(RAPID CITY, SD) – Peter Sivak and Andrew Radjenovic led a rally to tie the game heading into the third period, but a lucky bounce off of Mark MacMillan’s skate proved to be the game-winner, giving the Wichita Thunder a 3-2 win over the Rapid City Rush on Friday night.
Both team skated to a scoreless deadlock after 20 minutes of play, then exploded for a combined 4 goals in the middle frame, remaining deadlocked heading into the third. Ralph Cuddemi started the scoring entries at 4:44 of the first period, deflecting a Jeremy Beaudry blue line shot by Rush net-minder Adam Vay to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead (Beaudry and Mark MacMillan assisted). On the unluckiest of bounces, Ryan Van Stralen attempted a cross-ice pass in the Rush zone, and it deflected off of the stick of Ian Brady and into the Rush net through the legs of Vay, giving the Thunder a 2-0 lead with 5:42 left in the second (the goal was unassisted). Undeterred, the Rush managed to mount a comeback and square the game up before the end of the second period. With 4:05 left in the second, Peter Sivak rifled a shot from the left wing circle by a screened Nick Riopel in Wichita’s net, cutting the deficit to 2-1 (Jack Walker and Andrew Radjenovic assisted). Radjenovic then followed up his linemate’s tally with his third in the last two games, and with 63 seconds left in the second, fired a shot from the right wing faceoff circle that whizzed by Riopel to square the game at 2-2 (Walker had the lone assist).
Wichita then capitalized on another lucky bounce to eventually take the win. With 6:20 gone by in the third, Ralph Cuddemi broke the Rush blue line and threw the puck to the slot, intended for Mark MacMillan. The puck bounced off of his skate, and through Vay’s legs, and gave Wichita a 3-2 lead (Cuddemi had the lone assist). There was a question on the play of whether or not Cuddemi was offside entering the Rush zone, but after an official’s conference, it was determined that the goal would stand as called. Riopel and the Thunder held off the Rush in the final minutes to take a 3-2 win.
Adam Vay stopped 32 of 35 shots, suffering the loss (12-16-1-1).
The Rush finish their series against the Wichita Thunder this weekend, playing on St. Patrick’s Day with special jerseys to be auctioned off after the game. Puck drop at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.