(TULSA, OK) – Brennan Saulnier notched two goals, Gage Torrel potted his first as a professional, and Ivan Prosvetov made 37 saves to avoid a late scare as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Tulsa Oilers 5-4 on Friday night. The win snaps a four-game road losing streak for the Rush, gives them sole possession of first place in the Mountain Division, and a share of first place in the entire ECHL with the Reading Royals.
Tulsa struck first to start the scoring entries in the contest, but the Rush countered late in the period to carry a lead into the break. Cam Knight gave Tulsa the first strike with a blue line shot that was deflected by a few bodies in front of the Rush net. The bouncing puck squeaked by Rush net-minder Ivan Prosvetov and pushed Tulsa to a 1-0 lead at 7:04 of the contest (Dakota Joshua and Adam Pleskach assisted). The last six minutes belonged to the Rush, and Tyler Poulsen was the one responsible for starting the rally. With 5:50 left in the first, Keeghan Howdeshell found Poulsen in the slot area with a defender in the vicinity. The defender gave Poulsen time to shoot, and he fired a shot over the glove of Tulsa goalie Olle Eriksson Ek and squared the game at 1-1 (Howdeshell and Giovanni Fiore assisted). Peter Quenneville got the last word of the second period, and with 40 seconds to go, put the Rush on top at the break. Quenneville took a feed from Alex Rauter into the Oilers zone, and with a full windup, fired a rocket by Eriksson Ek to give the Rush a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes (Rauter and Richard Coyne assisted).
Rush special teams was the story of the second period, beginning with Gage Torrel in the opening minutes. On the first Rush power play of the game with just 2:56 gone by in the period, Tyler Coulter threaded a no-look, back-hand pass from behind the net to the slot to an open Torrel, who buried the shot for his first goal as a professional to give the Rush a 3-1 advantage (Coulter and Trey Phillips assisted). Tulsa came back within one a few minutes later, thanks to an effort started off by the ECHL’s leading scorer, J.J. Piccinich. With 6:37 gone by in the second, Piccinich went coast to coast into the Rush zone, and wrapped around on Prosvetov’s net. Prosvetov made the initial stop, but Ian McNulty buried the rebound to bring the Oilers within one at 3-2 (Piccinich and Cam Knight assisted). Back to the power play in the final four minutes of the frame, Brennan Saulnier re-established the two-goal Rush cushion. With 3:47 left, Saulnier tucked home a rebound on a Ryker Killins shot, bringing the Rush lead to 4-2 heading into the last 20 minutes (Killins and Eric Israel assisted).
Brennan Saulnier added another goal with the Oilers net empty with 1:23 left in the game (assisted by Quenneville and Coulter), but that didn’t outright end the game, as the Oilers showed some life in the final seconds. J.J. Piccinich struck twice 22 seconds apart, with his first coming on the power play with 40 seconds left, firing a shot through traffic that slipped past Prosvetov to make it a 5-3 game (Moynihan and Kaunisto assisted). In the ensuing offensive sequence, Eriksson Ek shot to the bench for the extra attacker, and Piccinich fired a slot shot off the cross bar and in, cutting the Rush lead to 5-4 with 18 seconds left (Charlie Sampair and Cam Knight assisted). Following the goal, Tulsa called time out to draw up a last-ditch effort, but the Rush defense held tough and cleared the zone, surviving for a 5-4 win.
Ivan Prosvetov, making his third straight start, stopped 37 of 41shots in the victory, his second of the season (2-1-0-0).
The Rush conclude their three-game-four-night-three-city road trip tomorrow night, November 16th, against the Kansas City Mavericks. Puck drop at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena is slated for 6:05 p.m. MDT.
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