RAPID CITY, SD — The visiting Tulsa Oilers responded in the final period to top the host Rapid City Rush 3-1 on Friday night and even the weekend series.
Before the game, Tulsa Oilers head coach Rob Murray made his return to the bench one week after passing out during the game against the Quad City Mallards.
Murray had been replaced by assistant coach Zac Desjardins and the team has dropped three games in a row.
The opening frame saw a slight edge in shots to the Boys from the Black Hills, taking an 8-to-7 advantage over Tulsa, but the netminders held court keeping the pucks out of their respective nets.
The Rush would eventually be the first to light the lamp tonight, but it wouldn’t come until the very end of the middle frame. With 1:33 left in the 2nd period Alex Guptill breaks the deadlock in the high-slot, getting the puck by Oilers netminder Jake Hildebrand for the 1-0 advantage and his fourth goal of the season.
It wouldn’t take the visiting Oilers long to counter in the final frame. With just 0:43 gone by Conner Bleackley was able to thread the puck by Rush netminder Adam Vay and tie the contest up at 1-all. That deadlock would remain until 16:30 when the Rush lost control of the puck in their offensive zone and Evan Richardson and Charlie Sampair took the 2-on-1 advantage down the ice. Richardson finished the scoring opportunity by feeding the puck to Sampair who was wide open on the backdoor and blasted a one-timer home for the 2-1 edge and the eventual game-winner. Rapid City got lucky with a late powerplay opportunity and added to their advantage by pulling Vay from between the pipes, but luck bounced in favor of Tulsa. Even though the Rush got several good scoring shots Dylan Hubbs was able to get an empty net shorthanded goal at 18:55 to put the nail in the coffin for the 3-1 final.
Hildebrand gets the win for the Oilers, stopping 28-of-29 shots on the night while Vay takes the loss stopping 34-of-36 shots during regulation.
Both teams will square off for the rubber match Saturday night to cap off the 3-game weekend series and the 7-game home stand for the Rush. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
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