RAPID CITY, SD — The Rapid City Rush haven’t had an offensive explosion like this since a 7-2 victory over Wichita on December 8th. But it couldn’t have come at a better time as the boys from the Black Hills hope their 8-6 win over the visiting Ft Wayne Komets will aid in their late-season playoff push.
The Rush kicked off the scoring clinic just 6:19 into the game when Daniel Barczuk took a pass from Spencer Pommells and zipped it by Pat Nagle for the 1-0 lead.
The Komets got on the board at 11:43 of the 1st perioed when Schaafsma with a pointblank rebound attempt.
Rapid City would climb back on top when O’Rourke got a quick turnover in the neutral zone and dished the puck to MacDonald who found Sparks in the low slot who would bounce the puck off the crossbar at 12:55.
The Rush would extend their lead early in the middle frame when Stefanovich gets a one-timer by Nagle at 2:21 for the powerplay goal and a 3-1 lead.
Ft Wayne would not go quietly into the night, however, as they too would score on a powerplay to put them within a goal of the home team at 4:08.
The back-and-forth scoring would continue as the Komets tied the game back up 3-3 with at the 6:50 mark of the middle frame only to see Sparks tally his second goal of the night at 9:38 on a deflection from O’Rourke. The lead was shortlived, however, as Ft Wayne tied the contest 4-4 with 9:32 left to play in the frame.
It wouldn’t take long into the final frame for the Rush to break the 4-4 tie as MacDonald scored on a sick wrister at 1:22 and would add to his point total again at 6:15 when he sent a pass from Sparks past Nagle again to give the Rush a 6-4 lead.
That’s all coach Gary Graham needed to see as he pulled Nagle for Spencer Martin. Ft Wayne would continue to apply pressure on Rush netminder Danny Battochio and it finally paid off just over a minute later as the Komets catch the Batman off balance at 7:27 to pull within 6-5 in the 3rd.
Thomas would add renewed life to his club as he tallied a hat trick at 14:37 when he fought off his defender and slung the 3-inch piece of rubber past Battochio with authority and tied the game up again at 6-6.
Rapid City has come too far to give up this game, though, and Walters poked the puck home after the Rush crashed the net with 1:39 left in the game. MacDonald would get the hat trick with 10.7 left in the game on the empty netter and sealed the 8-6 win for the Rapid City Rush. This is only the second time in franchise history that a rookie has scored a hat trick and the first time a player has done this in their debut.
But the game would not be without its fair share of drama. The night started out with a moving tribute to Season Ticket Holder Josh Snyder that included players from both teams shaking his hand and his family’s hand at puck drop but ended with several players find dance partners after the final puck drop and before time expired. Several penalties were still being discussed at the time of this article.
Both teams will take the ice again tomorrow night with puck drop slated for 7:05pm. Will this offensive production continue? Time will tell. But if it sticks around long enough then the Rush could still position themselves for one of the last playoff spots for the season.