(BOISE, ID) – Pierre-Luc Mercier tied the game with a shorthanded goal in the third period and sealed the deal in round two of the shootout to give the Rapid City Rush a 3-2 shootout win over the Idaho Steelheads on Wednesday night. The game marked the first of six in a row against the Steelheads over the next two weeks, and three to be played in Boise this week.
The Steelheads struck twice in the first period, and carried a 2-0 lead with them into the intermission. Scoring first was Spencer Naas, whose goal came following a back-check that originally denied him of a breakaway opportunity. With 12:56 gone by in the game, Naas was denied of a breakaway by Brayden Sherbinin, who caught up to Naas and hacked the puck to the near corner of the Rush zone. The puck, however, was possessed in the middle of the traffic jam by Justin Parizek, who fired the puck over to a wide open Naas in front, who then rifled it by Rush net-minder Adam Carlson to give the Steelheads a 1-0 lead (Parizek had the lone assist). Kyle Schempp then made it 2-0 with 8.7 seconds remaining, taking advantage of a traffic jam in front of Carlson that prevented him from seeing the puck, scoring his second of the year to give the Steelheads a multi-goal lead after 20 minutes (Brad McClure and Nolan Gluchowski assisted).
The Rush provided the only goal of the second period, and halved the deficit heading into the final frame. With 6:46 played in the frame, Pierre-Luc Mercier skated by a coasting Eric Sweetman in neutral ice, and came into the Steelheads zone on a two-on-one. Mercier deferred to Mason McCarty, who slammed a shot by Idaho goalie Colton Point to halve the deficit to 2-1 heading into the final period.
Pierre-Luc Mercier continued his great performance and leveled the game for the Rush in the third period. With 8:24 left in the game, on the third Steelheads power play of the night, Darby Llewellyn took a turnover in front of the benches and found Mercier open entering the Steelheads zone. Mercier unwound a slap shot and fired it past Point to square the game at 2-2 (Llewellyn had the lone assist). 60 minutes, and the ensuing five of overtime wouldn’t be enough to determine a victor, so a shootout was required.
Simply put: Idaho didn’t score on both of their attempts, and the Rush did to seal the win. After Nolan Gluchowski was gloved by Adam Carlson, Mason McCarty five-holed Colton Point to end the first round 1-0 in Rush favor. Brad McClure was blockered by Carlson, setting up Mercier for the insurance goal to end the game, which he provided with a backhand by Point to give the Rush a 3-2 win.
Adam Carlson stopped 41 of 43 shots, and both shooters in the shootout, his first appearance past 65 minutes, earning the win (4-2-1-0).
The Rush continue their stretch of six consecutive matchups against the Idaho Steelheads, with game two coming at CenturyLink Arena on Friday night. Puck drop for the rematch is slated for 7:10 p.m. MST on November 16th.