Colorado erupted for five goals in the third period to thump the Rapid City Rush 7-3 in ECHL action Wednesday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

It was a tight game (2-1) for the two hockey rivals through two periods of play, only to see the Eagles take control early in the third and race out to a big lead.

The loss was the third straight for the Rush, who dropped two road games last weekend at Allen. In those three defeats, Rapid City has given up 18 goals.

After a scoreless first period, the Eagles struck twice with their first goal barely a minute into the frame, as Michael Joly, the top scorer in the ECHL, scored the first of his three goals on the night. Drayson Bowman and Jake Marto were credited with the assists.

Colorado made it 2-0 on a Matt Register goal 58 seconds later.

But Rapid City got some late second-period momentum when it cut the lead in half on a Jimmy DeVito goal with 12 seconds remaining until the second-period intermission. Alex Guptill and Gustav Bouramman earned the assists.

That momentum was short-lived once skating began in the third. Like the second period, the Eagles struck quickly on Joy’s second goal (assists by Matt Garbowski and Bowmann) and Colorado made it 4-1 when Joey Ratelle scored from passes from Gabriel Verpaelst and Gage Ausmus less than three minutes into the period.

The Eagles would then run off three more goals in the third before Rapid City would get back on the scoreboard. Ratelle made it 4-1 with assists from Verpaelst and Ausmus. Ausmus then got his first goal of the game at the seven-minute mark with assists from Joly and Ben Storm.

Colorado made it 7-1 on goals by Jesse Mychan and Joy, the latter on a power play at the 10:23 mark.

Rapid City closed out the scoring when Ian Brady and Duane Salituro both found the back of the net. DeVito and Anthony Collins got the assists in the Rush’s second goal, while Guptill assisted on the third goal.

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After just four shots on goal in the first period, the Eagles warmed up in the next two and finished with 29. Rapid City finished with 27 shots on goal, but just three in the third.

Lukas Hafner picked up his second win of the season when he stopped 24 of 27 shots for the Eagles.

Adam Vay stopped seven of 10 shots before giving way to Storm Phaneuf, who stopped 15 of 19 shots on goal.

The loss dropped the Rush to 7-13-0-0 (14 points, second to last in Western Conference), while the Eagles moved to 14-4-3-0-0 (31 points, second in Western Conference).

The two teams will meet two more times this week, but this time in Colorado on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.