Rapid City Rush forward Justin Farnya admitted that he needed to get his legs under him when he rejoined the Rush three games ago.
He seems to have found his legs and then some.
Farnya was involved in a fight and scored the game-winning goal with 18.1 seconds left as the Rush topped the Florida Everblades 3-2 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Friday.
"It's a really good feeling," he said. "It was a total team effort, everyone bought in. It was a huge test tonight and I'm just proud of everyone."
The win improved Rapid City to 16-21-2-3 with 37 points. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak.
"The guys really earned it," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. "We finally got a couple of bounces in front of their net and we buried them. We've had some opportunities during the losing streak to score goals, and we haven't been able to."
Adam Carlson was solid in net for the Rush, stopping 22 shots.
"He'll admit it, he was struggling," Tetrault said of Carlson. "When things go bad they can start snowballing, but he was one of the reasons we won tonight. Sometimes, with goalies, the mind can play tricks on you and he needed a big win like that."
The pace of the game started slowly, and didn’t pick up considerably after the first five minutes.
With 12 minutes to go in the period, however, Rapid City was able to generate some chances that resulted in a goal.
Josh Wesley was sent to the penalty box for Florida, and with four seconds left in the power play, at the 10:04 mark, Chris Leibinger made the Everblades pay.
He fired a hard slap-shot by Jamie Phillips with assists from Brayden Sherbinin and Shaquille Merasty.
Phillips ended the night with 30 saves.
The period ended with only 13 shots total for both teams and the Rush leading 1-0.
Before the end of the period, Farnya was involved in a fight, and on his way to the penalty box, he was seen getting the crowd fired up.
"He's been a fan favorite here for years," Tetrault said. "He has a lot of heart and he adds a lot of value to our team in the leadership role, and he can play."
The Everblades got on the board with a goal from Matt Finn on assists from Blake Winiecki and Mitch Vandergunst with 14:31 to play.
With less than 3:30 to play in the period, Michael Turner was sent to the penalty box for the Rush. That’s when Carlson stepped up.
Florida had multiple point-blank shots, but each one was turned away. After two periods, the score was tied at one.
In the third period the Everblades took the lead with a goal from Shane Walsh, who deflected a shot that was off into the goal with 16:06 remaining. He was assisted by Logan Roe, who fired the initial shot.
Rapid City had a response ready. With 12:15 remaining, Florida had a man sent off, and it was only 20 seconds later that the Rush made them pay.
Garrett Klotz was able to find the back of the net with help from Pierre Luc-Mercier, and with less than 12 minutes remaining, the score was tied again.
From there it was Farnya's moment, as he buried his shot with less than 20 seconds left to give Rapid City the big win.
"You have to take it one game at a time, but on the other hand, when you have a game like that, you want to get it going," Farnya said.
The Rush and Everblades, 27-8-5-0 with 59 points, face-off tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Radjenovic leaves team
The lone ECHL All-Star from Rapid City is no longer on the team, opting to play in Slovakia, according to Tetrault.
Andrew Radjenovic had complied 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points in 40 games, but Tetrault said he decided to take an offer he got from a different league.
"He didn't want to be here anymore. It's part of the business, it's disappointing news," Tetrault said. "He got a better offer in Europe, what could I do?"
Tetrault suspended Radjenovic to retain his ECHL rights.
"We were blindsided by it," he said. "It gives other guys opportunities to play more. The last couple of weeks he wasn't playing as well because he had gotten an offer, but we didn't know that, but I could tell because of his play.
"You show me that kind of body language; if you don't want to be here, get out of here. We want guys who want to be here."