It was a nightmare open to the season for the Rush Friday night, as they fell to the Allen Americans 8-3.
Although Saturday was closer, the Americans didn’t let up as they started the season with a sweep of Rapid City and a 5-3 win.
"We handed them everything they got," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. "They're a good team, they know how to put the puck in the net, but I thought we outworked them and outplayed for most of the game. The effort was there, it's just the mental, costly dangerous mistakes that are costing us, especially tonight."
After allowing 13 goals to Allen over a two-game stretch, Tetrault said he needs to see more out of his defense moving forward.
"My defense has to play a lot better. They're forcing the issue, they're trying too hard. They have to play defense," he said. "They're making costly mistakes, and we have to clean up on the back end, definitely."
It was another fast start for Rapid City, as it was able to take advantage of an early power-play opportunity, when Gustav Bouramman found Alex Guptill for the goal only 3:36 into the game.
Allen would answer right back when Zach Pochiro (who scored two goals in Friday night’s game) was able to get a shot by Christian Frey 5:03 into the period.
The Americans would take their first lead with 10:15 left in the period when Dalton Thrower went top shelf on an assist from Oliver Archambault. Just over two minutes later, it was Archambault who found the back of the net on an assist from Pochiro.
At the end of the first, Allen led 3-1.
Rapid City had plenty of chances in the first period, tying Allen in shots at 12 apiece, but goalie Riley Gill was great in net, stopping multiple point blank chances.
The Rush got off to a fast start in the second period.
A goal 30 seconds into the period from Kenton Miller, on an assist from Guptill, cut the Allen lead to one, and another Anthony Collins fight got the crowd on its feet, and the rest of the team pumped up for the second night in a row.
"On Friday night I wanted to get the boys into it and get the crowd into it early, but the second fight today was just sticking up for a teammate," Collins said. "I saw Krommer (Alex Kromm) kind of take a cheap shot into the boards and I wanted to let him know that I had his back. All year I'll do that for any one of these guys."
After the fight, Collins skated to the penalty box proudly sporting a cut on his face that would require stitches after the game, and telling the crowd to get on its feet.
Collins said he doesn't plan those reactions, they just happen.
"A lot of people don't look at it, but a fight can really change the momentum of a game, and really change the tides of the game and get the guys going," he said. "It's just the emotion of the game. It's exciting, things happen fast out there and if I can get the crowd on its feet and gets the boys going from hearing the crowd roar then I'm all for it."
Allen would get some of that momentum 10:34 into the period with a goal from Brian Moore on an assist from Spencer Asuchuk to make it 4-2.
After Friday night’s loss, Tetrault praised the effort of Marcus Ortiz. With six minutes left in the second period, Ortiz’s efforts were rewarded with a goal off a rebound to get the Rush back to within one goal.
The second period ended with the score 4-3 in the favor of Allen, but the Rush outshot the Americans 15-10 in the period.
The third period began with a goal from Allen, when a loose puck was knocked around in the crease by both Rush and American players until Archambault was able to knock the puck by Frey 51 seconds in.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Eric Roy were given credit for the assists.
Allen ended with the shots advantage 37-34.
Tetrault said the mistakes from the weekend are correctable, and he's confident that the Rush will be able to bounce back from a disappointing first weekend.
"We need to teach, they need to learn from it and let the game come to them," he said. "My boys never quit. We were down by two a lot tonight and we always made it a one goal game, we never quit. It was costly mistakes that cost us but we outplayed them, they were gassed.
"This is a top team in the league we're playing against. We have four returning guys only, I have all new guys. I have a depleted lineup. We're going to get together, we're going to clean this thing up and we're going to start winning hockey games. We believe in these guys, the effort is there."
Rapid City (0-2-0) will travel to take on the Wichita Thunder for a Saturday and Sunday series. Allen (2-0-0) will host the Orlando Solar Bears in their home opener Saturday.
The Americans won’t be back in Rapid City until March 14.