(RAPID CITY, SD) – Dylan Quaile completed a two-goal comeback with the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation to force “free hockey”, which culminated with Andrew Radjenovic’s shootout winner to lead the Rapid City Rush to a 4-3 win against the Wichita Thunder on Friday night. The win marked not only the first head-to-head victory for the Rush over the Thunder, but also the first career ECHL win of Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, who stopped 29 of 32 shots, and all three shooters in the shootout round.
Both teams traded goals in the first, but Wichita took a lead into the first intermission. Just 90 seconds into the action, Mark MacMillan got the Thunder on the board with a shot from the high slot that beat Rush net-minder Tyler Parks under his glove, making it an early 1-0 game in Wichita’s favor (Tyler Elbrecht and Cam Reid assisted). The Thunder doubled their lead at the midway point of the period. With 9:46 left in the first, the Thunder went up the ice on a rush, led by MacMillan and Reid. MacMillan threw the puck on net, and it deflected off of Cam Reid and squeaked by Parks to make it a 2-0 Thunder lead (MacMillan and Eric Roy assisted). The Rush cut the deficit within the last minute of the game, thanks to Cedric Montminy’s sixth goal of the season. With 54 seconds remaining, Chris Leibinger found the puck behind the Thunder net, and delivered an east-west pass to Montminy, who rifled his shot off the cross bar and in behind Thunder goalie Stuart Skinner to halve the deficit to 2-1 heading into the intermission (Leibinger and Alec Baer assisted).
Wichita extended their lead when Steven Iacobellis notched his 10th goal of the season. With 6:01 left in the second, Iacobellis fired a shot from the far faceoff circle that went off of something in front of the net and trickled by Parks to give the Thunder a 3-1 lead after two periods (Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin assisted).
The Rush didn’t quit, and tapped into their resiliency that has been a mainstay of the early stages of the season. Tyler Poulsen started the comeback with under 10 minutes left in the game to bring the Rush within striking distance. With 8:18 remaining in the game, Poulsen entered the Rush attacking zone and dropped back the puck to Andrew Radjenovic, who returned the favor and found Poulsen towards the slot. Poulsen waited, and tucked the puck behind Skinner to cut the Thunder lead to 3-2 (Radjenovic had the lone assist). Pulling Parks in favor of the extra-attacker, the Rush went six-on-five and buried the tying goal in the final minute. With 58 seconds left, Shaquille Merasty won an offensive zone draw to Josh Elmes, who fired a wrist shot that got deflected in the slot. The rebound came to Dylan Quaile off the back-end, who tapped the puck in an open backdoor by Skinner to level the game at 3-3, forcing overtime (Merasty and Poulsen assisted).
Neither team found the winner in overtime, but the Thunder had the best opportunity to do so on the power play in the final minute of the extra session. Parks and company stood tall, forcing a shootout. Only one goal was supplied, and that was from the Rush’s Andrew Radjenovic in the top of the second round, beating Skinner with a backhand over his glove. Tyler Parks stoned all three shooters, earning his first career ECHL win, 4-3 in the shootout over the Thunder.
Tyler Parks, in regulation and overtime, stopped 29 of 32 shots, and denied all three shooters in the shootout for his first career ECHL win (1-3-0-0).
The Rush conclude their pair of matchups coming before the Christmas holiday against the Wichita Thunder tomorrow night, with puck drop for December 22nd slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.