RAPID CITY, SD — Another lead squandered coupled with a controversial goal leads to a 4-2 victory by the Idaho Steelheads on Saturday night and a three-game sweep of the Rapid City Rush.
Similar to last night’s contest the Rush got out to an early lead and look to be cruising for a potential “W”. Logan Nelson got the night’s first tally on the score sheet, his 9th goal on the season, while on the man advantage after deflecting a shot from Riley Weselowski by Steelheads netminder Branden Komm at 7:29 of opening frame. Just over eight minutes later Rapid City would double its lead with their second powerplay goal in three attempts. Ryan Walters found himself in a 4-on-2 offensive rush and rifled the puck top-shelf at 15:40 giving Rapid City an early 2-0 lead in the game. Walters goal was his 25th on the year, a career high for the Rush captain.
Idaho would cut into that lead just over 60 seconds later as Brian Nugent pocketed his 6th goal of the season beating Rush netminder Adam Morrison at 16:48 to make it a 2-1 game.
Another scoreless middle frame would set the Steelheads up for another rally over the final 20 minutes of regulation. And they accepted the challenge once again.
The Steelheads squared the game at 2-2 when Joe Basaraba fed the puck to Rob Linsmayer in a 3-on-1 rush. Linsmayer fired the puck top shelf by Morrison at 4:11 to even up the game.
Then a little controversy ensued.
The Steelheads have the puck in the offensive zone and Nugent fires the puck on net, which does get by Morrison. Yet before the shot was fired the goal came off its moorings which, by definition, should negate this score. Head referee Sean Fernandez didn’t see it that way. Even though he didn’t confer with his linesman, goal judge, or even watch the replay on the big board he claimed the goal would stand which gave the Steelheads a 3-2 advantage at 6:35 of the final period. This did spark an outrage in Rush head coach Mark DeSantis who was ejected from the game over showing his obvious frustration with this call.
The goal would stand, though, and play would continue.
Similar to last night, though, the Rush couldn’t solve the visitor’s netminder after falling behind. Even after out-shooting their opponents 15-to-9 over the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Idaho would ice the game with an empty netter from Linsmayer at 19:37, thus giving the Steelheads the 4-2 victory on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” night as well as the weekend series sweep over Rapid City.
Branden Komm takes the win stopping 37-of-39 shots on the night while Adam Morrison suffers another tough loss stopping 30-of-33 shots on the night.
Rapid City will host the Alaska Aces for a two game series next Friday and Saturday. Puck drop for both nights is scheduled for 7:05pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Playoff Scenarios: The Rush still remain 14 points out of the final playoff spot with the Aces falling to 5-4 to the Utah Grizzlies in regulation. Rapid City can take a huge chunk out of the playoff deficit if they can get four clean points next weekend over Alaska.