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RAPID CITY EDGED AT HOME BY WICHITA, 4-3

Saturday, February 12th
RAPID CITY EDGED AT HOME BY WICHITA, 4-3

(RAPID CITY, S.D.) – The Rapid City Rush nearly erased a three-goal deficit and brought themselves within one but came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Wichita Thunder, Friday night at The Monument Ice Arena.

Wichita opened the scoring in the first period as it gained the zone and worked the puck to Billy Exell at the left circle. He snapped a wrist shot on net that beat Lukas Parik on the glove side, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead.

The Rush answered later in the first period when Ryan Valentini forced a turnover in the attacking zone and found himself loose in the slot. Valentini slung a shot top shelf past Olivier Rodrigue and the game was tied at one.

Wichita then responded with two more goals in the first period, first when Stephen Johnson cashed in shorthanded following a Rush defensive zone turnover, then with a Peter Crinella backhander in the final minute of the period that pushed the score to 3-1.

In the second, the Thunder added to their advantage as they gained the zone with a three-on-two rush. Stephen Johnson hit Cam Clarke on the back side for a wrist shot that he got past Parik high, making the score 4-1.

That would be it for Parik who was pulled in favor of Dillon Kelley after allowing four goals on 18 shots.

Rapid City got itself back into the game later in the second after Callum Fryer gained the zone, drew the defense to him and left a drop pass for Max Coatta. Coatta loaded up a snap shot and sent it darting past Rodrigue, cutting the deficit to two.

In the final minutes of the second the Rush struck again after Ryan Valentini forced the puck to the front of the net. Alec Butcher poked a pass across the crease where Alden Weller was alone on the back door. He backhanded the puck into the net and the lead was down to one at 4-3.

The Rush kept the pressure up in the third period and outshot the Thunder, 15-6, in the final frame but were unable to get anything else past Rodrigue. Wichita’s netminder held strong and the Thunder took the game, 4-3.

Valentini had a goal and an assist, Weller netted his second goal of the season and Kelley stopped all 15 shots he faced in relief. Rapid City fell to 22-19-4-2 in the loss while Wichita improved to 19-21-6-0.

The Rush will again take on the Thunder on Saturday night. It’s Rush Fights Cancer night, presented by Vitalant and the team will be wearing specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off postgame with a portion of proceeds going towards The Monument Health Foundation. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at The Monument Ice Arena.

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