RAPID CITY, SD — Lindsay Sparks scored twice and Winston Day Chief provided the game-winner late in the second period along with an assist as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Wichita Thunder by a 4-2 score on Saturday night.
Lindsay Sparks began his stellar evening by opening up the scoring entries in the contest. With 4:56 played in the first period, Sparks received a pass from Spencer Pommells and finished a strong individual effort towards the net, sending the puck by Wichita goaltender David Shantz to put the Rush up 1-0. Moments later, Wichita was awarded a five-on-three power play, and Kenton Miller finished a back-door pass from Landon Oslanski by Rush netminder Danny Battochio to even the game at one, with 7:22 gone by in the first.
Within the first minute and a half of play in the second period, Wichita took a 2-1 lead thanks to Dominic Alberga’s wrist shot from between the face-off circles at the 1:24 mark of the frame. Michael Neal and Ian Lowe registered the assists on Alberga’s eighth of the year.
The lead would last until just over the half-way point of the period, when Lindsay Sparks ignited the goal lamp for a second time in the contest, and for the first time on the Rush power play in the game. With 7:26 left in the second, Mikhail Stefanovich threaded the puck up to Sparks in neutral ice and sprung Sparks on an opportunity into the Wichita zone. Sparks settled the puck skate-to-stick and slipped it by Shantz to tie the game at 2.
The Rush power play continued to heat up with Winston Day Chief providing what would eventually be the game-winning goal with seconds to play in the period. With 2.3 seconds remaining in the second, Day Chief came out of a mad scramble in front of the net with the puck and shot it in off the back bar of Shantz’s net, pushing the Rush ahead to a 3-2 lead.
Mark Miller salted the game away for the Rush, extending his personal stat streaks in the process. Ryan Walters found the rookie in neutral ice with 77 seconds left in the game, and he deposited the puck into the yawning Wichita net. With the goal, Miller tied the Rush record for a rookie goal-scoring streak at four games and extended his point streak to five games as well in the process.
Danny Battochio earned the win, stopping 27 of 29 shots (20-18-4). With the win, Battochio earns the fourth 20-win season of his career, and also ensures that Head Coach Mark DeSantis will maintain a winning record in each of his three seasons as a bench boss in professional hockey.
The Rush stay at home and finish their season series with the Idaho Steelheads on Tuesday, April 5th. Puck drop at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is slated for 6:35 p.m. MST.