(RAPID CITY, S.D.) – Alec Butcher had a goal and an assist and Lukas Parik made 30 saves but the Rapid City Rush fell to the Atlanta Gladiators in a shootout, 4-3, Friday night at The Monument Ice Arena. The Rush earned a point for the 12th time in their past 14 games.
Rapid City opened the scoring just over one minute into the opening period. Callum Fryer fed the puck toward the front of the net from the right wing boards and it bounced through traffic and found Butcher on the back door. Butcher slammed it into the net, putting the Rush on top, 1-0.
Later in the opening period, Alden Weller dumped the puck below the goal line where Zach Court controlled it. He fed Brett Van Os in front of the net who chipped a shot over Chris Snell’s shoulder and the Rapid City lead grew to two.
Atlanta got its offense rolling in the second period. First, Kameron Kielly grabbed a loose puck behind the net and sent a backhanded pass to the front for Derek Nesbitt, who tapped it in to get the Gladiators on the board. Following that, the Rush turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Mitchell Hoelscher carried it in on a breakaway. Hoelscher slid the puck between the legs of Parik, tying the game at two.
Later in the period, Billy Constantinou found some open ice in the high slot and flipped a wrist shot toward the net. It navigated traffic and beat a screened Parik, giving Atlanta its first lead of the game, 3-2.
The Rush answered late in the second period while operating on a power play. Ryan Zuhlsfdorf fed Butcher at the blue line, who then sent a slap pass to Keegan Iverson in front of the net. Iverson deflected the pass over Nell’s shoulder and the game was again tied, 3-3.
From that point on, the goaltenders stole the show. Neither team was able to score again throughout the remainder of regulation and overtime, despite multiple high-quality chances. The game eventually moved to a shootout and Nesbitt cashed in in the first round for Atlanta. That would be the only goal in the skills competition, and the Gladiators took the extra point, 4-3.
Butcher had a goal and an assist, Zuhlsdorf extended his point streak to ten games and the Rush moved to 31-21-4-5 in the shootout loss. Atlanta improved to 39-18-3-1 in the win.
The Rush and Gladiators will meet again on Saturday night in Rapid City. It’s First Responders night, presented by Loyal Plumbing, and puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at The Monument Ice Arena.