(RAPID CITY, SD) – Trey Phillips, Giovanni Fiore, and Cedric Montminy scored three unanswered goals in the second period to give the Rapid City Rush a lead heading into the third, but the Wichita Thunder struck twice on the power play in the final 20 minutes to edge out the Rush 4-3 on Saturday night.
Wichita struck first in the contest, providing the only goal of the first period. Just 2:54 into the action, Brendan Smith fired a shot from the far wall that was initially stopped by Erik Källgren, making his ECHL debut in net for the Rush. The rebound off of Källgren was picked up by Stefan Fournier, who slipped the rebound in to put Wichita up 1-0 early (Smith and Joe Widmar assisted).
2019 ECHL All-Star Steven Iacobellis doubled the Thunder lead in the early stages of the second, but it didn’t come without uncertainty. In the midst of four-on-four hockey, Luke Shiplo ripped a fluttering shot that deflected off of Iacobellis and behind Källgren. The officials congregated and implemented the ECHL’s new goal review, and following the review, the call stood on the ice, giving Wichita a 2-0 lead at 4:57 of the second (Shiplo and Garrett Schmitz assisted). Immediately following Iacobellis’ goal, the Rush jumped onto the board and fired off three unanswered tallies to take the lead into the final period. Exactly 33 seconds following the Thunder strike, defensemen Myles McGurty and Trey Phillips worked up the ice in a two-on-one rush. McGurty fired a pass back-door to Phillips, who executed a textbook deflection past Wichita goalie Mitch Gillam to get the Rush on the board, trailing 2-1 (McGurty had the lone assist). With just over five minutes to go, Giovanni Fiore won an offensive zone draw to Peter Quenneville, who worked a set faceoff play to perfection behind the net. Quenneville centered to Fiore, who tucked it behind Gillam to square the game at 2-2 with 5:10 left in the second (Quenneville had the lone assist). Cedric Montminy finished up the scoring rally on the final Rush power play of the game, deflecting a Jalen Smereck shot past Gillam to put the Rush on top by a 3-2 score with 98 seconds remaining in the second (Smereck and Ryker Killins assisted).
At 3:34 of the final period, two concurrent penalties were called on the Rush. Tyler Poulsen was guilty of a tripping minor, while the bench was assessed a delay of game minor, putting Wichita on a full two-minute five-on-three power play. It shifted the game in Thunder favor, as 37 seconds apart, Chris Crane and Stefan Fournier vaulted the Thunder over the Rush. At 4:47, Crane was wide-open on a back-door pass, squaring the game at 3-3 (Iacobellis and Schmitz assisted). Fournier followed up with his second of the game, tucking the puck on a rebound past Källgren to give the Thunder a 4-3 advantage (Jordan Sims and Joe Widmar assisted). Despite the best efforts of the Rush, including a late rally with the goaltender pulled, Gillam and the Thunder held on, winning 4-3 in regulation.
Erik Källgren made his ECHL debut for the Rush, stopping 33 of 37 shots in the defeat (0-1-0-0).
The Rush conclude the first portion of their 10-day road trip tomorrow against the defending Mountain Division champion Tulsa Oilers. Puck drop at the BOK Center is slated for 3:05 p.m. MDT.
The Rush are back in action tomorrow night against the Wichita Thunder at INTRUST Bank Arena. Puck drop for the Mountain Division showdown is slated for 6:05 p.m. MDT.
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