(BOISE, ID) – For a second consecutive matchup, the Rapid City Rush found themselves trailing the Idaho Steelheads 2-0 in the third period, and despite Pierre-Luc Mercier’s tally in the final period, they couldn’t complete the late magic, falling 2-1 in regulation to Idaho despite a late rally. With the regulation loss, and a Kansas City overtime loss to Utah, the Rush deficit for the final playoff spot is back to 4 points with 19 games remaining.
Both teams skated to a scoreless deadlock after 20 minutes of play, but the Steelheads still started with the lead within the first minute of the second period. With just 36 seconds gone by, Kale Kessy kept the puck in the Rush zone and found Henrik Samuelsson right in front of the Rush net. Samuelsson’s initial shot was denied by Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, but his second attempt squeaked by him to give the Steelheads a 1-0 lead for a second game in a row (Kessy had the lone assist). The Rush had numerous chances to tie things up, especially on the power play, but Tomas Sholl was stalwart in Idaho’s net.
Idaho added to their lead following a feverish exchange in which the Rush hammered the Steelheads in their zone for nearly a minute. Following the offensive shift, the puck kicked out to the neutral zone, and Elgin Pearce caught the Rush on a bad line change and caught up to the puck. With 11:43 left in the game, Pearce fired it over Parks’ glove to make it a 2-0 Steelheads lead (the goal was unassisted). Moments later, the “French Connection” on the Rush roster connected to halve the deficit. With 7:30 remaining in the game, Cedric Montminy, practically on the ice in front of the net, managed to leverage the puck to Pierre-Luc Mercier in the slot, who fired it by Sholl to cut the deficit to 2-1 (Montminy had the lone assist). Rush forward Justin Faryna was called for a tripping minor in the final two minutes of the game, eliminating an extra-attacker scenario to spark the Rush comeback. Despite being shorthanded, Chris Leibinger managed to get wide open in the final seconds of the game, but his stick broke, and his shot went wide. Idaho hung on to win 2-1 in regulation.
Tyler Parks came into the game with a streak of 4 consecutive games without a loss in regulation, and saw it come to an end, despite stopping all but two of 32 shots in a spectacular effort (4-6-2-0).
The Rush conclude their three-game series against the Idaho Steelheads tomorrow on Saturda, February 16th. Puck drop is slated for 7:10 p.m. MST at CenturyLink Arena.