(RAPID CITY, SD) – The Rapid City Rush came out guns blazing right off the opening drop, but the Tulsa Oilers slowly but surely separated themselves from the Rush, and thanks to a three-point night from Ryan Tesink, took a 5-1 win to end the series. The game marked the final meeting between both teams this season, with each team claiming three wins in the six matchups.
Tulsa provided the only goal of the first period, but it came with plenty of offensive chances for the Rush, who brought many needed improvements to their game in the opening 20 minutes. Ryan Tesink registered the only ignition of the goal lamp with 4:52 remaining in the opening period on the power play, rifling a shot from down the near wall over the shoulder of Rush net-minder Adam Carlson to make it 1-0 after one frame (Steve Kaunisto had the lone assist).
At the start of the second period, in an odd twist, Rush Head Coach Daniel Tetrault was ejected, and Assistant Coach Nello Ferrara commanded the bench for the remainder of the game. Charlie Sampair doubled Tulsa’s advantage in another one-goal period in the second period. Just 2:33 in, the Rush defense tried to contain the offensive zone, but it caromed by the defense and all the way into the Rush zone. Sampair caught up to the puck, and from the near circle zipped a shot that squeaked by Carlson to make it a 2-0 Oilers lead (the goal was unassisted).
Tulsa struck twice in quick fashion to separate further from the Rush as the game ended. Just 31 seconds into the third, Adam Pleskach was left wide open in the slot area, and buried a Tesink east-west pass for a one-timer by Carlson to extend the lead to 3-0 (Tesink had the lone assist). Exactly 2:12 later, Tesink was left open on the far side of the ice and entered the Rush zone all alone, finishing for his second tally of the night with a laser over Carlson’s shoulder to make it a 4-0 Oilers advantage (Pleskach and Ian McNulty assisted). Trying to provide a spark, Coach Ferrara pulled Carlson for an extra-attacker with less than seven minutes left, and after a shot that was stopped by traffic, Kyle Rhodes flung the puck into the empty net, capping off Oilers scoring with a 5-0 lead with 6:29 left in the game (the goal was unassisted). Michael Turner ended the Oilers shutout on the final power play of the game for the Rush, extending the team’s streak of games with a goal on the man-advantage to six contests. With 4:42 left in the game, Chris Leibinger took a bump from Darby Llewellyn behind the net, and found Turner in the low slot with an east-west pass. Turner buried it behind Devin Williams to bring the game to its final score of 5-1 (Leibinger and Llewellyn assisted).
Adam Carlson, making his first start since January 4th at Kansas City, suffered the loss (10-9-2-2).
The Rush continue their home stand next Wednesday, January 16th, hosting the Florida Everblades for the first time ever in team history. Puck drop for the historic first matchup is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.