RAPID CITY, SD — The Rapid City Rush jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st period only to see the visiting Wichita Thunder chip away at the scoreboard before taking the weekend’s first game 3-2 in overtime on Friday night.
It was a night filled with fanfare and intensity as the Rush hosted their annual Scout Night coupled with their first ever Star Wars Night with fans and Scouts coming out in droves to enjoy the spectacle, which included a costume contest and lightsaber drumline battle between Central HS and Stevens HS.
Rapid City did not disappoint from the first drop of the puck.
Ryan Walters was called for hooking at 9:07 of the opening frame. On the ensuing penalty kill Brett Perlini snagged the puck in neutral ice and drove toward the net blasting the puck by Thunder netminder Drew Owsley for the 1-0 lead at 10:04. The shorthanded goal was the third on the season for Rapid City.
The Rush would double their lead minutes later in the 1st period when Lindsey Sparks was brought down from behind and awarded a penalty shot at 16:56. He was able to snipe a wrister top-shelf to send the crowd to their feet in excitement.
Rapid City outshot the visiting Thunder 14-to-5 in the opening frame. The dominance would taper off over the final 40 minutes.
Wichita came out fired up in the middle frame and continued to pressure the net. It paid off at 6:54 when Vincent Dunn fired a hard shot at the net that squeaked by Rush netminder Austin Lotz to pull the Thunder within 2-1.
Rapid City had a goal waived off later in the period that would have put them back up 3-1 but it was waived off because referee indicated he was going to blow the play dead because he lost sight of the puck prior to it crossing the line.
Late in the final frame, the Thunder were able to tie the game up at 13:41 when Alexis Loiseau fired a shot through a screen that made its way by Lotz’s glove.
Neither team was able to gain the edge in the remainder of regulation sending the Rush to overtime yet again.
At the 2:09 mark of extra time it was James Melindy that would get the game-winner, his second goal of the season, when he slid the loose puck by Lotz causing the Thunder bench to erupt in celebration. The win ended their five-game losing streak.
The overtime loss still allows the Rush to keep their point streak alive, which stands at eight games. They are 5-0-3 in that stretch.
Drew Owsley takes the win for the Thunder, stopping 27-of-29 attempts on net while Austin Lotz takes the loss stopping 28-of-31 attempts.
Both teams will square off again tonight at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for the 9th Annual Teddy Bear Toss. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT.