BOISE, Idaho — Meeting for the final series of the season, the Rapid City Rush and Idaho Steelheads put on a defensive showcase, pushing the contest to a shootout before a winner would finally be decided.
Through the first 40 minutes of regulation, each respective netminder put on a defensive clinic between the pipes. The home team Steelheads peppered the net with 34 shots while Rapid City answered with a mere ten shots of their own. But the scoresheet was without a single tally.
It looked as though the goose eggs would remain heading into overtime until Idaho finally found a way to light the goal lamp.
Charlie Dodero came off the blue line after Connor Chatham forced a turnover behind the Rush net and rifled the puck off Rush netminder Adam Vay and into the back of the net with 4:32 remaining in the game, giving the Steelheads a 1-0 edge.
The late goal to break the scoreless drought could have been a back-breaker for the Rush considering Steelheads netminder Tomas Sholl had not allowed a goal in his last two games. Thanks to a late penalty against Dodero for holding the stick, the Rush were given a much-needed powerplay opportunity and newly acquired Alec Baer took full advantage. Jack Walker was able to dish the puck to Gustav Bouramman for a close-range backdoor shot on net that was initially stopped by Sholl, but Baer was right there to drive home the rebound with 2:10 left in the game and square the contest up 1-1. The goal was Baer’s first as a pro who was playing in his first professional game, and it happened with his father in attendance as well. Truly a special night for this rookie.
The deadlock would remain for the final 2:10 of regulation and through all five minutes of overtime, in which the Steelheads outshot the Rush 4-to-1.
So it all came down to a shootout.
Baer was once again called upon and he delivered in the bottom of the first round, putting the Rush up 1-0. Idaho squared it up in the third round with a goal from Justin Parizek, but Peter Sivak was denied on his chance to win the game. The shootout wouldn’t be decided until sudden death in the fifth round when Dodero got the game-winner after Daniel Leavens‘ attempt was denied by Sholl.
Tomas Sholl picked up the win, stopping 26-of-27 shots in regulation and overtime while Adam Vay suffered the tough-luck loss, stopping 48-of-49 shots on the night.
The biggest feather in the cap for the Rush was ending the shutout streak of Sholl, which was at 210 minutes and 14 seconds. An impressive effort, especially when it came with their backs against the wall to force overtime.
Post Season Scenarios
The Steelheads have all but wrapped up the #2 seed in the Mountain Division. With seven games left on their schedule, they hold a 10-point lead over #3 seed Wichita Thunder, who also have seven games left in the regular season. Idaho needs to earn five more points in its final seven games to lock up home-ice advantage in the opening round.
Both teams will square off for game two of this three-game bout on Friday, March 23rd. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:10 pm MT from the CenturyLink Arena.