(BOISE, ID) – Riley Weselowski and Michael Turner, the latter scoring shorthanded, gave the Rapid City Rush a second-period lead that was thwarted by two second-period power play goals, giving the Idaho Steelheads a split of the first two games in this week’s series with a 3-2 regulation win. The loss snapped a four-game road winning streak for the Rush.
Idaho struck first for a second straight night, and once again carried a lead into the intermission. However, the lead came with controversy as Andrew Radjenovic was denied a goal 100 seconds into the matchup. Originally credited with a goal by the head referee, video replay changed the decision, and what would have been a 1-0 Rush lead was reset back to 0-0. Idaho’s lone goal of the period came with 10:05 played in the game, Steve McParland added to his team-leading goal-scoring total with a shot zipped from the far wall that whizzed by a screened Michael Bitzer in the Rush net, giving the Steelheads a 1-0 lead (Jeff King and A.J. White assisted). Michael Turner also had a shorthanded goal denied by video replay to keep it a 1-0 Steelheads lead after 20 minutes.
The Rush battled back to take the lead in the second period, but the Steelheads eventually overcame the Rush. On a delayed penalty just 3:27 into the second, Andrew Radjenovic found Riley Weselowski crashing in from the blue line, threaded it back-door from the corner, and Weselowski buried it behind Steelheads goalie Tomas Sholl to square the game up at 1-1 (Radjenovic had the lone assist). Turner got onto the scoresheet with a goal that wouldn’t be denied by any replay, giving the Rush the lead on the team’s second shorthanded tally in as many games. With 8:40 played in the period, Pierre-Luc Mercier fought in the Steelheads zone for the puck and rifled it to the slot, where Turner slid it by Sholl to give the Rush a 2-1 advantage with his first goal of the season (Mercier had the lone assist). On the same power play, however, Idaho tied it 1:07 later. With 9:47 played in the period, Elgin Pearce entered the Rush zone and rifled a shot that was stopped by Bitzer, but the rebound came to White, who slammed it home to tie the game at 2-2 (Pearce had the lone assist). Colton Saucerman scored on a power play in the final seconds of the second period for his first goal since joining the Steelheads to give the team back the lead, and eventually the win. With 42 seconds and change remaining in the frame, a bunch up by the Rush penalty killers on the near wall led to an Eric Sweetman pass to Saucerman, who came down, nearly uncontested, and backhanded a shot by Bitzer to make it a 3-2 lead after two periods (Sweetman and White assisted). The Rush were unable to muster a game-tying goal, despite three third period power plays and the extra-attacker, and dropped the second game of the series, forcing a rubber match tomorrow night.
Michael Bitzer stopped 26 of 28 shots on net, suffering the loss against his former team (3-2-0-1).
The Rush continue their stretch of six consecutive matchups against the Idaho Steelheads, with game three coming at CenturyLink Arena tomorrow night. Puck drop for the rubber match is slated for 7:10 p.m. MST on November 17th. After tomorrow’s game, both teams will transition to play in Rapid City on Wednesday, November 21st, Friday, November 23rd, and Saturday, November 24th.