The Quad City Mallards helped punch Rapid City’s ticket to the Central Hockey League playoffs, but the Tulsa Oilers continue to frustrate the Rush.
The Oilers may be out of the playoff picture, but have had no problem playing havoc with their third win in three matchups with the Rush this season.
Michel Beausoleil scored twice, Ryan Cramer and Ryan Menei added goals, and Shane Madolora made 37 saves as the Oilers picked up only their eighth road win of the season with a 4-2 decision Friday night.
Jordan Behler and Rusty Masters scored for Rapid City.
“They don’t care that we’re in the playoffs. They want to be the spoilers and work hard and win every game they can,” Rush head coach Joe Ferras said.
Quad City’s 5-3 victory over ninth-place Bloomington Friday night clinched Rapid City’s post-season berth but the Rush, 32-24-6, need to hold on to fourth in the Berry Conference standings to claim home-ice advantage in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, set to start at the end of March.
Beausoleil’s two goals bookended Masters’ shorthanded tally after Behler had given the Rush the first period lead.
“The first period we really could have gotten down on ourselves. They outshot us and outplayed us, but after that we played extremely well. Even after that shorthanded goal, we came right back,” Oilers head coach Bruce Ramsay said.
Cramer’s goal, Tulsa’s third in the period on 14 total shots, chased Rush starter Danny Battochio.
“They’re an opportunistic hockey club. Their guys score when they get chances,” Ferras said. “They don’t need nine chances to score. You give them three chances and they’re going to score twice.”
Tim Boron stopped 16 of 16 shots in relief. Menei’s clincher found an empty net with Boron sitting for the extra attacker.
Madolora, a call-up from Fayetteville of the Southern Professional Hockey League, improved to 14-15-2.
"It’s gratifying. It’s difficult for us right now because we don’t have a lot to play for, so a lot of it is personal pride, being a professional and working hard,” Ramsay said.
The Oilers skated without two of their top three scorers in Ben Gordon 26 goals, 40 assists) and Gary Steffes (20 goals, 14 assists), both out with injuries.
The second of a three-game series with Tulsa, 22-35-4, is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the civic center ice arena.
Notes: Rapid City’s Romeo Vivit was named winner of the CHL’s Gunner Garrett equipment manager of the year award for the third straight year on Friday.
Vivit and Rush trainer Bobby Moore teamed to win top honors as the league’s best equipment manager/trainer duo in the CHL’s Best of the Best balloting.
Rapid City placed in 15 of the 50 categories winning five, including Best Fans, Best Ice and Best Booster Club.
Rush veteran Damian Surma was also named best player in a shootout.