RAPID CITY, SD — It was bound to happen and it couldn’t have come at a better time to a more worthy opponent. The Rapid City Rush earned their first win of the season Saturday night, toppling their rivals, the undefeated and defending Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles at home Saturday night.
The Rush continued the same level of intensity that carried them to the end of regulation in the contest Friday night, allowing them to score the night’s first goal for the second time this season. Jimmy DeVito tallied his first of the season when he slammed home a rebound off a shot from Matt Caito just 1:47 into the contest. Colorado answered less than 90 seconds later when Nolan De Jong snagged the puck in the Rush zone, feeding it to Michael Joly, who fired a backhand shot over Rush netminder Steve Michalek to square the contest at 3:09. It wasn’t long before the Rush answered back with a pair of goals to regain and extend their lead. The first came at 4:04 when Dante Salituro buried a one-timer past Eagles netminder Lukas Hafner to put the Rush back on top 2-1. Just 42 seconds later, the Rush found themselves on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Alex Guptill dishing the puck to DeVito at the last second, who eased the puck by Hafner to give the Rush a 3-1 lead with 15:14 left to play in the opening period. The Eagles pulled Hafner at this point, bringing in Sam Brittain to stand guard between the pipes for the remainder of the game. The Eagles were able to cut the Rush lead in half at 12:42 when Drayson Bowman stuffed the loose puck in the low slot past Michalek. The ECHL stats sheet give credit to the goal to Joly as it may have gone off his body.
The Rush held on to their 3-2 edge heading into the 1st intermission, despite being out-shot 9-4 in the opening 20 minutes of play. Michalek and the Rush defense took over in the middle frame as they shut down all 11 Eagle shots despite managing only one shot on goal themselves, but preserved the 3-2 advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
The offensive intensity picked up for the Boys from the Black Hills in the 3rd period as Rapid City peppered the Eagles net 16 times while allowing the Eagles only a pair of shots on goal. Rapid City’s intensity was rewarded at 4:01 when Guptill tallied his second goal of the season and third point on the night when he slid the puck by Brittain to put the Rush on top 4-2. Colorado answered back with 9:01 left in the game when Jesse Mychan tapped in the loose puck making it a 4-3 contest, but the Eagles couldn’t get any closer even with an extra attacker in the final 1:11 of the game.
Steve Michalek is credited with the win stopping 19 of 22 shots on the night. The Eagles tandem of Lukas Hafner (0 of 3) and Sam Brittain (17 of 18) stopped a combined 17 of 21 shots on the night.
The win gives the Rush their first two points of the season and splits the Crystal Cup series with the Eagles. For Colorado, the loss knocks them from the ranks of the unbeaten with the Reading Royals, South Carolina Stingrays, and Wichita Thunder still holding goose-eggs in the loss column.
Rapid City next hosts the Brampton Beasts on Wednesday, November 1st, at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT.
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