In the words of coach Daniel Tetrault, the gorilla is finally off the backS of the Rapid City Rush.
Two goals from Jimmy DeVito and three goals in the first period gave Rapid City its first win of the season 4-3 over the Colorado Eagles.
It was also Tetrault’s first career win as a head coach.
“It wasn’t like we weren’t playing well, we were competing in every game,” Tetrault said. “The guys played well, they played the systems well. We’re starting to learn now.”
The goals from DeVito were the first professional goals of his career.
“It’s really good for the team to get this win,” DeVito said. “We’ve always believed in ourselves, so even though we didn’t get off to the best start, we have still been able to keep the group positive.”
Just like Friday night the action started quickly, as the first five minutes saw four goals scored.
It only took Rapid City a minute and 10 seconds to get its first goal, as DeVito scored off assists from Michael Caito and Alex Guptill.
“I was just kind of around the net and I think it was Caito that got the shot through,” DeVito said of his goal. “The puck came out and I was just right there.”
Colorado responded with a goal from Michael Joly, assisted by J.C. Beaudin with 16:51 remaining in the period.
From there, Rapid City scored two exciting goals. The first came only 55 seconds after the Joly goal when Dante Salituro scored off an assist from Gustav Bouramman.
After one trip into the Rapid City zone, the Rush were able to take the puck away as Alex Foster, Guptill and DeVito went on a breakaway. It was DeVito that would get his second goal of the night and give the Rush a 3-1 lead.
“We won a wall battle and Foster got it ahead to Guptill,” DeVito said. “Gups just made a good play, it’s what he’s good at.”
After going down two goals early, the Eagles controlled the puck for the rest of the period, ending it with a 9-4 shots on goal advantage. With 7:18 remaining, the puck found the stick of Drayson Bowman in front of a crowded net to cut the lead to one.
The period would end with Rapid City leading 3-2, and no penalties called on either team.
The first half of the second period wasn’t as exciting as the first. Both teams were able to kill off a penalty, and the Rush didn’t register their first shot of the period for about 10 minutes.
The remaining 10 minutes of the period didn’t produce any goals, but Rush goalie Steve Michalek was a brick wall, stopping 12 Colorado shots in the period, including a penalty kill with 2:32 left.
The Rush penalty kill was a strength all night. At the beginning of the third period Marcus Ortiz was sent to the sin bin for hooking, but Rapid City was able to keep Colorado out of the net.
After being shut out for 40 minutes, Rapid City got its insurance goal with 15:59 remaining in the game.
Guptill was fed a perfect pass by DeVito, and was able to sneak the puck by Sam Brittain to put Rapid City up 4-2.
Colorado would answer back. After multiple attempts on goal, Jesse Mychan was able to get a puck by Michalek to make it 4-3 with nine minutes remaining.
That would be the end of the scoring, as Rapid City was able to keep the puck in its zone. In the third period the Rush outshot Colorado 16-2.
As Tetrault left the ice he was visibly much lighter, with the weight of getting the first win off his shoulders.
Still, he said there are things Rapid City can improve on.
“I only have three guys on the team that were here last year. I have a new team, I have a young team and they need to learn how to win,” he said. “Hopefully this carries on to a long winning streak, especially with all of the home games we have in November.”
He also said that while his defense played better, he wants it to improve even more.
“There’s still too many breakdowns,” he said. “They need to realize they need to simplify things back there, move the puck quick and not cheat on offense. Real proud of Riley Weselowski and Michael Sdao, they were real pillars back there. They played well in both games against Colorado and I think that wears off on the young guys, when they see two veteran guys keeping it simple and that it works.”
Even though improvements can be made, there was an obvious feeling of jubilation around the Rush locker room after the win. They had taken down the defending Kelley Cup champs, who are also a division rival for their first win of the season.
“I think it just shows the group of what we’re capable of, if we do the little things right,” DeVito said. “It gives us confidence going into next week.”
The Rush (1-5-0-0) will host the Brampton Beast (0-5-1-0) next week. Colorado (6-1-0-0) will travel to Boise to take on the Idaho Steelheads (2-2-2-1).
Rapid City and Brampton will face-off at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, and it will be the first of three games the two teams will play.