RAPID CITY — It seems like a lifetime ago that the Rush were flirting with the top spot in the division. A killer slump to close out 2018, that bled into 2019 ,sent the once hopeful Boys from the Black Hills into a downward spiral that nearly had them tied with the Allen Americans in the Mountain Division cellar.
Flip the page to the middle of January where the Rush faced off against the top-tiered Florida Everblades and came away with 2pts in that 3-game series (being outscored 11-4 but some untimely bounces of the puck went the way of the visitors that blew open a tight contest). The momentum from that series spilled into their Stock Show Road Trip resulting in taking 6pts and a 2-2-2-0 record against five different teams.
Climbing the Ladder
Not wanting to rest on their laurels Rapid City continued their climb in the Mountain Division as they took on the Wichita Thunder for a 2-game series.
Both teams were held off the stat sheet as the netminders kept the combined 19 shots in the opening frame from getting to the back of the net.
Rapid City secured a pair of goals in the middle frame, both coming off the stick of Cedric Montminy.
Wichita didn’t go quietly into the night as special teams cut the deficit in half with 90-seconds remaining of a powerplay goal from
Taylor Cammarata. The visitors would get no closer as Tyler Parks secured the win stopping 19-of-20 shots on the night for the Rush.
Saturday’s rematch started with an offensive explosion in the opening frame seeing the home team take a commanding 4-1 advantage into the first intermission.
Both teams traded off goals in the first half of the period with
Chris Leibinger scoring for the Rush at 3:55 and Pierre-Cedric Labrie countering at 6:30 for the visitors. Rapid City was able to rattle off three straight goals in just over nine minutes, including a powerplay goal from
Justin Faryna, to build a 3-goal advantage.
Special teams contributed to both goals in the middle frame as the Rush took a 5-1 lead off a powerplay goal by Tyler Poulsen only to see the Thunder counter with a short-handed goal from Lane Bauer.
Things looked promising for an easy sweep for Rapid City as they started the final 20 minutes with a 5-to-2 advantage. Wichita wasn’t about to go down without swinging, however. Jeremy Beaudry and Stefan Fournier each pocketed a powerplay goal just 1:15 apart to pull the visiting Thunder within a single goal and 13 minutes left in regulation. The Rush defense stepped their game back up and secured an empty netter and late powerplay goal to secure the 7-to-4 “Watiki Win”.
Adam Carlson secured the win for the Rush, stopping 28-of-32 shots on the night that put the Rush squarely in 5th place in the division.
Twenty One and Counting
The Rush currently sit at 5th place in the Mountain Division. While they are only 4pts out of the final playoff spot the team they are trailing, the Kansas City Mavericks, also have six games in hand on Rapid City.
Every series the Rush will play for the rest of the season should be considered a “mini playoff series” if they want to keep their post season hopes alive.
Of the remaining 21 games on the schedule 18 are against division opponents. Of those 18 games the Rush will face the Grizzlies and Steelheads a combined 14 times. So there is very little room for error.
The Rush travel to Idaho for a three game series. Puck drop for the first game is Wednesday night at 7:10pm MT from CenturyLink Arena.