RAPID CITY, S.D. — 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 hopes alive.
A late goal from the Americans proved to be just enough for Allen to escape the Black Hills with a victory during its 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 beat 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 the team’s first power play of the night, Gustav Bouramman got a shot on net which was deflected by Andrew Radjenovic past Americans netminder Jake Paterson to square the game up at one apiece. This was Rajenovic’s first goal in a Rush uniform, and it came at 9:34 of the opening frame.
Heading into the middle frame deadlocked at 1-1, Rapid City broke the tie to take its 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 tied the game up at three all just 2:47 into the 3rd period when he 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, good for 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, a trailing Spencer Asuchak took the feed from Alex Guptill and fired the puck into the net to regain the lead at 4-3. The Rush still had some fuel left in their tank as Radjenovic scored his second tally of the night, slipping the puck by Patterson blocker side at 16:31 to even the game up yet again.
With the way both netminders were playing late in the game, it looked to be heading to overtime. However, 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 most recent win coming on February 27th against the Mavericks.
The Americans held a slight edge in shots on goal outshooting the Rush 37-36, and going 1-for-5 on the power play, while Rapid City went 1-for-3 on its power play opportunities.
Patterson is credited with the win stopping 32 of 36 shots on the night while Frey takes the loss stopping 31 of 36 shots faced.
Rapid City Rush: With the loss, the Rush have now been mathematically 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 three-point edge for the final playoff spot in the Mountain division and 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 7:05 p.m. MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Allen Americans: The Americans continue their road trip as they face the defending Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles for a pair of weekend games. The first game is slated for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. MT at the Budweiser Events Center.
Please consider becoming a Patron as a way to say thanks and support us for what we do! https://www.patreon.com/thesinbinhockey