WICHITA, KS — The third period finally belonged to the Rapid City Rush who ended their five-game skid with a 7-5 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday night.
The night of “firsts” included Rapid City getting on the stat sheet first when Terrence Wallin lit the lamp just 44 seconds into the game. Taking the puck off the near wall Wallin rips a shot by Thunder netminder Scott Greenham, who was advancing on the offensive play, to put Rapid City up 1-0.
The Thunder would respond midway through the frame when Macoy Erkamps fired a shot that was deflected by Rush netminder Austin Lotz but Maxime St-Cyr was there to bang in the rebound at 11:36 to square the contest at 1-1. The goal was St-Cyr’s first in a Thunder jersey.
On to the middle frame with a six-goal combined eruption by both teams. The first would come at 6:09 when Ryan Misiak scored down low off a centering pass from Ryan Walters. The Thunder countered at 9:00 when Blake Tatchell poked in a rebound shot from Ian Lowe to square the game up 2-2. Rapid City would counter with two straight goals just over a minute apart. The first coming from Mark Cooper at 14:02 when he fired a one-timer to put the Rush back up 3-2. Rapid City doubled their lead at 15:13 when Walters scored his 23rd goal of the season, this one shorthanded, after forcing a turnover in the Thunder zone.
Wichita would answer back with a pair of goals of their own thanks to timely special teams opportunities. David Friedmann pulled the Thunder within 1 goal at 15:59 on that same power play opportunity. Alexis Vanier blasts the tying goal from the blue line at 18:07 during a 5-on-3 man advantage for the home team.
History was not on the side of the Rush heading into the final 20 minutes, having seen numerous recent games slip away during the 3rd period. That streak had to end at some point.
Alex Mikulovich would put the Rush on top for good at 5:58 of the frame, scoring his first professional goal, rifling the puck top shelf for the 5-4 lead. Misiak would add to his goal tally at 12:39 of the frame going top shelf to put the Rush on top 6-4. The Thunder would add a bit of drama with a late goal by Erkamps at 18:32 who sent the puck through traffic and by Lotz. Wichita had numerous attempts to secure the tie after pulling their goalie but the puck was never able to bounce by Lotz. Misiak would slam the door on the game when he secured the empty net goal at 19:03, which also gave him his first hat trick in his two-year professional career.
With the 7-5 win, Rapid City takes the first of a “four-game in three cities in five nights” series.
Austin Lotz gets the win, his first with Rapid City, stopping 23-of-28 shots on the night.
Rapid City was able to outshoot the Thunder 37-28 though the Thunder special teams outdid the Rush scoring on 2-of-6 opportunities while the Rush couldn’t capitalize on five power play opportunities.
The Rush next travel to Tulsa to take on the Oilers on Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:05 pm MT from the BOK Center.