(RAPID CITY, SD) – Keeghan Howdeshell and Peter Quenneville potted two goals, with the latter providing the overtime winner to lead the Rapid City Rush to a 5-4 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Friday night. The win sets a new franchise record for the Rush at nine wins in a row on home ice and puts the them into a three-way tie for first place in the ECHL once again.
Both teams skated to a scoreless deadlock after 20 minutes of play, but the teams exploded in the final two periods plus overtime to total 9 ignitions of the goal lamp. Tyler Coulter, the reigning Howies Hockey Tape ECHL Rookie of the Month, got things started for the Rush. With 7:54 gone by in the second period, Keeghan Howdeshell drew a delayed penalty, but stuck with the puck and maneuvered towards the net. Howdeshell found Coulter wide open for a one-timer past Grizzlies goaltender Mason McDonald, giving the Rush a 1-0 lead (Howdeshell and Ryker Killins assisted). Tim McGauley quickly countered twice for the Grizzlies to put them on top after two frames. McGauley’s first goal came at 12:29 and was the result of a hard-working shift in which the Grizzlies kept the Rush pinned in their own zone. The puck was worked around the Rush zone and came to the slot area, where McGauley shoveled the puck by Rush net-minder Tyler Parks to square the game at 1-1 (Griffen Molino and Taylor Richart assisted). McGauley’s second goal came with 89 seconds left in the period following the second Grizzlies penalty-kill of the game. Ty Lewis came out of Utah’s box and got behind the Rush defense, creating a two-on-one with McGauley. Lewis shot the puck on Parks, but the rebound kicked to McGauley, who tucked it to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead after two (Lewis and Connor Yau assisted). At the end of the period, the Rush’s second-leading scorer, Giovanni Fiore, was ejected for abuse of officials, leaving the Rush without one of the top scorers in the league for the last 20 minutes.
Despite losing Fiore, the Rush soldiered on, and Captain Peter Quenneville drew the game level again. On the team’s third power play of the game with 2:44 gone by in the final period, Quenneville took a pass from Myles McGurty on the blue line and launched a rocket that zipped past McDonald, squaring the game at 2-2 (McGurty and Stephane Legault assisted). Keeghan Howdeshell kept his stellar night up with a go-ahead goal exactly 2:01 later to give the lead back to the Rush. At 4:45, Howdeshell, from the far wall in the offensive zone, threw the puck towards the slot and watched it bounce off of two defenders and past McDonald, pushing the Rush to a 3-2 lead (Ryker Killins and Brennan Saulnier assisted). McGauley, however, tied it up another 2:01 later, completing his hat trick. Similar to his first goal, McGauley took advantage of a scrambling Rush defensive zone, and poked a loose puck by Parks to square the game at 3-3 with 13:14 left in the game (Taylor Richart and Sasha Larocque assisted). Utah took back the lead 3:01 later in four-on-four hockey, when Richart found himself open for a cannon of a slapshot from the near circle that beat Parks, pushing Utah to a 4-3 lead with 10:13 left in the contest (Ty Lewis and Kevin Davis assisted). Undeterred, Keeghan Howdeshell struck for a second time, this time on the power play, and provided the final goal of regulation. With 6:15 left in the game, Howdeshell unleashed a laser of a shot from the far wall that squared the game up at 4-4 (Trey Phillips and Brennan Saulnier assisted).
It only took 40 seconds of overtime, but the Captain completed the comeback and helped the Rush attain franchise history. Entering the Grizzlies zone in overtime, Quenneville dropped the puck to an oncoming Stephane Legault, who gave it right back to Quenneville streaking towards the net. Quenneville shoveled the puck by an outstretched McDonald to give the Rush a 5-4 win, their ninth in a row on home ice.
Tyler Parks stopped 27 of 31 shots on net, earning the win in overtime for his eighth of the season (8-1-3-0). With the win, the Rush set a new franchise record with nine wins in a row on home ice, and remain the last undefeated team at home this season in the ECHL.
The Rush conclude this weekend series with a rematch against the Grizzlies tomorrow night, December 7th. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Tomorrow, the Rush will combine their annual “Hockey N Hope” Cancer Awareness Night with their annual “Teddy Bear Toss”. As in previous seasons, the Rush will wear lavender colored jerseys presented by Dakota Barricade, recognizing all forms of cancer, and will honor those survivors and those fighting this disease. The jerseys will be auctioned off following the conclusion of the contest, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Regional Health Foundation. Throughout the game, we'll raise money for the Regional Health Foundation. Great Clips will also be shaving heads at the game along with a suggested donation to the Regional Health Foundation. All that attend are encouraged to bring a new teddy bear to the game, and throw them onto the ice when the Rush score their first goal of the contest. Bears will be donated to Youth and Family Services.