Peter Quenneville scored the first four goals for the Rapid City Rush to tie a single-game franchise record, and aided by Brennan Saulnier’s four-point night and Alex Sakellaropoulos’ 32 saves, powered the Rush to a 5-2 win against the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday night. The win forces a rubber match in the three-game series finale tomorrow night.
The Rush struck first for a fourth game in a row, and carried a 2-1 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. Peter Quenneville and Brennan Saulnier started off their electric nights 2:26 into the contest. Saulnier wrapped around Cincinnati’s net, but instead of finishing with a shot, he found Quenneville streaking off the bench right down the center lane. Saulnier deferred, and the Captain rifled a shot by an outstretched Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the Cyclones net to give the Rush an early 1-0 lead (Saulnier and Charles-David Beaudoin had the assists). Cincinnati counterpunched exactly 44 seconds later, with Jesse Schultz doing the honors for a second game in a row. In similar fashion to Quenneville, Brady Vail, from behind the Rush net, found Schultz between the hashmark. He finished with a shot past Rush net-minder Alex Sakellaropoulos to square the game at 1-1 (Vail and Tobie Bisson assisted). Quenneville’s second came on the first Rush power play of the game, and gave the Rush the advantage after the first period concluded. As the Rush entered the Cincinnati zone, a cross-ice pass was made to Tyler Coulter, who tapped it for an oncoming Quenneville. The Rush Captain blasted his shot off the post and past Luukkonen to give the Rush a 2-1 lead (Coulter and Saulnier assisted).
Quenneville completed his hat trick at 2:48 of the second period, completing the second-fastest hat trick in Rush history from opening puck drop to the third goal scored. Saulnier forced a turnover on the near side of the Cyclones goal, and left it for the oncoming Quenneville. Quennville snuck it under the blocker of Luukkonen, and pushed the Rush to a 3-1 lead (Saulnier had the lone assist).
Darik Angeli, once a Rush forward two seasons ago, brought the Cyclones back within striking distance on a brilliant individual effort following a turnover in neutral ice. With 13:16 left in the game, Angeli maneuvered behind the Rush defense, faked forehand, and finished with a backhander past Sakellaropoulos to make it a 3-2 hockey game (the goal was unassisted). The Rush Captain then took over once more, putting the game out of reach of his former club. Quenneville tied the Rush single-game record with his fourth goal with 9:46 remaining. In the midst of four-on-four hockey after Darian Romanko won a draw cleanly to Charles-David Beaudoin, Quenneville carried the puck coast to coast, and snapped off a shot from the high slot past Luukkonen, re-establishing the two-goal lead at 4-2 (Beaudoin and Romanko assisted). Brennan Saulnier added the exclamation point with a near 200-foot empty-net goal with 2:19 remaining in the game to bring the final score to 5-2 (Quenneville and Eric Israel assisted).
Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory, his second win with the Rush in as many starts (2-3-0-0 with the Rush, 4-7-0-0 total).
The Rush conclude their series against the Cyclones tomorrow on Saturday, January 11th. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. 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.
Tickets for all remaining Rush games are on sale now! Visit www.rapidcityrush.com to purchase yours today!