(RAPID CITY, SD) – Shaquille Merasty scored for a second straight night to put the Rapid City Rush on top first, but a shorthanded Colorado Eagles squad received a power play goal from Ryan Olsen to take a narrow 2-1 win over the Rush in the final game ever between both sides in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The Rush struck first for a second night in a row, but also for a second straight night, both teams left the first 20 minutes deadlocked. Shaquille Merasty got things started for the Rush when he batted a rebound in front of the Eagles net by goaltender Lukas Hafner to give the Rush a 1-0 lead with 4:17 played in the game (Jack Walker and Daniel Leavens). Colorado drew level just moments later when captain Matt Garbowsky drove the net and fired a backhander on Rush net-minder Adam Vay. Vay made the initial save, but Ryan Siiro trailed for the rebound and buried it to square the game at 1-1 with 7:45 played in the first (Garbowsky and Matt Register assisted).
Both teams carried their deadlock into the second, but it would be broken by Colorado’s special teams. On their second power play of the game, the puck was turned over to Garbowsky on the near wall of the Rush zone, and again he motored down the lane towards the net. He deferred to Ryan Olsen, who then fired a shot by Vay to put the Eagles on top 2-1 with 6:20 left in the second (Garbowsky notched the lone assist).
The Rush had a flurry in front of Hafner’s net to try and tie the game in the third, but Hafner denied all three chances point blank in front of his crease. Colorado hung on to take the win 2-1 and take the first two games in the three-game series.
Adam Vay stopped 30 of 32 shots on net in the loss (12-15-1-1).
The Rush conclude their busy week of hockey and their 10-year rivalry with the Colorado Eagles tomorrow afternoon with the Eagles moving to the AHL next season. Puck drop at Budweiser Events Center is slated for 3:05 p.m. MST.