Living on the edge invariably leads to one of two emotional outcomes. To the winner, the euphoria of a late game victory. And to the loser, the sting of possible victory slipped away and the burdensome thought of what could have been.
Unfortunately, the Rapid City Rush, winners of their last two games in overtime following impressive late game comebacks, put themselves behind the eight ball one too many times and saw a four-game winning streak snapped.
Down two goals heading into the final frame, the Rapid City comeback on Wednesday night came a little too late as the Rush drew within a single goal with five seconds remaining before falling to the visiting Idaho Steelheads 4-3 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Rapid City grabbed the early advantage capitalizing on a couple of back-to-back Idaho penalties, the second setting up a Rush 5-on-3 man advantage. The hometowners did not let the opportunity go for naught as forward Dante Salituro slipped into the face-off circle to the right of Steelhead goalie Ryan Faragher and wristed home his fourth goal of the season, a rebound of a Matt Caito blast from the right point. Caito and Ian Brady earned assists on the goal.
Idaho drew even with 4:22 remaining in the period, also benefiting from an odd man advantage (Alex Guptill, a two minute minor for slashing). Steven McParland, set up to the left of the goal mouth, jammed the puck passed Rush goalie Adam Vay. The Idaho goal snapped a string of 36 consecutive penalty kills.
The first period ended with the score knotted at 1-1, with the Rush holding a 10-7 advantage on shots-on-goal.
The Steelheads asserted control of the game in the second period, outscoring the Rush 3-1 in the frame bunching two goals within a 57-second span (14:15 and 13:18) with Will Merchant tallying the first and Justin Parizek the second.
With the next goal crucial, the Rush quickly responded as Salituro added his second goal of the contest 47 seconds later knocking in a loose puck following a scramble in front of the net with Jimmy DeVito and Guptill earning helpers.
Looking to draw even, the Rush pressed the attack and Idaho defenseman Cody Corbett took advantage skating in uncontested from the left point and unleashed a laser from the faceoff circle.
“In the second period we were back-checked on a couple of plays and they got a couple of goals on deflections in front of our net,” Rush coach Danny Tetrault said. “We didn’t play a full 60 minutes tonight and it unfortunately showed up on the scoreboard. When we did we dominated and the good thing is we have them Friday and Saturday back here at home, and good teams don’t lose two in a row, so we just need to regroup.”
Down two goalsw heading into the final frame, the Rush ramped up the offense, though Faragher was up to the task, gloving a point-blank shot from mid slot by Peter Sivak and thwarting a couple of other grade A opportunities as well.
“I thought Salituro had a great game with two goals and (Peter) Sivak had a lot of chances and played well. He’s frustrated, but once he gets a goal he will take off,” Tetrault said. “There certainly was no quit in the guys tonight. They kept pushing and pushing, but their goaltender really played well. They have a well structured team with a lot of guys from last year, and you have to play a full 60 minutes to beat them.”
The Rush (5-7-0-0) and Steelheads (6-3-3-1) continue the three-game series with games on Friday and Saturday nights (7:05).
“We had won five of the last six, and this is a tough loss tonight, but right back in the saddle on Friday night,” Tetrault said. “Friday is a big game for us to try to get back to .500 after starting 0-5. And we are in a tough division and every point is crucial because everyone else is getting points. But as I’ve said, I’ve got a young team and as they begin to put together 60-minute games, we will be alright.”