After snapping a long losing streak last week with a win against the Idaho Steelheads, the Rapid City Rush dropped a heart-breaker to its archrival, the Colorado Eagles, 6-4 Friday.
The Eagle’s offensive super-weapon Michael Joly scored the game tying and go-ahead goals in the third period to give Colorado a win in the first of a two game series.
"We were undisciplined in our approach, we didn't stick to our system and the mistakes compounded," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said of a third period when Rapid City gave up three goals. "We're scared of losing. We're a fragile, young team and you have to play to win."
The Rush had a solid first two periods, leading 2-0 after one and 4-3 after two.
"We sat back and they took it to us, especially in the third. It's unacceptable," Tetrault said. "I thought we played great in the first two periods, in the third period we slacked off."
It was the Rush who struck first, when three minutes in Kenton Miller’s stick found a loose puck during a chaotic series in front of the net, he poked the puck by Colorado goaltender Joe Cannata for the first goal. Pavel Jenys was credited with the assist.
The Rush kept the pressure up on Cannata and the Colorado defense for the first 10 minutes of action. It would be just after the 11-minute mark that they would get their second goal.
On a 5-on-3, Peter Sivak was initially denied by Cannata, who stopped the shot with his body, but the puck floated by him and into the net for the power play goal. With 8:54 left in the first period it was 2-0.
Dante Salituro recorded his 12th assist of the season on the goal as well as Gustav Bouramman also tallied an assist in first game since being recalled from the Iowa Wild.
Although Rapid City was able to generate more shots, it was unable to score again in the first period and after 20 minutes the lead stayed at 2-0.
After the Rush’s Andrew Miller was called for slashing with 21 seconds left in the period, meaning Colorado started the second period with a power play, and it would make the most of it.
Only 1:08 into the period, Jake Marchment got the Eagles on the board with a goal on an assist from Matt Register.
After that it was Rapid City’s turn to respond, as the hottest player on the Rush roster struck again.
For the fourth straight game Jack Walker scored, this time on a breakaway when Rapid City was shorthanded, and with 16:27 remaining in the period the Rush led 3-1.
An eventful period continued to be just that, as Colorado again responded with a goal from Jesse Mychan on an assist from Michael Joly with 13:36 remaining to make it a one goal game.
In championship fashion, Colorado refused to go away, scoring again before the period ended when Eli Roming found the back of the net with 10:34 remaining.
Rapid City did not fold, getting a goal back to retake the lead, with 2:52 left in the second Daniel Leavens scored on an assist Tyler Deresky, to give the Rush a 4-3 lead, which is how the period would end.
In the second the goals slowed down for the first 10 minutes, as the Rush looked to put away Colorado while the Eagles aimed to force overtime.
The Eagles made the first move.
With 10:23 remaining in regulation Joly buried his 21st goal of the season to tie the game at four,
After the Joly goal Rapid City had the chance to go up when Gabriel Verpaelst was sent to the penalty box with 9:58 to go, but an uninspired power play yielded no goals and the game remained tied.
With 5:04 remaining Colorado got a power play opportunity when Evan Janssen was sent to the penalty box, but it was able to do more than Rapid City was with its opportunity.
Joly scored again, this time with 4:01 remaining on a power play goal. For the first time all night Colorado held the lead, and it would not relinquish it.
"That shot from Joly, the top scorer in the league, no one is going to stop that shot," Tetrault said. "It's unfortunate, but the result is a loss."
Register was credited with the assists on both of Joly's goals.
With 17.1 seconds left Ryan Harrison scored on an open net for the sixth goal, he was assisted by Joey Ratelle.
"It's tough, no one likes losing," Tetrault said. "You've got to play to win, not play to lose."
Tetrault said all the Rush can do is move on, and try to get back on the right track tomorrow night.
"We've got a young team here, and they're learning. They've got to learn how to win and right now we haven't been winning much," he said. "We're fragile mentally and that's what happens. We've got to learn how to win these games and respond tomorrow."
The loss drops Rapid City to 8-21-0-0 while Colorado moves to 22-5-4-0.