During the series between the Brampton Beast and the Rapid City Rush, both teams have seemed pretty evenly matched. Brampton took the first game Wednesday night on a goal with 19 seconds left and Rapid City won Friday night in a eight round shootout.
Saturday the Rush were able to leave no doubt.
Rapid City used strong special teams and an offense that created a lot of chances to take the finale with Brampton 3-1 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
"It was a heartbreaking loss on Wednesday, but I'm proud of the guys because they came out Friday with the big shootout win and tonight they just dominated," Rapid City coach Daniel Tetrault said. "After the first period we were the way better team. We outworked them, we outshot them, outhit them and that's the kind of hockey we need to play."
Once again special teams made the difference for the Rush. The power play generated shots, even though it didn't score, and the penalty kill was 5-for-5, after going 7-for-7 Friday night.
Rapid City got off to another fast start, as Kenton Miller scored his sixth goal of the season on assists from Evan Janssen and Pavel Jenys a minute and 45 seconds into the opening period.
It didn’t take Brampton long to respond, as Chris Leveille scored his third goal of the season off assists from Willie Corrin and Cody Donaghey 5:31 into the contest.
Chances were hard to come by for the rest of the period, and after 20 minutes the score remained tied at one. Both teams recorded nine shots in the period.
In the second period Miller continued his hot start to the season with his seventh goal, coming off an assist from Matt Caito on a shot 14:43 into the period.
"He has a knack to get to the net and get that quick release on net," Tetrault said of Miller's fast start. "He has a hard, heavy shot and he's been utilizing that. He's also real hard to knock off the puck, so I'm real happy with Kenton."
Miller said a lot of the credit can also go to his teammates creating good opportunities for him.
"We have such good puck-moving d-men who get the puck to us as we're moving," Miller said. "Usually when you're scoring, it's just that your shots are going in, you might not be getting anymore it's just that they're going in the net."
Even more action came with a little more than four minutes to go in the period, a check into one of the corners caused a vibration that shattered the glass two panels to the right.
With shards of glass littering the ice and front row of seats (where no one was sitting), crews at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center worked to clean the glass and replace the panel. The game was delayed for about 15 minutes.
Following the glass being cleaned up and panel being replaced, not many opportunities came of the Rush’s second period. Following the second, Rapid City was outshooting Brampton 25-14 and led in the game, 2-1.
It only took four minutes for Rapid City to pad its lead.
Gustav Bouramman scored his second goal of the season on a snipe shot that went top-shelf. He was assisted by Dante Salituro and Peter Sivak.
Throughout the third period the Rush opened up its advantage in the shots category and ended the game outshooting the Beast 39-23.
Steve Michalek had another outstanding night in goal, stopping 22 shots.
Brampton pulled its goalie with about 3:30 left in the game, which created more opportunities, but Michalek was able to hold the Beast off.
After starting the season 0-5 the Rush have rattled off three wins in their last four games, with the one loss coming in heartbreaking fashion.
Tetrault said he doesn't think the attitude has necessarily changed with Rapid City, it is just finding some reward for the work its already put into the season.
"We always stay positive. Except for the first two games against Allen, we've played pretty well. We had great games against Colorado and then obviously this series," he said. "We're a young team, they make a lot of mistakes and they just need to learn how to buy into a system and learn how to win. They're finding out here that when they do the little things and listen to what we're trying to implement."
Miller also said he hasn't noticed a change in the locker room attitude, but the only change lately has been that scene after games has been more of a party lately.
"I feel like we've actually had a good attitude, even when we we're losing and we've built off all our good points of our game," he said. "Now we just have more to build off, and we're getting the wins so what we're doing seems to be working."
Rapid City is now 3-6-0-0 with six points while Brampton falls to 2-6-1-1. Rapid City will have a home-and-home series with its rival, the Colorado Eagles next weekend.
The series begins Friday with a game in Loveland, Colo., followed by a game Saturday in Rapid City.