RAPID CITY, Sd. – The visiting Colorado Eagles edged their longtime rivals Rapid City Rush 2-1 on Saturday night in their final tilt ever in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
For the second night in a row Shaquille Merasty got the game’s first tally and set the tone for the Boys from the Black Hills. Eagles netminder Lukas Hafner held strong during a pair of attempts before Merasty secured the loose puck and slammed the rebound home for the 1-0 Rush edge at the 4:17 mark, and for the second night in a row the Eagles found a way to counter each Rush score. Matt Garbowsky powered his way into the attacking zone and made a backhanded attempt on net that was turned aside by Rush netminder Adam Vay but Ryan Siiro picked up the loose puck and drove home the rebound and his first professional goal, tying the game with 12:15 left in the period. That score would hold for the opening twenty minutes of action with the Rush outshooting the Eagles 14-to-12 and Colorado was not able to capitalize on their lone powerplay opportunity.
Offensive success was light in the middle frame with the only goal coming at the 13:40 mark while on their second powerplay of the night. Dylan Labbe turned the puck over on the glass to Matt Garbowsky who drove the lane and handed the puck off to Ryan Olsen who fired a shot under the glove of Vay for the eventual game winner.? This was Olson’s 15th goal of the season.
An odd penalty situation took place toward the end of the 2nd period when Andrew Miller was called for a five minute major for kneeing and a ten minute game misconduct at the 18:21 mark. But Colorado’s “score-at-will” power play opportunity was cut short due to a pair of Colorado infractions that all but negated that advantage.
Colorado would stand tall during the final 20 minutes of regulation to get the full two points in the standings and leave the Black Hills for the final time with a close 2-1 win. The Eagles held a slim 32-to-30 edge in shots-on-goal and went 1-for-4 on the man advantage while the Rush were held in-check during their lone powerplay chance.
Lukas Hafner is credited with the win stopping 29-of-30 shots faced on the night while Adam Vay takes the loss stopping 30-of-32 shots faced.
These two long time rivals will face each other one last time on Sunday in Loveland, CO. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05pm MT from the Budweiser Events Center.