LOVELAND, CO — A lackluster opening period put the Rapid City Rush behind the 8-ball as they fell to the Colorado Eagles on the road 4-1 Friday night.
The defending champs lit the lamp first on the night, coming on the man advantage for a roughing penalty to Josh Elmes at 12:11. Joey Ratelle settled a cross-ice pass and fired the puck by Rush netminder Adam Vay with 6:19 remaining in the period to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. The Rush showed little offensive prowess as they only managed to register one shot on goal to Colorado’s 19 in the opening 20 minutes of action.
The intensity seemed to even out in the middle frame but only Colorado was able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities, pocketing a pair of goals to widen their lead. The first came at 5:33 of the frame when Gage Ausmus fired a wrister by a screened Adam Vey to double the Eagle’s advantage. The second tally of the period came with 4:09 remaining when Ryan Harrison rifled the puck top shelf to put the Eagles up 3-0 and prompted the Rush to make a goalie change. Christian Frey would take his place between the pipes at the 15:51 mark of the middle frame.
Frey would hold strong for the remainder of the period and deep into the final frame, doing everything he could to give his club the chances to cut into the Eagles’ lead. Matt Garbowsky had other plans, however, when he found his mark going top shelf to give Colorado a 4-0 lead at 15:27 of the final frame. The Rush were able to eliminate the goose egg with 2:20 left in the contest. Marcus Ortiz was able to tally a goal on the powerplay to prevent the shutout and add one small glimmer of sunshine to an otherwise rough night for the Boys from the Black Hills.
The final minute of regulation did see a handful of scrums break out, most of which resulted in two-minute minor infractions. Jimmy DeVito and Joey Ratelle did get into a good altercation and were both awarded five-minute majors at the 19:55 mark.
Sam Brittain is credited with the win for the Eagles, nearly getting the shutout as he stopped 19-of-20 shots on the night. Adam Vay takes the loss stopping 25-of-28 shots and Christian Frey stopped 8-of-9 shots in relief.
The Eagles now hold an 8-to-6 point advantage over the Rush in the Crystal Cup series and will look to sweep the weekend series with the final game of the weekend tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm MT at the Budweiser Events Center.