BOISE, ID — Spencer Pommells and Mikhail Stefanovich each tied the game up for their club, but it was the goaltending of Sam Marotta and the shootout strike by Ryan Walters that pushed the Rapid City Rush above the Idaho Steelheads by a 3-2 score on Saturday night.
Idaho started the scoring entries for a second straight night, also doing so in the opening frame. With 11:37 gone by in the contest, Jake Fallon went on a footrace down the ice, and beat Rush net-minder Sam Marotta with a backhand shot, putting the Steelheads up 1-0 (Damian Cross and Zach Bell earned the assists).
Spencer Pommells evened the score up in the second period for his Rush club just shy of the midway point of the second period. With 9:12 played in the middle act of the performance, Rush captain Winston Day Chief broke up a play on the near side of the neutral zone, getting the puck to Lindsay Sparks in the process. Sparks, from the near corner, found Spencer Pommels between the faceoff circles and set up a one-timer that Pommells finished by Idaho goaltender Branden Komm to square the game at 1-1 (Sparks and Day Chief assisted on the goal).
Moments later, the Steelheads jumped back on top as Joe Basaraba found Zack Kamrass on the blue line from the near corner of the Rush zone. Kamrass unloaded a blast that went by Marotta, lifting his Idaho club to a 2-1 advantage with 6:20 left in the second period (Basaraba and Andrew Carroll were credited with the assists).
Mikhail Stefanovich evened the game up once again on a physical play in front of the Steelheads net, recording his 18th tally of the season. With 11:01 left in the game, Stefanovich came into the Steelheads zone, coming in close range of Komm’s net. He tucked the puck by Komm and in, squaring the game at 2-2 (Sparks earned his second assist on the goal, while Pommells earned his second point of the game with his first helper). Marotta stood tall in the Rush net, staving off a barrage of 8 shots, most coming late in the frame in Steelheads power plays, but maintained the deadlock, forcing overtime after regulation expired.
The Rush outshot the Steelheads 5-0 in the extra session of free hockey, but could not come out with the win in the allotted time, prompting a shootout for the fourth time in the Rush’s season. For a fourth time, the minimum three rounds were not enough to solve a winner for the Rush after Mikhail Stefanovich, Lindsay Sparks, and Spencer Pommells didn’t score for the Rush, and Jefferson Dahl, Jake Fallon, and Joe Basaraba were denied by Marotta. In the top of the fourth round, Damian Cross fanned on his shot, setting Rapid City’s Ryan Walters for a game-winner. Walters fired a wrister under Komm’s blocker, earning the second point for the Rush in a 3-2 shootout win.
Sam Marotta took points for the fourth time in his last five outings, stopping 26 of 28 Steelheads shots (6-11-2).
The Rush travel to Anchorage to play the Alaska Aces not only for the final time this season, but to close out the road portion of their season. Puck drop for Thursday, March 24th is slated for 9:15 p.m. MST.
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