Ryan Tesink provided the game-winning goal on a shorthanded chance to help propel the Tulsa Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Rapid City Rush on Sunday. The Oilers, with wins today and Friday, win the weekend series against the Rush and reclaim fourth place in the Mountain Division. The Rush now trail the final playoff spot by one point, despite having three games-in-hand on the Oilers with 14 games remaining in the season.
For a third straight game, and a fifth out of their last six, the Rush provided the first goal of the contest. Just 1:57 into the action, Darian Romanko deflected a Keeghan Howdeshell shot past Oilers goalie Devin Williams, giving the Rush an early 1-0 lead (Howdeshell and Dane Birks assisted).
Tulsa then struck back quickly in the start of a second period that saw both rivals trade blows back and forth. On the second Rush power play of the game, Ian McNulty pick up a Rush turnover at the top of his zone, and raced down the ice uncontested towards the Rush net. He rifled a shot past Rush net-minder Alex Sakellaropoulos, squaring the game at 1-1 just 95 seconds into the second (the goal was unassisted). Exactly 2:08 later, Charlie Sampair entered the Rush zone with speed down the far wall, came in close range of the Rush net, and tucked the puck behind Sakellaropoulos to give the Oilers their first lead of the game at 2-1 with 3:43 played in the second (Miles Liberati and Hunter Drew assisted). Not to be outdone, Brennan Saulnier counterpunched with his own display of speed with a highlight reel tally. Saulnier blitzed into the Oilers zone, pulled off a “spin-o-rama” past an Oilers defender, and slipped the puck past Williams to even the game at 2-2 at 6:37 of the second (Tanner Karty and Dante Salituro assisted). Exactly 1:20 later, Garrett Milan forked the puck by a defender in the neutral zone, and came through a free lane into the Oilers zone. Instead of shooting, Milan elected to pass to an oncoming Ryker Killins, who buried his shot to put the Rush back on top 3-2 at 7:57 of the second (Milan had the lone assist). However, exactly five minutes later, Tulsa answered in four-on-four hockey with Danny Moynihan, who from the slot area fired a backhander over Sakellaropoulos to square the game at 3-3 with 7:03 left in the second (Ian McNulty and Miles Liberati assisted).
Tulsa struck again shorthanded, and used the momentum to catapult themselves to the win. With 5:51 gone by in the third, Ryker Killins turned the puck over in close range to Tesink, who rifled a quick shot through the five-hole of Sakellaropoulos to push Tulsa over the edge with a 4-3 lead (the goal was unassisted). Looking for insurance while holding off the Rush, J.J. Piccinich deflected a Steve Kaunisto blue line shot with 5:40 left in the game to extend the lead for Tulsa to 5-3 (Kaunisto and Danny Moynihan assisted). Moynihan put the nail in the coffin with the empty-netter with 69 seconds left to give Tulsa the win and the series by a final score of 6-3.
Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped 44 of 49 shots in the defeat (4-8-0-0 with the Rush, 6-12-0-0 overall).
The Rush continue their eight-game home stand with a pair of matchups against the Utah Grizzlies on Friday, March 6th, and Saturday, March 7th. Puck drop for both showdowns is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Saturday’s game is our Fifth Annual “Princess Night”, presented by ImageALL. The team will theme the evening around Frozen, coincidentally the theme of the first-ever “Princess Night” five years ago. As in previous seasons, “Princess Night” will feature a youth jersey giveaway sponsored by Coca-Cola Bottling Company High Country. Additionally, Anna and Elsa will be in attendance along with other princesses! Get your tickets HERE.