RAPID CITY, SD — Saturday night’s rubber match between the Rapid City Rush and Tulsa Oilers wouldn’t be decided in regulation.
The netminders kept the opposing offenses honest forcing extra time before the Rush were able to pocket the game, and series, winner with a 2-1 victory.
Both teams were quick to drop the gloves early and often in this contest as three separate altercations broke out before the first ten minutes had even expired.
The game remained scoreless until Peter Sivak got things going for the Rush. He was able to fire a rebound shot from Kenton Miller by Oilers netminder Jake Hildebrand with 4:47 remaining in the opening period to give the home team the lead. The rink was soon littered with 1,246 teddy bears and assorted stuffed animals for the annual Teddy Bear toss. The game was delayed while various police and firefighters in attendance helped other volunteers and Rush players gather up the toys being donated this holiday season. The Rush would take that 1-0 edge into the 1st intermission, also having the advantage in shots on goal leading the Oilers 16-to-11 in that stat.
Rapid City would hold onto that lead for the majority of the middle frame until Tulsa was finally able to end their special teams drought against the Rush. Rapid City had been able to kill off the last 22 powerplay opportunities against the Oilers dating back to the 2016-17 season. Adam Pleskach was able to score on the man-advantage with 12.4 seconds left in the period to square the contest up at 1-aside.
Both Adam Vay for the Rush and Hildebrand for the Oilers were on their A-game in the final period of regulation, stopping a combined 17 shots between the two. This included an impressive stop by Vay on a penalty shot with 5:29 remaining in the game.
The majority of overtime was deadlocked and had all the signs it would be heading to a shootout. Matt Caito had other plans, though, who ripped the game winning shot by Hildebrand with 23 seconds remaining to send those in attendance into a celebratory frenzy.
With the win the Rush capture 4-of-6 possible points and take the 3-game weekend series against the Oilers.
The Rush outshot the visiting Oilers 44-to-37 and the offensive production showed on the tally sheet.
Adam Vay is credited with the win stopping 36-of-37 shots on the night while Jake Hildebrand takes the loss stopping 42-of-44 shots.
Rapid City next travels to Allen for a 2-game series with the Americans. The first game is scheduled for Friday, December 1st, with puck drop at 6:05pm MT.