(RAPID CITY, SD) – Zach Malatesta broke a 1-1 deadlock with 2:03 left in regulation to provide the Atlanta Gladiators with a 2-1 win over the Rapid City Rush on Wednesday night. With the loss, the Rush remain 6 points out of the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division with 17 games remaining.
Only one goal came out of the first 20 minutes, and it belonged to the Gladiators. With just 4:31 gone by in the opening frame, Avery Peterson, while falling down behind the goal line, found Nick Bligh in the slot area, who fired a shot by Rush net-minder Tyler Parks to give the Gladiators a 1-0 lead after one period (Peterson and Joseph Widmar assisted).
Only one goal came out of the second 20 minutes, and this one belonged to the Rush to square the game heading into the final period of play. With 1:40 left in the frame, Michael Turner found Justin Faryna all alone in the far faceoff circle from behind the net. Faryna rifled a shot off the bar and in past Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar to square the game at 1-1 heading into the third (Turner and Darby Llewellyn assisted).
It was only fitting with the way the game was played that only one goal came out of the final period, and it was Atlanta that provided it for the regulation win. With 2:03 remaining, Malatesta entered the Rush zone and took a drop pass from Widmar, rifling it by Parks in the high slot to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead (Widmar and Luke Stork). With 91 seconds remaining in the game, Jack Stander was assessed a two-minute minor for delay of game, to put the Rush, with the empty-net, on a 6-on-4 advantage for the remainder of the game. The Rush had chances, but couldn’t convert, and Atlanta weathered the storm with a 2-1 win.
Tyler Parks stopped all but two of 22 shots in the defeat (4-7-2-0).
The Rush rematch Atlanta on Friday, February 22nd, with puck drop at Premier Home Mortgage Ice slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.