Darian Romanko scored his first goal of the season, shorthanded, early in the first period, but the Cincinnati Cyclones countered with four unanswered goals to defeat the Rapid City Rush by a 4-1 score on Wednesday night. The game marks the first meeting between both teams in Rapid City, and their third head-to-head matchup in the last four seasons.
The Rush struck first in the contest, but Cincinnati counter-punched twice to take a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Darian Romanko started the scoring entries with his first of the season on the first Rush penalty kill of the game. With 7:36 gone by in the action, Romanko forced a neutral zone turnover on Ben Johnson, and came into the Cyclones zone uncontested from the blue line in. Romanko rifled a shot off the post past Cincinnati goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, giving the Rush a 1-0 lead (the goal was unassisted). In the last minutes of the period, however, Cincinnati struck twice in quick succession and never looked back. With 3:44 left in the first, Mason Mitchell sent the puck up towards the blue line and out of his zone past a stumbling Rush defender. The puck slid to Pascal Aquin, who went uncontested into the Rush zone from his own blue line. Aquin finished with a shot off the bar past Rush net-minder Tyler Parks and squared the game at 1-1 (Mitchell had the lone assist). Exactly 1:37 later, Ben Johnson, in close range of the Rush net, deferred to former Rush forward Jesse Schultz with a backdoor pass. Schultz got enough of the pass to knife it by Parks and give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead with 2:07 left in the first (Johnson and Justin Vaive assisted).
Both teams didn’t exchange goals in the second frame, but Justin Baudry stuck home Cincinnati’s third tally just 31 seconds into the final period. Baudry came off of the blue line down the near wall, powered by a defender, and flipped a backhander over the shoulder of Parks in point-blank range, giving the Cyclones a third unanswered goal and a 3-1 lead (Jesse Schultz and Matthew Spencer assisted). In the final moments, Parks was pulled from his net for an extra attacker, but the Cyclones netted an empty-netter courtesy of Nate Mitton to finish the game with a 4-1 win (Darik Angeli and Scott Dornbrock assisted).
Tyler Parks stopped 28 of 31 shots on net in the defeat (11-6-3-0).
The Rush continue their series against the Cyclones on Friday, January 10th, and Saturday, January 11th. Puck drop for the weekend contests is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT. On January 11th, the Rush will host “Nickelodeon Night”, presented by Black Hills Energy, featuring specialty PAW Patrol themed jerseys. Additionally, the team will celebrate the birthday of our lovable mascot, Nugget, and the first 1,000 fans will have the chance to take home a commemorative Nugget bobble head giveaway, presented by Black Hills Energy.