RAPID CITY, SD — It was a do-or-die game for both the Allen Americans, who were playing to retain their playoff positioning, and the Rapid City Rush, who were looking to keep their slim playoff chances alive. A late goal from the Americans proved to be just enough for Allen to escape the Black Hills with a victory during their final tilt with Rapid City this season.
The Americans struck the first blow of the night when Thomas Frazee secured his own rebound and followed it up with a quick return to send the puck by Rush netminder Christian Frey for the early 1-0 edge at the 5:36 mark. Rapid City was able to counter less than five minutes later. Working their first powerplay of the night Gustav Bouramman got a shot on net that was deflected by Andrew Radjenovic sending the puck by Americans netminder Jake Paterson to square the game up as 1-aside. This was Rajenovic’s first goal in a Rush uniform and came at 9:34 of the opening frame.
Heading into the middle frame deadlocked at 1-1 Rapid City broke the tie to take their first lead of the game. Another new acquisition for the Rush made his presence known after just arriving into town earlier in the day. Stephen Hrehoriak scored his first professional goal at 8:53 of the 2nd period, picking up a rebound off a shot from Shaquille Merasty and squeezing the puck by Patterson to give the Rush a 2-1 edge. Things seemed to be going Rapid City’s way but all that changed in a blink of an eye. The Americans put up a pair of goals just 13-seconds apart in the latter portions of the period to take some of the wind out of the Rush sails and secure a 3-2 advantage heading into the final period of regulation.
With their backs against the wall the Rush were down but definitely not out. Peter Sivak squared the game up at 3-aside just 2:47 into the 3rd period. Sivak took a deep pass from Tyler Vankleef and rifled the puck under Patterson’s glove to score his team-leading 21st goal of the season. Riley Weselowski also received an assist on the score which is his 198th career point. Look for him to potentially break the 200-point mark this weekend.
The see-saw battle continued with Allen regaining the lead just past the halfway point of the period. On the man-advantage, Spencer Asuchak was trailing on the play and took the feed from Alex Guptill and fired the puck by Frey to regain the lead at 4-3. The Rush still had some fuel left in their tank when Radjenovic scored his second tally of the night, slipping the puck by Patterson’s blocker side at 16:31 to square the game back up at 4-aside.
The way both netminders were playing late the game looked to be heading to overtime. Casey Pierro-Zabotel dished the puck off to J.C. Campagna who got a close range blast by Frey with 1:14 remaining in regulation to put the Americans up 5-4. Rapid City pulled Frey with 55-seconds left but were unable to tally the equalizer. The Rush have now dropped their last seven games with their last win coming on February 27th against the Mavericks.
The Americans held a slight edge in shots-on-goal, outshooting the Rush 37-to-36 and went 1-for-5 on the powerplay while Rapid City went 1-for-3 on their powerplay opportunities.
Jake Patterson is credited with the win stopping 32-of-36 shots on the night while Christian Frey takes the loss stopping 31-of-36 shots faced.
Rapid City Rush: With the loss the Rush have now been mathmatically eliminated from playoff contention. They will now look to play spoiler for other playoff contending teams as well as get a look at potential players to acquire for their 2018-19 season.
Allen Americans: With Tulsa being idle the Americans were able to secure a 3-point edge for the final playoff spot in the Mountain division still have one-game in hand. Their magic number currently sits at “4”.
Rapid City Rush: The Rush will host the Wichita Thunder in a pair of games this weekend. Puck drop for the first game is Friday night at 7:05pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Allen Americans: The Americans continue their road trip as they face the defending Kelly Cup Champ Colorado Eagles for a pair of weekend games. The first game is slated for Friday night at 7:05pm MT at the Budweiser Events Center.