(WICHITA, KS) – Beau Starrett broke a 3-3 deadlock in the second period on the power play, which served as the eventual game-winner for the Wichita Thunder, who defeated the Rapid City Rush by a 5-3 score on Friday night. The loss, now six in a row for the Rush, knocks them down to a .508 win percentage, further placing them out of the fourth and final playoff spot with 11 games to go.
Both teams traded blows in the first period, including three within the last two minutes of the frame, and went to the locker room deadlocked. Brayden Watts started the scoring entries at 4:26 of the first when the Rush couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone. Kept in at the blue line, Spencer Dorowicz deferred to Watts on a close-range two-on-one, with Watts burying a shot past Rush net-minder Adam Carlson to give the Thunder at 1-0 lead (Dorowicz had the lone assist). Within the last two minutes, fireworks went off. With 1:48 left in the first, Avery Peterson poked the puck to Cedric Montminy in neutral ice, with the latter going on a two-on-one in the Thunder zone. Montminy elected to shoot, and rifled a shot over the shoulder of Thunder goalie Evan Buitenhuis to square the game at 1-1 (Peterson had the lone assist). Exactly 48 seconds later on the first Rush power play, Hunter Garlent threaded a shot that broke through Buitenhuis and in, giving the Rush their only lead of the game at 2-1 with exactly 1:00 remaining in the first (David and Peter Quenneville assisted). However, Wichita got the last word in the final seconds of the first. With 15.6 seconds left, Carlson was screened in his crease and didn’t see Matteo Gennaro fire a cross-ice pass to Cam Clarke coming off the blue line. Clarke threw a no-doubter into the open cage and tied the game at 2-2 (Gennaro and Peter Crinella assisted). Following the end of the first, Carlson was replaced in the Rush net by Dave Tendeck, who managed the Rush goal for the remainder of regulation.
Both teams again exchanged goals, until the Thunder controversially pulled ahead in the final minutes of the second. Matte Gennaro gave the Thunder the lead back at 6:23 of the second, firing a turnaround shot from the slot that beat Tendeck between his legs, pushing the Thunder to a 3-2 advantage (Crinella and Ryan White assisted). Once again, the Rush answered 2:07 later to re-establish the deadlock. At 8:30, Brandon Magee stickhandled to the side of the net and drew a defender to him. That left the slot area wide open for Hunter Garlent, who buried a feed from Magee to square the game at 3-3 (Magee and Tyler Coulter assisted). With 3:54 left in the game, Wichita got its eventual go-ahead goal, but it came awkwardly. As the Thunder entered the Rush third on the power play, it appeared Beau Starrett was very much offside, but no stoppage was made. Despite this, Starrett ended up potting a net-front rebound to vault the Thunder to a 4-3 advantage (Stefan Fournier and Cam Clarke assisted). While not reviewable, the officials conferenced, but the call on the ice stood. Despite numerous chances from the Rush in the final frame, the Thunder iced the game with an empty-netter from Jay Dickman with 1:00 remaining in the game, sealing a 5-3 win over the Rush.
Adam Carlson started the first 20 minutes of the game and stopped 9 of 11 shots on goal. Dave Tendeck relieved Carlson for 39:53 and suffered the loss, stopping 17 of 19 Wichita shots (8-11-0-0).
The Rush continue their seven-game road trip with a rematch against the Wichita Thunder. Puck drop tomorrow on Saturday, May 13th is slated for 6:05 p.m. MDT, while Sunday’s matinee finale is slated for 3:05 p.m. MDT on the 14th at INTRUST Bank Arena.