The Wheeling Nailers and Rapid City Rush exchanged goals within a minute on three different occasions throughout the course of the contest, with the Nailers using the last exchange to get past the Rush late en route to a 4-3 win on Wednesday night. The game marked the first-ever meeting between the Nailers and Rush, while the loss marks back-to-back home defeats for Rapid City.
It took only 67 seconds in the first-ever meeting between both teams to see some fireworks, but it would be all they had offensively for the first 40 minutes. Exactly 45 seconds into the game, Keeghan Howdeshell completed a lap around the Wheeling zone and wrapped around the Nailers net. In doing so, he pulled Wheeling goalie Jordan Ruby out of position and flung the puck to the blue line for Chris Leibinger. With virtually an open net, Leibinger fired a shot from the blue line to put the Rush up 1-0 (Howdeshell and Kevin Hancock assisted). Exactly 22 seconds later, however, Wheeling tied it on a break down the ice. At 1:07, Alec Butcher fired a shot from the near circle in the Rush zone that squeaked through the five-hole of Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, squaring the game at 1-1 (Brandon Hawkins and Justin Almeida assisted).
The final 20 minutes pulled a page out of the first period, this time with two exchanges of goals within a span of 60 seconds. The Nailers broke the deadlock at 8:19 of the final period when Blake Siebenhaler trailed into the Rush zone, finishing a great Wheeling passing sequence with a shot from between the hashmarks by Parks, pushing the visitors to a 2-1 lead (Nick Saracino and Yushiroh Hirano assisted). Exactly 42 seconds, however, Tyler Poulsen evened it back up after the Rush kept the puck in the Wheeling zone. Poulsen took the puck, maneuvered towards the hashmarks, and slipped it by Ruby’s outstretched leg to square the game at 2-2 (Dexter Dancs and Chris Leibinger assisted). Christopher Brown took back the lead for the Nailers after the midway mark of the period, cashing in on a loose puck in close range. With 8:56 left in the game, a shot was fired on Tyler Parks that bounced off of his glove and landed in front of the crease. Brown sent it into the open net to give Wheeling the 3-2 lead (Ryan Scarfo and Renars Krastenbergs assisted). Down, but not, out, Trey Phillips equalized the game for a third time within the final minutes of the contest. With 2:40 left in the game, Phillips trailed in on a scramble in front of the Wheeling net, and slipped it by a diving Ruby to square the game back at 3-3 (Peter Quenneville and Giovanni Fiore assisted). However, 36 seconds later, the Nailers Captain put the final nail on the scoreboard. Nick Saracino wrapped around the Rush net to find a loose puck at Parks’ glove side, and slipped it in the net with 2:04 left. The initial call on the ice was no goal, but after official review, the call was reversed and Wheeling got their eventual game-winning goal (Cam Brown assisted). In the last two minutes, the Rush pulled Parks for the extra attacker, and also gained another man-advantage due to a late boarding minor. Despite the two-man advantage for over 90 seconds, Ruby and the Nailers held on to defeat the Rush by a 4-3 final.
Tyler Parks stopped 37 of 41 shots on net, suffering just his third regulation defeat of the season (8-3-3-0).
The Rush continue their five-game homestand on Friday, December 13th, in their second matchup of the week against the Wheeling Nailers. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. The Force will be strong with all of us on Friday, December 13th, in a fun night of music, blasters, and old Jedi masters on our “Star Wars Night”! Get your tickets for the Rush rebellion against the Imperials from Wheeling HERE.