(WICHITA, KS) – Jeremy Beaudry fired a blue line shot on the power play with 2:07 that gave the Wichita Thunder a late lead, and despite a late 6-on-3 rally for the Rapid City Rush, it was Wichita that escaped with a 2-1 win on Thursday night. The loss allows Wichita to jump the Rush for 5th place in the Mountain Division, and keeps the Rush separated by 8 points behind Kansas City for the final playoff spot with 14 games remaining.
Wichita left the first period with a 1-0 lead, but it certainly didn’t come without fireworks. Just 49 seconds into the action, Pierre-Cedric Labrie jumped on top of Rush forward Zach Fischer in the Thunder zone, and started hammering away at the defenseless Rush forward. Because of the cheap shot and antics, Labrie was assessed a match penalty for an attempt to deliberately injure, and ejected from the contest. It put the Rush on a five minute major power play, but Wichita scored shorthanded in the timeframe to take their lead into the locker room. With 4:50 played in the contest, Rush net-minder Brad Barone had the puck in his trapezoid and took a long time to play the puck. Barone was stripped of the puck from behind by Thunder forward Jakob Stukel, who wrapped around and slammed the puck into the empty net to give Wichita a 1-0 lead (the shorthanded goal was unassisted).
Just over a minute into the second period, Justin Faryna tied the game up for the Rush, and it remained deadlocked heading into the final period of play. With only 69 seconds gone by in the second period, Faryna busted into the Thunder zone and was given free reign towards the net of Thunder goalie Dylan Wells, finishing with a five-hole slip to square the game at 1-1 (Sam Wilbur and Richard Coyne assisted).
Wichita, the #1 power play entering the game, scored the go-ahead goal late on their final power play of the contest. With 2:07 remaining, Jeremy Beaudry blasted a blue line one-timer from Jared Wilson by Barone, catching off of his glove and sliding into the net to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead (Wilson and Jason Salvaggio assisted). Moments after, Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin was called for a tripping minor, followed by Gabriel Verpaelst for an interference minor and unsportsmanlike conduct game misconduct penalty that resulted in the second ejection for the Thunder in the game. With 53.7 seconds left, the Rush, with the extra-attacker on top of all of that, had a 6-on-3 advantage, but couldn’t square the game up, resulting in a 2-1 Thunder win.
Brad Barone, making his second start in as many games for the Rush, fell in the effort, stopping 31 of 33 shots (total 4-5-0-1, 1-1-0-0 with Rush).
The Rush conclude their two-game road trip in Allen on Sunday to take on the Americans for the final time this season. Puck drop for the final time at the Allen Events Center is slated for 2:35 p.m. MST.