(WICHITA, Kan.) - Bailey Brkin made 28 saves on 29 shots, Brett Gravelle scored twice and the Rapid City Rush cruised to a 4-1 win over the Wichita Thunder, Thursday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
The Rush opened the scoring in the first period when Calder Brooks carried the puck down the right wing boards, evaded a hip check and got it below the goal line. He fed a backhanded pass in front where Gravelle had inside position. Gravelle swept the puck past Evan Buitenhuis and Rapid City took a 1-0 lead.
Wichita answered two minutes later while skating with a man advantage. Cam Clarke sent a stretch pass through center that sprung Michal Stinil for a breakaway. Stinil moved from his forehand to his backhand and slid the puck five hole on Brkin, tying the game at one.
The Rush grabbed the lead back at the midway point of the second period when Brooks poke checked a loose puck to the slot where Gravelle was alone. Gravelle snapped a shot top shelf on the blocker side of Buitenhuis to make it 2-1.
Later in the second, Rapid City added to that advantage as Brady Fleurent sent a puck to the front of the net that Kenton Helgesen tapped to the back post. Gabe Chabot gathered it and banged it home, extending the Rush lead to 3-1.
They’d grab another insurance marker in the third period as off a won faceoff, Jake Wahlin dug the puck off the left wing boards and carried it to the front of the net. Wahlin dragged the puck to his backhand and rocketed a shot low past Buitenhuis and the Rapid City lead grew to 4-1.
Brooks, Helgesen and Fleurent each had two assists, Gravelle recorded his first two-goal game with Rapid City and Brkin made 28 saves on 29 shots in his Rush debut. For Fleurent, his two-assist game came in what was also his Rush debut, against the team that waived him on Tuesday.
Rapid City improved to 15-14-3-2 in the win while Wichita fell to 12-17-4-0. The Rush and Thunder will meet again on Friday night in Wichita. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM CST at INTRUST Bank Arena.