(WICHITA, KS) – Keeghan Howdeshell had a hand in all three Rapid City Rush goals with the first 3 assists of his professional career, but it wasn’t enough as Jack Combs scored a power play goal with 13.1 seconds left in regulation to give the Wichita Thunder a 4-3 win on Wednesday night. The loss ends a three-game winning streak for the Rush and dethrones them from a three-way tie for first overall in the ECHL, now held solely by Wichita with a narrow one point lead in the standings.
The Rush came out guns blazing in the first 20 minutes, outshooting Wichita 16-7 in the opening period, and left the frame with a 2-1 lead. Wichita started off the scoring entries on just their second shot of the game, but it came on the first Rush power play of the night. Fabrizio Ricci dislodged the puck from in between Ryker Kilins’ skates on the offensive blue line and went uncontested in the Rush zone. He finished with a five-hole shot that beat Rush net-minder Ivan Prosvetov and gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead with 7:43 gone by in the game (the goal was unassisted). On the same Rush power play, however, the Rush squared things up with the help of Brennan Saulnier. Exactly 1:27 later, Keeghan Howdeshell worked the puck from the near wall up to the blue line to Eric Israel, who finished with a wrister on net. The shot was stopped by Thunder goalie Mitch Gillam, but Saulnier was in the area code and poked the rebound in to tie the game at 1-1 with 10:46 left in the first (Israel and Howdeshell assisted). Later, Dexter Dancs broke the deadlock to push the Rush ahead going into the intermission. With 2:16 left, Howdeshell intercepted a Thunder pass in neutral zone and entered the Thunder third on a three-on-two break. He deferred to an unmarked Dancs, who waltzed down “Broadway” and rifled a shot by Gillam to give the Rush a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes (Howdeshell had the lone assist).
Jack Combs provided the lone ignition of the goal lamp in the second period, bringing the game level for the last 20 minutes of regulation. At 4:16, Gillam came out of the Thunder net and fired a “Hail Mary” to Combs, who was all alone on the Rush blue line. Combs came in uncontested and tucked the puck under Prosvetov’s leg to square the game at 2-2 (Gillam had the lone assist).
Within moments of beginning the third period, Tyler Poulsen put the visiting side back on top, but Wichita quickly countered. Poulsen struck 32 seconds into the frame when he caught a rebound in front of the crease and flung it by Gillam, giving the Rush a 3-2 advantage (Howdeshell and Saulnier assisted). However, 2:19 later, Cameron Hebig drew the game even again on a wrister from the high slot over Prosvetov’s shoulder to tie things up at 3-3 (Jakob Stukel and Ostap Safin assisted). Both teams traded chances back-and-forth, but nothing broke the deadlock until Eric Israel was called for tripping at 17:56, putting the Thunder on the power play for almost the remainder of the game. With 13.1 seconds left, Patrik Parkkonen found Jack Combs on the near wall of the Rush zone with time and space on the last power play of the game. Combs crept into the faceoff circle and fired a shot under Prosvetov’s arm, vaulting the Thunder to an eventual 4-3 regulation win (Parkkonen and Safin assisted).
Ivan Prosvetov suffered his first loss at the ECHL level, stopping 27 of 31 shots on net (1-1-0-0). Keeghan Howdeshell registered a career-high 3-assist and 3-point night, with the assists serving as the first of his professional career.
The Rush continue their road trip with a matchup against the Tulsa Oilers on Friday, November 15th. Puck drop at the BOK Center is slated for 6:05 p.m. MDT. Coinciding with the game is the second watch party of the season, hosted by Buffalo Wild Wings in Baken Park. Come down and cheer on the Rush with front office staff!
Tickets for all remaining home games are on sale now! Visit www.rapidcityrush.com to purchase yours today!
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