(WICHITA, Kan.) Logan Nelson had three points and Stephen Baylis scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season but the Rapid City Rush came up short against the Wichita Thunder, 6-4, Saturday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
Wichita struck first in the opening period while operating a power play. Mateo Gennaro took a pass even with the goal line, brought it above and stuffed a shot through David Tendeck to make it 1-0.
The Thunder added to that lead five minutes later as Carter Johnson ripped a wrist shot on Tendeck who blocked it but the rebound caromed to the back post where Jay Dickman was loose. He knocked in the rebound and the score was 2-0.
Rapid City Got on the board later in the first with a power play goal of its own. Tristan Thompson fired a shot from the point that Evan Buitenhuis blocked but Max Coatta buried the rebound top shelf to put the Rush on the board.
In the second, Rapid City tied the game as Derek Perl took a slap shot from the right circle that Nelson deflected past Buitenhuis. The Rush then grabbed the lead when Alec Butcher and Nelson slid the puck back and forth in the attacking zone until Butcher was high sticked as he received a pass. As he fell down to the ice, he was able to nudge the puck into the net to make the score 3-2.
Wichita evened the score later in the second after Rapid City committed a pair of penalties and was forced to a two-man disadvantage. Gennaro fed Dean Stewart at the top of the right circle for a one-timer that he blasted past Tendeck and the game was tied at three.
The Thunder grabbed the lead back early in the second period when Dickman carried the puck below the goal line and slid it in front of the net where Peter Crinella had inside position and was able to sneak it past Tendeck. Wichita added to that lead after it forced a turnover and Brady Fluerent and Logan Fredericks gained the zone on an odd-man rush. Fluerent hit Fredericks on the back post and he jammed the puck through Tendeck’s short side, pushing the lead to 5-3.
Rapid City quickly answered when Chase Harrison’s shot was blocked and deflected off the crossbar before it sat in front of the net. Baylis muscled his way in and swept home the rebound to bring the Rush back within one.
Tendeck was lifted for an extra attacker with a minute and a half remaining and the Rush mounted several chances but it was Wichita who was able to net one more goal. Brayden Watts won a race to a loose puck and backhanded it into the empty net to push the score to its 6-4 final.
Nelson had a goal and two assists, Thompson extended his point streak to six games and Perl tallied his first two ECHL points with a pair of assists in the loss. Rapid City fell to 6-7-1-1 while Wichita improved to 8-5-1-0.
The Rush and the Thunder will again meet on Sunday afternoon in Wichita. Puck drop at INTRUST Bank Arena is scheduled for 4:05 PM CST.