RAPID CITY, SD – The Rapid City Rush earned all three of their regulation goals on the power play and eventually forced a shootout, but the Alaska Aces won in the seventh round to clinch the second point in the contest, defeating the Rush 4-3 on Saturday night.
With the point earned by the Rush and the two earned by Alaska, Both teams are tied for 11th in the Western Conference, each team with 21 games left, and are 9 points out of a playoff spot behind the Indy Fuel.
Special teams were the story of the opening frame, with both teams increasing their goal total by one on the power play. Two nights in a row, the Aces jumped on the board first with Felix-Antoine Poulin affording his club a 1-0 lead. With 5:32 left in the first, within the final moments of the Aces second power play of the game, Poulin came off of his blue line and crashed the Rush net and the traffic jam in front, and knocked the puck by Rush net-minder Sam Marotta (Garet Hunt and Peter Sivak notched the assists).
Exactly 90 seconds later, the Rush fought back and scored the first of their three power play goals. Cody Ferriero helped execute a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play in the offensive zone, sending the puck down low to Taylor Doherty, who back-handed the puck across the low slot to Ryan Misiak. Misiak finished on a wide-open net by Aces goaltender Jacob DeSerres, knotting the game up at 1-1 with 4:02 left in the first (Ferriero and Doherty earned the helpers).
Both teams kept up with each other step-by-step, and the Rush paced the opening parts of the second period. On their fourth power play of the game, Ferriero earned his second point of the contest by blasting a one-timer from the high slot by DeSerres to give the home side its only lead of the game at 2-1 with 7:24 played in the middle frame (Doherty got his second assist of the night, while Misiak added his first assist to give him two points in the game). Alaska tied it up less than three minutes later with Peter Sivak’s second goal in as many nights, evening the score at 2-2 with 9:53 left in the second (Stephen Perfetto and Davis Vandane assisted).
Just 1:12 later, Perfetto deflected a Sivak shot from the near wall of the Rush zone by Marotta to put the Aces up for the last time in regulation at 3-2 with 8:41 to play in the middle act (Sivak notched his second assist and third point, while Justin Breton earned his first of the game with the other assist).
On the sixth and final Rush power play of the game with 4:12 left in the second period, James Melindy sniped a wrist shot from the high slot off of his blue line, tying things up again at 3-3 with just ten seconds played on the power play (Doherty earned his third assist, while Ferriero earned his third point with his second).
The Rush penalty kill staved off multiple chances created by the Aces, who had their last three power plays come in the final period, but Marotta and his man-down unit were stalwart, eventually forcing overtime.
Five minutes of three-on-three was still not enough, and prompted a shootout that would require extra rounds. Peter Sivak scored for the Aces in the top of the first, followed by an unsuccessful attempt from Lindsay Sparks. Alaska’s Justin Breton was denied in the top of the second, followed by a Cody Ferriero strike that evened the sides up at 1-1 through two rounds. Both Stephen Perfetto and Spencer Pommells did not capitalize in the third round, which prompted the first of four extra rounds that were necessary to finish the game. Felix-Antoine Poulin and Danick Gauthier didn’t score in the fourth round, but both Marc-Andre Levesque and Mikhail Stefanovich did in the fifth. That was followed by Collin Valcourt and Winston Day Chief’s missed opportunities, which eventually set the table for the final chance needed. Ben Lake scored for Alaska and DeSerres denied Rapid City’s James Melindy, giving the Aces a 4-3 win and the second point in a seven-round shootout.
Sam Marotta suffered the shootout loss for the Rush, stopping 33 of 36 shots in regulation and overtime (3-9-1).
Both teams rematch this afternoon at 4:05 p.m. MST at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.