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MERASTY’S “GORDIE HOWE HAT-TRICK” FORCES RUBBER MATCH

Saturday, November 10th
MERASTY’S “GORDIE HOWE HAT-TRICK” FORCES RUBBER MATCH

(RAPID CITY, SD) – Shaquille Merasty provided the game-winning goal on the power play, a pair of assists, and a fighting major for a “Gordie Howe Hat-Trick” and 3-points, powering the Rapid City Rush to a 4-2 win on Friday night against the Fort Wayne Komets.  The win ended the Komets three-game win streak, and earned the Rush a split of the first two games in this three-game series.

Fort Wayne started off the scoring entries in this second game in the series, and commanded early with a 2-0 lead.  Just 30 seconds into their first power play of the game, a turnover on the Rush blue line led to an opportunity in close range for the Komets leading scorer, Justin Hodgman.  With 6:44 gone by in the game, Hodgman deked around Rush net-minder Michael Bitzer, and tucked the puck in to give the Komets an early 1-0 lead (Shawn Szydlowski and Marc-Olivier Roy assisted).  Moments later, the Rush were on their first power play of the contest, but a turnover on a breakout in neutral ice provded the Komets with their third shorthanded goal in the last two games against the Rush.  With 9:01 gone by in the first, Binkley intercepted a neutral zone pass and went down uncontested into the Rush zone, finishing with a shot by Bitzer to make it a 2-0 Komets lead (the goal was unassisted).  On the same power play, however, the Rush battled back and got on the board.  Exactly 26 seconds later, Josh Elmes took a pass from Riley Weselowski on the blue line and rifled a shot by Komets goalie Kyle Hayton to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 10:33 left in the first (Weselowski and Adam Marsh assisted).  The Rush drew the game level with 3:54 remaining in the frame when Darby Llewellyn finished a hard-working play with Shaquille Merasty and Michael Turner around the Komets net, squaring the game at 2-2 with his second of the season (Merasty and Turner assisted).

After the Rush weathered the storm on the penalty-kill in the second period, both teams entered the third still deadlocked at 2-2.  Special teams reared its head again in the third period, and it provided the Rush with a game-winning tally.  With 13:13 left in the game, a Josh Elmes blue line shot was deflected by Merasty in the slot by Hayton, giving the Rush a 3-2 lead (Elmes had the lone assist).  Cedric Montminy stuck the dagger into the empty net with 46.4 seconds remaining in the game as Fort Wayne tried to fight for a tying goal, sealing the win for the Rush at 4-2.

Michael Bitzer earned his third win of the season, stopping 16 of 18 shots on goal (3-1-0-1).

Both teams fight in the rubber match tomorrow night on Saturday, November 10th, which serves as our annual “Military Appreciation Night” game.  Puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

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