(WICHITA, KS) – Anthony Beauregard scored twice and added an assist, but Wichita Thunder goalie Evan Weninger stole the show by stopping all but one Rapid City Rush shot, lifting the home side to a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon. The Thunder win prevents them from being swept by the Rush, who took the first two games of the set. The four-game series finale is slated for Tuesday night.
For a third consecutive game, Wichita scored the first goal of the contest. With 8:57 gone by in the contest, a loose puck bounced off of a skater and to Anthony Beauregard, who encroached into the Rush zone on a two-on-one break. Instead of deferring to his teammate, Beauregard elected to go one-on-one against Rush net-minder Adam Carlson and fired a shot past him to give the Thunder an early 1-0 lead (the goal was unassisted). After 20 minutes of play, Evan Weninger stopped all 12 Rush shots in Wichita’s net.
Beauregard doubled the Thunder lead on their third power play of the game in the second period. After Weninger made a stellar save on a Rush shorthanded opportunity, he kicked the puck to Stefan Fournier, who led a three-on-two charge down the ice. Fournier handed off to Beauregard, who cranked a full windup slap shot past Carlson to extend the advantage to 2-0 at 8:54 of the second period (Fournier and Weninger assisted). Weninger stopped all 20 Rush shots in the second period, a new season-high offensively for the Rush.
Both traded power play goals in the final period, but Weninger, despite losing his shutout, held on for the win in the end. Wichita tripled their lead on their final power play of the game when a Beauregard shot produced a rebound that came to Dean Stewart. Stewart rifled the shot past Carlson to vault the Thunder to a 3-0 lead with 4:46 left in the game (Beauregard and Patrik Parkkonen assisted). On the final Rush power play of the game, Andrew Sturtz elimated Weninger’s shutout and extended his personal point streak to six games, cutting the deficit to 3-1 with 2:28 left in regulation (Kevin Spinozzi and Mike Hedden assisted). Weninger withstood the final onslaught from the Rush, and stopped 50 of 51 shots over 60 minutes, claiming a 3-1 Thunder win, preventing a potential sweep through three of the four games on tap in this series.
Adam Carlson suffered his first regulation loss since January 2nd against Utah, stopping 23 of 26 shots in the defeat (5-5-1-0). That ends a personal streak of five consecutive starts with at least a point earned for the Rush.
The Rush conclude their seven-game road trip and four game-in five-day series against the Wichita Thunder on Tuesday night, March 2nd. The final game of the series is slated for a 6:05 p.m. MDT puck drop from Wichita at INTRUST Bank Arena.