(INDEPENDENCE, MO) – Shaquille Merasty had a hand in all four second period goals, scoring one and assisting the others, and Tab Lardner scored his first goal since March 26, 2011 in coming out of retirement, but the Rapid City Rush fell to the Kanas City Mavericks by a 6-4 score on Friday night in a back-and-forth affair. The game marks the first of 2019 for the Rush, as well as their “midpoint”, with now 36 of 72 games played.
Kansas City opened the scoring and carried a two-goal lead into the locker room. With 6:16 gone by in the contest, Jordan Ernst was wide-open and all alone on the Rush blue line. He came in on a breakaway and finished with a backhand in close range of Rush net-minder Adam Carlson to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead (Zach Fischer and Loren Ulett assisted). Kansas City made it 2-0 when the Mavericks, despite the best efforts of the Rush defense, kept the puck in the zone and hammered away offensively. Dylan Quaile blocked a Mark Cooper shot in close range, but eventually, Cooper worked the puck to Darian Dziurzynski in the far circle of the zone, with the latter finishing a one-timer by Carlson at 10:41 (Cooper and Riley Sweeney assisted).
Tab Lardner, who hadn’t played a regular season game since March 26, 2011, got things started offensively for the Rush, who dropped four on the Mavericks in the second period. Just 1:23 into the frame, Lardner scored off of a loose puck on an offensive zone draw and buried it by Mavericks goalie Max Milosek to put the Rush on the board, trailing 2-1 (Darby Llewellyn and Shaquille Merasty assisted). Just 3:12 later, off of another Merasty offensive zone faceoff win, Brandon Fehd fired a blue line shot that was deflected by Matt Harrington into the Mavericks net, squaring the game at 2-2 with 4:35 gone by in the second (Fehd and Merasty assisted). On the final Mavericks power play of the night, Mark Cooper re-established the Mavericks lead when he fired the puck by Carlson while he was screened, making it a 3-2 game with 11:00 left in the period (Darian Dziurzynski and Greg Betzold assisted). Reciprocating the back-and-forth nature of the game, Dylan Quaile re-drew the game level on a power play goal of his own, taking a Chris Lebinger pass with a shot down the pipe off the blue line that squared the game at 3-3 with 8:19 left in the second (Lebinger and Merasty assisted). Riley Weselowski then capped off the scoring outburst for the Rush on another Merasty faceoff win, firing the puck through traffic with a Merasty deflection by Milosek to give the Rush their only lead at 4-3 with 3:22 left in the frame (Weselowski had the lone assist).
Kansas City battled back into the game to eventually overtake the Rush in the third period. Joey Sides started off the third period following the last Rush power play of the game with a self chip to the slot, finishing with a shot by Carlson to square the game at 4-4 just 2:30 into the period (Ulett had the only assist). After a Mavericks goal was waved off past the midway point of the third, Rocco Carzo broke the deadlock after a Willie Raskob shot was deflected, pocketing the eventual game-winner with 6:23 left in the game to make it a 5-4 Mavericks lead (David Dziurzynski and Raskob assisted). Zach Fischer capped off the scoring in the contest, burying a Mike Panowyk rebound from the near circle to bring the game to its final of 6-4 with 2:36 remaining in the contest (Panowyk and Nate Widman had the assists).Adam Carlson stopped 22 of 28 shots, suffering the loss in the effort (10-8-2-2).
Both teams will rematch tomorrow night, January 5th, with puck drop at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena slated for 6:05 p.m. MST.