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ECHL HOCKEY

Rush explode for 4 goals in 3rd period in blowout of Allen

  • Updated

The Rapid City Rush seem to be enjoying the end of the work day and the beginning of the weekend this season.

Fueled by a wild third period where fights broke out and green officials showed their colors, the Rush exploded for four goals en route to a season-high total in a 6-1 blowout victory over a banged up, shorthanded Allen Americans squad on Friday at The Monument Ice Arena.

Rapid City (4-5-2) has earned all of its wins this year on Friday nights.

“It was a long time coming,” head coach Scott Burt said. “We’ve given up a lot of goals in the third period the last few games and it’s bit us in the butt. Tonight was a good response. The leaders led the way tonight.”

Five different skaters tallied goals for the Rush, led by a pair from Logan Nelson. Gabe Chabot and Jake Wahlin, two of a few returning players from last season, both potted their maiden goals of the season, while Wahlin’s served as his inaugural ECHL score.

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Rush forward Max Coatta (9) reaches for the puck as Allen's Spencer Asuchak rounds the goal on Friday at The Monument Ice Arena in Rapid City.

“They’re a big piece to the puzzle, and I know they’ve been gripping the stick pretty tight. They want to score, they want to contribute,” Burt said of Chabot and Wahlin. “They’re doing other things well but it was good for both guys today to get the monkey off their backs.”

For the third straight occasion, Rapid City surrendered a goal in the game’s opening five minutes. Following Alec Butcher’s tripping penalty, Spencer Asuchak fired a shot that trickled through the legs of goalie Lukas Parik for the power-play score at 2:02.

It wound up being the only goal let up by Parik, who finished with 33 saves to pick up his second straight win between the pipes.

Burt, equipped also with Cole Kehler and a struggling Dave Tendeck, wouldn’t say afterward if Parik is his new No. 1.

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Rush goaltender Lukas Parik (left) speaks with forward Stephen Baylis during a Nov. 19 game against the Allen Americans at The Monument Ice Arena.

“I’ve got three good goalies who we’re going to rotate. Lukas is a young goalie who’s learning the pro game, but he was fantastic (tonight),” Burt said. “They’re going to battle it out. They love battling it out against each other and we’ll see where it takes us.”

The Rush evened the score at 3:35 of the second period when Chabot skated down the right wing side with the puck and directed a shot toward the net that Max Coatta stuffed just barely over the goal line during a net front scrum, which prompted a review and quick confirmation.

Allen (3-6-2) netminder Antoine Bibeau was taken out after the goal, dealing with an injury that was sustained in a first-period collision. He was replaced with Hayden Lavigne, who started the season with Rapid City but was cut after training camp.

The Rush took the lead on Lavigne when Logan Nelson buried a short-sided one-timer from Brett Gravelle bottom-left off a 2-on-1 at 14:52 of the middle frame.

“We let one slip away on Wednesday so we knew this one was pretty important,” Nelson said. “We’ve got a pretty resilient group. I think everyone works hard and takes it shift by shift. We got a goal and didn’t look back.”

A close game through 40 minutes started to devolve when Butcher unleashed a slap shot from the high slot that trickled in at 2:23 of the third period, and Nelson followed with his second goal at 7:44 when he stuffed in the puck with bodies in the crease to make it 4-1.

“Everyone just stuck with the game plan and just did their job and didn’t stray away,” Nelson said. “Once you find the back of the net, they come in bunches.”

Butcher recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick later in the frame when he dropped the mitts and fought Tyler Poulson. Klotz, to the surprise of no one, answered a check about a minute later by engulfing Kelly Bent, who egged on his opponent, into the boards behind the net and pummeling the Americans center. Lavigne got in on the action by trying to prying Klotz off, resulting in a flurry of penalties that took an extended delay to sort by the game’s young officials, causing a 43% capacity crowd to become restless.

Fight

Rush forward Garrett Klotz (left) hits Allen's Kelly Bent on Friday at The Monument Ice Arena.

In the succeeding minutes, Chabot blasted a wrister from the high slot through traffic that found the back of the net for his first goal of the season on a 4-on-4 score at 14:12.

The Americans, led by veteran forward Jack Combs, who is serving as head coach this week after bench boss Steve Martinson tested positive for COVID-19 and did not make the trip to the Black Hills, elected to pull Lavigne inside five minutes of regulation for a 6-on-4 and eventually a 6-on-5 opportunity. The attack lasted for a few minutes until Wahlin glided in an empty-netter from the neutral zone for his inaugural ECHL goal at 18:34 to finish off the blowout.

“Allen’s hurting right now. They’re banged up,” Burt said. “They’ve got some players who are battling through it, but our guys stuck with the process, they stuck with the structure and they got rewarded tonight.”

The Rush and Americans, tied at 1-1 in the three-game series, will meet for the rubber match Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at The Monument Ice Arena.

Contact Matt Case at matt.case@rapidcityjournal.com

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