Giovanni Fiore buried the game-winning goal with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to give the Rapid City Rush a 4-3 win over the Idaho Steelheads on Friday night. The win puts the Rush in a share of first place in the ECHL with the Reading Royals, and, by beating the buzzer, steals a valuable point from their Mountain Division rivals in the standings.
The first period ended with a 1-0 score for a second game in a row, but it was Idaho that provided the lone tally in the opening 20 minutes. Just 3:53 into the action, the puck was turned over on the far wall of the Rush zone and came to Marc-Olivier Roy. One of the ECHL’s assist leaders, Roy found Spencer Naas between the hashmarks, who fired a shot past Rush net-minder Tyler Parks to give the Steelheads a 1-0 lead (Roy and Anthony Nellis assisted).
The second period was more back-and-forth, with each team trading blows heading into the final period. Idaho doubled their lead at 7:39 when Eric Sweetman fired a blue line shot that was initially stopped by Parks in the Rush zone. The rebound came to Roy, who tucked it by an outstretched Parks with a backhand to extend the Steelheads lead to 2-0 (Sweetman and Nellis assisted). The Rush counterpunched with their first goal of the game, and it was Stephane Legault chipping in for a second straight game. With 8:26 remaining in the second period, Brandon Fehd rifled a shot from the blue line that was stopped by Steelheads goalie Colton Point, and Brennan Saulnier was in the area code hacking viciously at the rebound. With Point down attempting to stop it, Saulnier handed off to Legault, who buried the puck into an open net to get the Rush on the board, trailing 2-1 (Saulnier and Fehd assisted). Idaho countered right back on the first power play of the game, thanks to Zack Andrusiak in the final minutes of the period. With 1:52 left in the period, Andrusiak took a Colton Saucerman pass on the far wall and fired a laser past Parks, bringing the Steelheads lead to 3-1 (Saucerman and A.J. White had the assists).
The Rush mounted a comeback in the final period and scored three unanswered goals, including one with barely anytime left. Giovanni Fiore started off the rally with his first goal in nine games, deflecting a Myles McGurty blue line shot past Point to bring the Rush within one at 3-2 with 13:09 left in the game (McGurty and Peter Quenneville assisted). Quenneville then added his name to the goal column in similar fashion to tie the game up. With 8:54 left in the game, Quenneville deflected a Brandon Fehd blue line shot past Point, igniting the goal lamp for a seventh consecutive game to square the contest at 3-3 (Fehd had the lone assist).
Then, the dramatics set in.
With 63 seconds remaining in the game, Jeff King upended and tripped Brennan Saulnier in the offensive zone, putting the Rush on their third and final power play of the game. With 10 seconds left, the Rush had a feverish exchange of chances in front of Point’s net. After Tyler Coulter was denied, Stephane Legault took the rebound behind the net, and found Fiore with time to rip off one last shot. Fiore fired the puck home with 1.2 seconds left in regulation, securing the win by a 4-3 final score, and denying the Steelheads of a crucial point in the standings.
Tyler Parks set a career-high with six wins in a single season at the ECHL level tonight, stopping 27 of 30 shots for his sixth victory (6-1-3-0).
The Rush conclude their three-game series against the Idaho Steelheads tomorrow, November 30th. Puck drop at CenturyLink Arena is slated for 7:10 p.m. MDT.