(GREENVILLE, S.C.) – The Rapid City Rush cut a five-goal deficit to two in the third period but could not dig out of their hole and fell to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 6-3, Friday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Greenville opened the scoring early in the first period by scoring on its first shot of the game. Justin Nachbaur sent a pass through the crease to Ayden MacDonald for a tap-in past the pad of Dillion Kelley and the Swamp Rabbits led, 1-0.
They added to that lead a few minutes later while on a power play. Nachbaur carried the puck over the blue line and fired a snap shot from the top of the right circle. It beat Kelley top shelf on the blocker side to make the score 2-0.
Greenville got another one shortly thereafter when Alex Ierullo carried the puck to the left circle and fed Nachbaur for a one-timer in the slot. He blasted it past Kelley and it was 3-0.
The Swamp Rabbits extended their advantage less than two minutes into the second period after a scoring chance in the Rush attacking zone led to a big rebound that bounced towards neutral ice. Ben Freeman grabbed it and led an odd-man break the other way. He fed Nachbaur for a shot that beat Kelley, giving Nachbaur a hat trick and Greenville a 4-0 advantage.
They struck again late in the second when the Rush turned the puck over at the blue line while on a power play. Freeman streaked in on a breakaway and snapped a shot five hole through Kelley to make it 5-0.
Rapid City began to mount pressure in the third period, first when Logan Nelson carried the puck below the goal line and left a backhanded pass for Brett Gravelle at the left circle. Gravelle banged home a one-timer and the Rush were on the board.
They struck again later in the third after Calder Brooks hit Avery Peterson at the left circle. Peterson charged towards the net, dragged the puck from his forehand to his backhand and snuck it under John Lethemon to make the score 5-2.
Less than 20 seconds later, the Rush struck again when Gravelle gained the zone and found Alec Butcher at the top of the right circle. Butcher blasted a slap shot top shelf that beat Lethemon on the glove side, cutting the Greenville lead to two.
But the Swamp Rabbits answered off a won faceoff in the attacking zone. Bobby Russell buried a one-timer from the left circle and the score was pushed to its 6-3 final.
Gravelle scored for the third consecutive game and Brooks extended his point streak to eight games in the loss. Rapid City dropped to 34-23-6-5 while Greenville improved to 31-27-5-4. The Rush and Swamp Rabbits will take Saturday off and then finish their series on Sunday afternoon. Puck drop at Bon Secours Wellness Arena is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. EDT.