LOVELAND, CO — The Colorado Eagles would rally late in the game to secure a 3-2 victory over the visiting Rapid City Rush and retain the Crystal Cup for another year.
The opening twenty minutes of regulation was scoreless as each netminder was able to turn aside a combined 11 shots between both teams.
Nearly another eleven minutes would go by before anyone would get the first tally, which went to Colorado.
Luke Salazar got the Eagles on the board at 10:47 of the middle frame as he finished a picturesque 3-on-2 passing play before sending the puck over the glove of Rush netminder Adam Morrison. Rapid City found a way to rebound late in the period, though, putting up a pair of goals in a span of four minutes. The first came from Hunter Fejes who tallied his 14th goal of the year. Just before the powerplay on a Luke Salazar penalty expired Fejes was able to slam the puck home by Eagles netminder Kent Simpson at 15:05 and square the game at 1-1. Then with 1:18 left in the middle frame Terrence Wallin hacked at the loose puck and it took a fortuitous bounce by Simpson to give the Rush a 2-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
The home team would counter with a pair of goals in the final frame. Johnny Lazo squared the game up at 2-2 at 10:01 when he deflected a shot from Salazar by Morrison. Less than three minutes later Jake Marto put the Eagles up with their lone powerplay goal of the night, blasting a one-timer from the far wall that beat Morrison up high with 7:24 left in the game.
The 3-2 advantage would prove to be enough as Colorado held the late 6-5 man advantage for Rapid City to secure the win and their second straight Crystal Cup Trophy.
Kent Simpson is credited with the win stopping 21-of-23 shots on the night while Adam Morrison suffers the loss stopping 27-of-30 shots he faced.
Rapid City now heads north for their final all-time series against the Alaska Aces in a 3-game set. Puck drop for the first game will be Friday at 9:15 pm MT from the Sullivan Arena.