WICHITA, KS – Heading into Wednesday night’s game at INTRUST Bank Arena, the Rapid City Rush and Wichita Thunder had a battle of winless streaks. Entering the game, Rapid City had a winless skid of five, while Wichita had tied a season-long with a nine-game winless drought.
One was going to end.
The first period was an extremely spirited period between the evenly matched squads. The Rush struck gold first when Terrance Wallin poked a puck through Scott Greenham‘s five-hole to give Rapid City a 1-0 lead. When scoring first this season, the Rush are 12-4-5.
Wichita evened things up at the 11:36 mark when Maxime St. Cyr poked home the rebound of a Macoy Erkamps shot what was sitting just in front of Rush goaltender Austin Lotz. For St. Cyr, it was his first goal in a Thunder uniform.
Then, the see-saw battle hit full throttle in the second period.
Ryan Misiak opened the scoring just over six minutes into the period when he fired a wrist shot that Greenham did not see because of an Alexis Vanier screen. Three minutes later, Blake Tatchell scored his sixth goal of the season when he potted the rebound of an Ian Lowe shot.
When they were not scoring goals, the Rush did a great job exploiting Wichita in the puck possession game all night long. For a stretch of almost 1:45 during the middle stages of the period, the Rush hemmed Wichita in their defensive zone and fired shot after shot on Greenham. Wichita has struggled mightily against puck possession teams all season long, and that continued on Wednesday night.
With the score tied at two, the scoring picked up in the final six minutes of the second period. It started when Mark Cooper fired a shot that beat Greenham blocker side to give Rapid City a 3-2 lead. Just 71 seconds later, the Rush doubled their lead when Ryan Walters won a puck battle with Vanier and was able to again go blocker side on Greenham. That was the second short-handed goal allowed by Wichita during their nine-game losing streak.
Wichita, to their credit, would fight back to even the game. David Friedmann would score the first of two straight power play goals poke the puck through Lotz’s five-hole to bring Wichita within one. After a Mike Monfredo penalty for interference, the Thunder tied the game on a Vanier shot that beat Lotz over his glove side.
Get all that? Good.
In the third, Alex Mikulovich scored his first professional goal when he lasered a shot that beat Greenham high and it gave Rapid City a 5-4 lead. Misiak scored his second goal of the night with 7:21 left in the game to give Rapid City a 6-4 lead. Wichita would make things interesting when Erkamps fired home a shot from the blueline to make the game 6-5 Rapid City. Misiak would put a puck into the empty net to give the Rush a 7-5 win. For Misiak, it was his first professional hat trick and four points on the night.
Wichita’s losing streak is now at ten games and the Toledo Walleye come to town for a weekend set beginning Friday night.
NOTES: Tatchell finished with a three-point night (1G, 2A)…Nelson got an assist in his return to Wichita…The Rush improved to 3-20-5 when scoring more than four goals….Wichita has allowed 57 goals in their 10-game losing streak…Monfredo collected a trio of assists…Wichita went 2-6 on the power play, while Rapid City went 0-5 on the man-advantage…Wichita wins the season series against Rapid City 2-1-0.