Ryker Killins put an exclamation point on a deadly power play for the Rapid City Rush, scoring 5:13 into overtime to lead the club to a 3/8 showing on the man-advantage and a 4-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Friday night. The win kicked off the team’s annual “Military Appreciation Weekend”, and the first of three games against the Thunder in three days.
The Rush capitalized on special teams early in the contest, setting a trend throughout the evening. Tyler Poulsen provided the only goal of the first 20 minutes on the second Rush power play of the game. With 4:31 left in the first, Myles McGurty, parallel with the goal line, threaded a flawless pass through traffic to Poulsen, setting him up for a one-timer past Wichita goalie Mitch Gillam to give the Rush an early 1-0 lead (McGurty and Stephane Legault assisted).
Eric Israel came into tonight’s game with zero goals as a professional in 33 games with the Rush this season, but that all changed for him in an instant in the second period. With 3:47 gone by in the second, Tyler Poulsen fed Israel a cross-ice pass down low, with the latter slamming home the backdoor pass off the post and by Gillam to put the Rush up 2-0 with the first of his career (Poulsen and Darian Romanko assisted). Wichita countered moments later as Beau Starrett deflected a blue line shot from Garrett Schmitz right in front of Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, cutting the Rush lead to 2-1 (Schmitz and Peter Crinella assisted). Over the midway point of the second, the Rush struck for a second time on the power play, courtesy of Jalen Smereck. Just past the midway mark of regulation with 8:29 left in the second, Smereck launched a wrist shot from the far side of the blue line in the Thunder zone. The shot got through and deflected off of a Thunder defender and in, re-establishing the two-goal lead to 3-1 (Keeghan Howdeshell and Cedric Montminy assisted).
Wichita came back in the third period, beginning with Peter Crinella’s net-front deflection midway through the frame. With 8:50 left in the game, Crinella deflected a Riley Weselowski shot past Parks to bring the Thunder in striking distance, trailing 3-2 (Weselowski and Vincent Desharnais assisted). With Gillam pulled for the extra skater in the final moments, Beau Starrett completed the comeback with 0.6 seconds remaining, banking a loose puck past Parks to give Wichita at least a point in the standings and force overtime, all square at 3-3 (Ostap Safin and Jason Salvaggio assisted).
In overtime, the Rush went to the power play for an eighth time due to Fabrizio Ricci’s hooking minor at 3:19 of the extra session. Ryker Killins, with his third goal in the last five games, ended the contest with a one-time shot from an Eric Israel pass, beating Gillam and the Thunder for the 4-3 overtime win (Israel and Stephane Legault assisted).
Tyler Parks, in his first game back since his AHL call-up to the Tucson Roadrunners, stopped 36 of 39 shots in the win (12-6-3-0).
The Rush continue their “three-in-three” series against the Wichita Thunder tomorrow, January 25th. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Both team’s will conclude the series on Sunday, January 26th, with puck drop slated for 4:05 p.m. MDT. Tomorrow continues our annual “Military Appreciation Weekend”, presented by Ebelution Heating and Cooling and Liberty Superstores, in which we pay homage to those who have served, and continue to serve, in the United States Armed Forces. The team’s specialty military themed jerseys, sponsored by Ebelution Heating and Cooling, will be auctioned off following the contest tomorrow night.