RAPID CITY, SD – Hockey season has returned to the Black Hills, but you’d never know it was a preseason tilt based on the intensity on the ice.
If the 65+ minutes of hockey Friday night were any indication on how this season will progress, then the 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Eagles is nothing to be ashamed of for the Rapid City Rush.
The scoring started early as the visitors lit the lamp at 4:47 of the opening frame when Jessey Astles got a solid snipe shot on Rush netminder Kent Patterson for a powerplay goal and a 1-0 lead.
Colorado would double their lead at 4:44 in the middle frame when Luke Salazar ripped the puck into the back of the net with Patterson being screened on the play. The power play goal came with 51 seconds left on a five minute major being served by Cody Castro for charging.
Needing to get ice time for all their goalies on the training camp roster, the Rush swapped Patterson out for #30 with just over nine minutes left in the period. But this #30 was not The “Batman,” Danny Battochio, who is now serving as a goalie consultant for the Rush. The current #30 is worn by Charlie Grant.
The switch may have done something to light a fire under the home team as their intensity seemed jump a notch shortly after that.
Getting the puck deep in the Eagles zone the Rush were able to get a few key shots on net before Josh Macdonald poked it home at 11:23 to pull the Rush within a 2-1 deficit.
Less than four minutes later, however, the Eagles would regain their 2-goal advantage when Jake Marto ripped a shot from outside the far faceoff circle that knuckled the puck by Grant at 15:02.
The Eagles took their 3-1 advantage into the final period and looked to put the home team away.
Ryan Misiak had other plans, however.
The Rush forward scored the team’s lone powerplay goal just 1:49 into the final frame off a rebound attempt to cut the Eagles lead to 3-2.
The 3,200 fans were sent into a frenzy a few minutes later when the special teams lit the lamp again. This time it was off a highlight worthy shorthanded goal by Nathan Moon, who took a pass up from Misiak and converted it with a slick turnaround backhanded shot at 4:31.
The electricity was in full force as the game saw two full-fledged fights in the opening two periods and a 4-on-3 for Colorado in OT to add to the preseason dramatics.
Both goalies stood tall in the extra period to force a three round shootout.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored for the Eagles while scored for the Rush. The game winner came in the fifth round from Derek Rodwell when Evan Dixon failed to convert his attempt at the top of the round.
If this is any indication on how the season will look for Rapid City then hopefully this will put the rest of the league on notice.
The same two teams will place the second game of this preseason series tonight at the Budweiser Event Center. The puck is set to drop at 7:05pm.
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