RAPID CITY, SD — The Rush entered Friday night’s tilt with the Reading Royals coming off a momentous three-game set, earning 5-of-6 possible points, while the Royals were continuing their strenuous road trip making their way back home.
Which team would falter?
Reading had an early scoring opportunity blocked when Olivier Labelle was hooked on a shot granting him a penalty shot opportunity but missed the shot off the post.
But the “norm” of the opponents scoring against the Boys from the Black Hills still continued when Robbie Czarnik took the deflection off a shot by Florian Iberer at 7:51 in the opening frame. The Rush would tie the contest in the closing seconds of the period when Nick Walters scored his first professional goal with 22.8 seconds firing a rebound shot after Michael Young and Ryan Walters both took hard shots at the net.
The scoring floodgates would burst in the middle frame with Reading scoring just 0:51 seconds in. Michael Pelech would score his second of the season banking the puck on a hard angle off Ryan Misiak and by Rush netminder Kent Patterson for the 2-1 advantage. Reading would continue to pour on the offensive pressure when Kevin Sundher doubled the visitor’s lead at 8:35 with Olivier Labelle and Todd Perry each getting credit with the assist. Minutes later Nick Luukko would come out of the box after serving a two-minute minor for cross-checking and took the feed past the Rush defense and in a 1-on-1 with Patterson, beating the netminder for the 4-1 lead at 11:22.
Rapid City would fight back, though, with Nathan Moon scoring a sharp angle goal on the powerplay at 14:18 to cut the Royals lead to 4-2. With less than thirty seconds to play in the period, Hunter Fejes would take the puck from Brayden Low over the blue line and get the puck off the glove of Royals netminder Martin Ouellette to pull within a single goal before heading into the 2nd intermission.
That would be as close as Rapid City would get.
Reading added a goal just 2:27 into the 3rd period from Olivier Labelle and finished off any chance of a rally when Steven Swavely throws the puck the full length of the ice at 18:50 for an empty-netter while the Rush were on a 6-on-4 advantage.
Royals netminder Martin Ouellette gets credit for the win, stopping 15-of-18 shots. Rush netminder Kent Patterson takes the loss stopping 29-of-34 attempts.
Both teams will square off for the final time this season tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.