RAPID CITY, SD — Friday night saw the lucky bounces go the Thunder’s way but they flipped the script for St Patrick’s Day as the Rush held off a furious Thunder rally to edge Wichita in extra time 4-3 to split the weekend series.
The opening period again was a netminder showcase as each team held strong between the pipes. Ian Brady broke the deadlock while on the man advantage for Nolan Descoteaux‘s tripping minor at 16:58. With the powerplay winding down Brady took the feed from Jack Walker and blasted the puck by Thunder netminder Nick Riopel for the 1-0 advantage. On the next possession the Thunder recorded the 2nd fastest scoring exchange of the season between the Rush and their opposition. Just 15 seconds later Kevin Dufour was able to get a close range shot on net that Rush netminder Adam Vay stopped initially but Dufour collected his own rebound and got the puck by Vay to square the game up 1-1 with 54 seconds left in the opening frame.
The deadlock remained through the bulk of the middle frame. A pair of unsportsmanline conduct penalties were handed out late in the period setting up 4-on-4 hockey. With less than a minute remaining Brayden Sherbinin drove the puck over Riopel’s shoulder to put the Rush back on top 2-1 heading into the final frame of regulation and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The Rush took command of the game shortly after the puck dropped for the 3rd period. With just 1:51 gone by Andrew Radjenovic took the feed from Walker and beat his defender in the attacking zone then sent the puck by Riopel for the 3-1 advantage for the Boys from the Black Hills.
Rapid City looked to let their foot off the gas after getting the 2-goal lead and the visiting Thunder took full advantage, scoring a pair of goals less than two minutes apart. The first came from Ralph Cuddemi at 4:59 who knocked in a rebound attempt to cut the deficit to 3-2. Vay was charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following the goal putting the Thunder on the man advantage. Wichita made quick work of that gift and got the tying goal at 6:40 when Brayden Low got a close range goal to tie the game up at 3-aside.
Rapid City picked their intensity back up as neither team could gain the advantage before the final horn forcing extra time.
As the clock wound down in 3-on-3 hockey it looks as though the game would head to a shootout. Peter Sivak was able to get by his defender and get a solo attempt on Riopel, firing the game winning shot with 1:08 left in overtime.
Adam Vay is credited with the win stopping 25-of-28 shots on the night while Nick Riopel takes the loss stopping 21-of-25 shots.
The Thunder went 1-for-4 on the man advantage while the Rush went 1-for-3 on their powerplay opportunities.
The Thunder still hold on to their 3rd place standing in the Mountain Division and a 5pt lead over the Allen Americans. The Americans do have two games in hand over the Thunder, though.
As always, we attended the game as spectators for our photographer Sarah Crook’s birthday. As an added bonus we were finally able to get her to do a puck drop before the game. Thank you to Jay Davis for helping to make that happen, the pics from Trisha Cuka and Mike Wolforth, and the video from Joe Luciano.
Rapid City Rush: The Rush travel to Idaho for a 3-game series against the Steelheads next week. First game in the series starts Wednesday, March 21st.
Wichita Thunder: The Thunder will travel to Kansas City for a mid-week match against the Mavericks on Tuesday, March 20th.