Tyler Poulsen and Brennan Saulnier connected 2:19 apart in the first period to give the Rapid City Rush an early 2-0 lead, but the Idaho Steelheads slowly chipped away and scored three unanswered goals, including Brett Supinski’s game-winner 2:28 into overtime to give Idaho a 3-2 win on Friday night. The overtime loss gives the Rush a crucial point in the standings, maintaining 4th in the Mountain Division with 52 points while trailing Idaho and the Utah Grizzlies, who are currently tied for 2nd at 57.
The Rush struck twice in the opening frame against the Steelheads and took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. Tyler Poulsen started the scoring entries at 14:30 of the first period, finishing a sequence started by Brennan Saulnier. Saulnier, while tied up, flung the puck to the blue line, where it was contained by Jalen Smereck. Smereck fired the puck down intentionally wide to hit Poulsen, who deflected the puck off of Idaho goalie Tomas Sholl and in, giving the Rush an early 1-0 lead (Smereck and Saulnier assisted). Saulnier then found himself on the opposite side of the scoresheet, finishing an effort started by Cedric Montminy to double the Rush lead. Exactly 2:19 later, with 3:11 left in the first, Montminy forced a neutral zone turnover, and went in on net for an attempt on Sholl. His first two attempts we denied, but Saulnier cleaned up the garbage and poked the puck through Sholl’s legs, giving the Rush a 2-0 lead after one period (Montminy had the lone assist).
Idaho countered with the only goal of the second period to cut the Rush lead after 40 minutes of play. With 5:08 left in the second, Steelheads Captain A.J. White caught a shot that was deflected towards the net, settled it down from his glove in front of him, and banged the puck by an out-stretched Gordon Defiel in the Rush net, halving the Rush lead to 2-1 (Brett Supinski and Will Merchant assisted).
The Steelheads once again provided the only goal of the next frame, striking less than three minutes into the period. Jalen Smereck was guilty of a slashing that cut the remainder of a double-minor Rush power play, and gave the Steelheads their third one of the game. With just seconds remaining on that power play, and 2:58 gone by in the third, Marc-Olivier Roy navigated traffic and feathered a pass to Brady Norrish, with the 2020 ECHL All-Star firing a shot by Defiel to square the game at 2-2 (Roy and Anthony Nellis assisted). Both teams traded grade-A scoring chances, but couldn’t hit pay dirt, leading the division rivals to overtime.
Brett Supinski won the game for the Steelheads 2:28 into overtime. After his breakaway attempt was denied by Defiel, Supinski fired the puck from behind the net, off of Defiel’s back, and in, winning the game for Idaho by a 3-2 score (Brady Norrish and Colton Saucerman assisted).
Gordon Defiel, making his second start with the Rush, suffered the overtime defeat after stopping 40 of 43 shots on net (1-2-1-0 total, 1-0-1-0 with the Rush).
The Rush conclude their pair of games against the Mountain Division rival Idaho Steelheads tomorrow, February 1st. Puck is slated for 7:10 p.m. MDT at CenturyLink Arena