(WICHITA, KS) – Peter Quenneville and Cedric Montminy pulled the Rapid City Rush within two early in the third period, but despite outshooting their opposition 41-30, an early 4-0 lead built by the Wichita Thunder’s Beau Starrett and Stefan Fournier proved to be enough of a buffer to earn a 5-2 win over the Rush on Sunday afternoon. Wichita wins the rubber match and series with back-to-back wins, while the Rush drop to 1-2-0-0 through three of their six games on the “Stock Show Road Trip”.
Wichita roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first period of the action. Beau Starrett scored twice in 15 seconds: once on a rebound of a Cam Clarke shot past Rush net-minder Taran Kozun at 12:45 (Clarke and Peter Crinella assisted), and on a d-zone breakdown in the Rush zone that led to a Chantz Petruic pass in front of the Rush net for a deflection at 13:00 (Petruic and Bobby McMann assisted). Following the quick 2-0 lead, Stefan Fournier deflected a shot right as Wichita’s first power play of the game was about to expire, vaulting Wichita to a 3-0 lead with 4:35 left in the first (Gordie Green and Anthony Beauregard assisted).
Fournier kept things rolling for Wichita in the second period, adding another tally in the opening minutes of the frame. With 5:14 gone by, a pass from behind the Thunder net was rimmed down the far wall and all the way to Fournier, wide open at the Rush blue line. He stayed onside, and with a half-wind up rifled a slap shot by Kozun to extend Wichita’s lead to 4-0 (Noel Hoefenmayer and Hayden Lavigne assisted). Despite the early lead, the Rush had time to come back, and Peter Quenneville was the one to chip into the deficit. With 4:33 left in the second, Avery Peterson led a break into the Thunder zone, and found his shot denied by Hayden Lavigne in the Thunder crease. Quenneville picked up the rebound for his 99th career professional goal to get the Rush on the board, trailing 4-1 (Peterson and Andrew Sturtz assisted). By the end of the second period, Lavigne stopped 27 of 28 shots for Wichita, and 17 of 18 in the middle act.
Cedric Montminy helped bring the Rush closer in the early moments of the third period with his team-leading seventh tally of the year. Just 109 seconds into the frame, Montminy picked up a loose puck, skated a half lap around the Thunder zone, and backhanded a shot through traffic past Lavigne to cut the Thunder lead to 4-2 (the goal was unassisted). Despite another 13 shots on the Thunder net, and a power play and extra-attacker for a six-on-four advantage late, Wichita stood their ground and received an empty-net goal from Bobby McMann to seal the game at 5-2.
Taran Kozun, making his Rapid City Rush debut, suffered the loss with 25 saves on 29 shots (0-1-0-0 with the Rush, 1-1-1-0 overall).
The Rush continue their annual “Stock Show Road Trip”, which takes them through three cities for six games over the next nights. The next stop on the trip is Independence, Missouri for a Tuesday night showdown against the Kansas City Mavericks, their first head-to-head meeting of the season. Puck drop on February 2nd is slated for 6:05 p.m. MDT at Cable Dahmer Arena.