FT WAYNE, IN — The Rapid City Rush rally from a 3-goal deficit to the Fort Wayne Komets fell short in their final game of the “Stock Show Road Trip” Friday night, losing 6-4 in a gritty contest.
The home team wasted no time in getting the night’s first tally. Marc-Olivier Roy took a pass in the high slot and rifled a shot top-shelf, over the shoulder of Rush netminder Adam Vay, for the early 1-0 advantage just 15-seconds into the period. The Rush squared the contest up at 8:48 when Matt Caito ripped a shot from the far wall and by Komets netminder Garrett Bartus. Fort Wayne regained the advantage late in the frame when Mason Baptista was able to send the puck top-shelf again over Vay’s shoulder with 2:10 remaining. They would carry the 2-1 edge into the 1st intermission, though the Rush were outshooting the Komets 8-to-6.
Each team would tally a goal in the middle frame. Fort Wayne struck first at 5:56 when Ryan Lowney took the feed from Shawn Szydlowski and rocketed the puck by Vay for the 3-1 advantage. Rapid City gets a clutch goal from Tyler Deresky with 1:01 left in the frame as he fired a shot from the high slot to pull the Rush within striking distance. Fort Wayne would take the narrow 3-2 edge into the 2nd intermission, outshooting the Rush 14-to-8 in the period and 20-to-16 through the first 40 minutes of regulation.
The Komets looked to pull away early in the final 20 minutes of regulation with a pair of quick goals coming in the first four minutes of action. The first by Cody Sol at 1:33 who secured the loose puck at the blue line and unloaded a blast by Vay to put Fort Wayne up 4-2. Szydlowski tallied his 22nd goal of the season at 3:42 firing top-shelf from the slot to give the Komets a commanding 5-2 edge. It looked as though Fort Wayne would run away with the game at this point but the Rush were not ready to phone-in the final period. Kenton Miller gave Rapid City some life at 6:10 working on a give-and-go with Pavel Jenys was able to secure the goal and cut the game to a 5-3 deficit. That score would hold true until the final minutes of regulation. The captain Riley Weselowski got the Rush back within striking distance at 18:27 throwing the puck from the blue line and by Bartus to make it a 5-4 game. Rapid City pulled Vay for the extra attacker but were never able to secure a solid offensive zone possession to make use of the opportunity. Instead, the Komets sealed the win with a late empty-net goal Sol at 19:53 for the 6-4 final.
The Komets held the narrow edge in shots-on-goal at 31-to-29 and neither team could light the lamp on the power play going a combined 0-for-7 between the two teams.
Garrett Bartus is credited with the win stopping 25-of-29 shots on the night Adam Vay suffers the loss stopping 25-of-30 shots.
Rapid City Rush: The Rush return home for a 3-game series against the Utah Grizzlies. The first game will be on Wednesday with the puck drop scheduled for 10:35 am MST at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Fort Wayne Komets: The Komets take on the Thunder at home for two games Wednesday and Friday before a home-and-home with Quad City Saturday and Sunday.