RAPID CITY, S.D. — A pair of quick goals in succession set the tone early on as the visiting Idaho Steelheads topped the Rapid City Rush 4-2 Wednesday night, the first game of a three-game set.
It didn’t take long for the Steelheads to secure the night’s first tally. In the closing seconds of their first powerplay opportunity, Cole Ully took the feed and got the puck by Rush netminder Adam Vay for the early 1-0 lead at the 3:32 mark. Just 46 seconds later, Idaho would double their lead off the stick of Will Merchant, who took the loose puck and fired it by Vay to put Idaho ahead 2-0 at the 4:18 mark. Idaho completely dominated the Rush in the opening period, outshooting the home team 13-to-5 and going 1-for-2 with the man advantage. On the other side, the Rush were unsuccessful on their lone powerplay chance.
Rapid City came out in the middle frame looking to regain some ground in the contest. They would finally find the back of the net at 8:16 for the lone goal of the frame. While on their first powerplay opportunity of the period, Kenton Miller gets a backdoor deflection to put the puck by Steelheads’ netminder Philippe Desrosiers for his team-leading 19th goal of the season and cuts the deficit to 2-1 with 11:44 remaining.
Heading into the final frame, the Steelheads still held a 26-to-16 edge in shots-on-goal but Rapid City stepped their tempo up only being outshot 13-to-11 in the middle frame. The Rush would have their work cut out for them in the final 20 minutes of regulation as Idaho held a 21-1-0-1 record when taking a lead into the 3rd period.
Max French made sure they weren’t looking to add a second loss in regulation to that stat, as he sniped a shot off the bar and over Vay’s shoulder just 48 seconds into the frame to extend Idaho’s lead to 3-1. Rapid City continued to battle back when Pavel Jenys brought the Rush back within striking distance, taking the loose puck in front of the Steelheads’ net and slamming home a backdoor shot at the 4:11 mark, cutting Idaho’s lead to 3-2. French took advantage of a Rush turnover down low in the slot and rifled the puck by Vay to regain the multi-goal advantage for Idaho, extending their lead to 4-2 with 9:13 left in regulation. Rapid City wasn’t able to capitalize with the extra attacker both on a late powerplay opportunity and when they pulled Vay.
Idaho finished with a 40-to-25 edge in shots-on-goal and went 1-for-6 on the man advantage while Rapid City went 1-for-4 on the powerplay.
Philippe Desrosiers is credited with the win stopping 23-of-25 shots on the night while Adam Vay takes the loss stopping 36-of-40 shots.
Both teams will square off on Friday in game two of three-game series. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.