danny Battochio, the Rush goaltending coach who just had his #30 retired in last night’s showdown. Battochio last played in the final period of the 2016-17 ECHL season and turned aside 7 of 7 against the eventual Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles.
Quad City managed to squeak one by him, however, when Chris Izmirlian hit the post in close range and snuck his rebound by Battochio to make it 5-1 heading into the third period with 9:12 left in the second (Alex Globke and Matt Pohlkamp assisted).
Then came the comeback.
Willem Nong-Lambert scored his first goal as a pro when he deflected an Andrew Radjenovic shot from the high slot by Hartzell just 3:01 into the third to make it a 5-2 game (Radjenovic had the lone assist). Just over two minutes later, Daniel Leavens backhanded another Radjenovic rebound over Harztell’s head to cut the Mallards lead to 5-3 with 5:17 gone by in the frame (Radjenovic had the lone assist). Radjenovic maintained his hot pace, and brought the Rush within striking distance with 13:09 left in the game to trim the deficit to 5-4 (Leavens and Adam Marsh assisted). Danny Battochio stopped all 13 shots he saw in the third period to help give the Rush a fighting chance in their comeback attempt, but after pulling him for the extra-attacker, a furious Rush rally fell short and the Mallards hung on for a 5-4 win.
Despite the stellar relief effort, Battochio was unfortunately credited with the loss after stopping 25 of 26 in 37:04 of relief (0-1-0). Christian Frey started the game, and stopped 8 of 12 in 21:55 of work.
The Rush play their final games of the season on the road next week on the road, starting with a rubber match against the Quad City Mallards. Puck drop for the final showdown between the former CHL rivals is slated for 5:35 p.m. MST at the TaxSlayer Center.