Stephane Legault recorded the 10th goal of his rookie season to get the Rapid City Rush on the board shy of the midway point in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback as the Idaho Steelheads won 3-1 on Saturday night. The loss keeps the Rush’s magic number at 29 to clinch a Mountain Division playoff spot with 17 games remaining in the season. Additionally, the loss ended a 10-game point streak in Boise, with the last regulation loss in CenturyLink Arena coming on February 15, 2019, and ended an overall 12-game point streak against the Steelheads, with their last regulation loss coming in Rapid City on March 23, 2019.
Idaho struck twice in the last six minutes of the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Jonathan Charbonneau began the scoring entries with his first point as a Steelhead on the first Idaho power play, firing a one-timer from the high slot past Rush net-minder Alex Sakellaropoulos, giving the Steelheads a 1-0 lead with 5:46 left in the first (Jeff King had the lone assist). Just over three and a half minutes later, Kyle Schempp deflected an Ondrej Vala shot off of a faceoff win to double the Steelheads lead to 2-0 with 2:14 remaining in the first (Vala earned the lone assist).
Both rivals exchanged tallies in the second, and Idaho kept their two-goal lead intact heading into the final 20 minutes. Brett Supinski gave Idaho a 3-0 lead 3:37 into the second with a deflection of an Ondrej Vala blue line shot that squeaked by Sakellaropoulos (Vala and Will Merchant assisted). Stephane Legault counterpunched with the 10th goal of his rookie season just under four minutes later to get the Rush on the board. With 7:18 gone by, Keeghan Howdeshell came into the near side of the Idaho zone and rifled a shot that was initially kicked away by Idaho goalie Tomas Sholl. Howdeshell chased his rebound into the corner and fired it in front of the net, where Legault deflected it by Sholl to put the Rush on the board, trailing 3-1 (Howdeshell had the lone assist). That would be the final goal of the game and the only goal scored for the Rush, who couldn’t muster two more goals despite a two-man advantage near the end of regulation. Idaho hung tight for a 3-1 win, their first in regulation against the Rush in almost a full calendar year.
Alex Sakellaropoulos, making his first start since January 26th, stopped 28 of 31 shots in the defeat (4-7-0-0 with the Rush, 6-11-0-0 overall).
The Rush now set their sights to the start of an eight-game home stand, beginning against the Tulsa Oilers in a “three-in-three” series. Puck drop for Friday, February 28th, and Saturday, February 29th, is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT, while Sunday, March 1st, is slated for 4:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Friday’s game is “Nickname Night” presented by Black Hills FOX and KOTA Territory, where the Rush will sport their nicknames on the back of their red jerseys. Saturday is “DC Comics Night” brought to you by the Denny Menholt Auto Group, featuring the Rush wearing specialty Batman-themed jerseys, while the Oilers will sport Joker-themed jerseys.