Tyler Coulter notched a pair of goals, Tyler Poulsen and Dexter Dancs each added a pair of points, and Tyler Parks stopped 31 shots as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Wichita Thunder by a 4-3 score on Friday night. The win ends the Rush’s losing streak at 6 games, and pushes them into a tie for third in the Mountain Division with the Utah Grizzlies at 35 points.
For the first time since December 11th against Wheeling, the Rush provided the first goal, and used that momentum to mount a 16-8 shot assault on the Thunder, leaving with a 2-0 lead. Scoring started from Tyler Coulter, who began the scoring play entering on a two-on-one break with Peter Quenneville into the Thunder zone. Even though the rush didn’t directly result in the goal, it set up the shift that saw Coulter slam it home. With 5:57 gone by in the game, Coulter finished a shift down low with a backhand shot that beat Wichita goalie Mitch Gillam by his blocker, and gave the Rush an early 1-0 lead (Darian Romanko and Myles McGurty assisted). Moments later, Tyler Poulsen doubled the Rush advantage after taking a lead pass into Wichita territory from Keeghan Howdeshell. With options while streaking towards the Thunder net, Poulsen elected to fire a shot, and rifled it under the glove of Gillam to vault the Rush to a 2-0 lead at 12:34 of the first (Howdeshell and Dexter Dancs assisted).
Coulter added to the Rush lead with his second of the contest and started a stretch of 1:02 in which the team struck twice in quick succession. In I-formation up the far wall of the Thunder zone, Coulter dropped back to Poulsen, who quickly threaded it back to Coulter around a defender. With 5:40 played in the second, Coulter maneuvered towards the slot and buried his shot by Gillam to triple the Rush lead to 3-0 (Poulsen and Dancs assisted). Exactly 62 seconds later, Stephane Legault chipped the puck up through neutral ice and found Matteo Gennaro entering Wichita’s third. Gennaro, from the near corner, fired a back-door pass to Peter Quenneville, and the Captain slammed home his shot to give the Rush a 4-0 lead at 6:42 of the frame (Gennaro and Legault assisted). The goal resulted in the substitution of Gillam in net after 26:33, and Evan Weninger took over in relief, stopping all 15 shots he saw in 30:52.
Following the goalie change, Wichita strung together three unanswered goals, beginning with Cameron Hebig at 10:03. After the Rush killed a penalty off, Hebig came down the near side of the Rush zone with room to operate and fired a shot that just squeaked by the outstretched leg pad of Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, cutting the lead to 4-1 (Jason Salvaggio and Vincent Desharnais assisted).
Beau Starrett kept the rally going in the second period, once again following a successful Rush penalty kill. With 11:20 left in the game, Starrett, from the near side of the Rush zone rifled a shot past Parks’ blocker and inside the far post, slashing the deficit to 4-2 (Patrik Parkkonen assisted). With Weninger pulled for the extra attacker late, Wichita came within striking distance when Stefan Fournier deflected a Parkkonen blue line shot, skipping it by Parks to make things interesting late, trailing 4-3 with 32.1 seconds remaining (Starrett and Parkkonen assisted). The Rush held on in the last half a minute and took the win by a final of 4-3, ending their losing streak at 6 games.
Tyler Parks, making his first start since his first career AHL call-up, stopped 31 of 34 shots in the win (9-4-3-0).
The Rush conclude their two-game set tomorrow, Saturday, December 28th against the Wichita Thunder. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Tickets for all remaining Rush games are on sale now! Visit www.rapidcityrush.com to purchase yours today!