The Rapid City Rush came into Wednesday night’s clash with the Tulsa Oilers looking to erase the taste of a 10-1 shellacking suffered at the hands of the Kansas City Mavericks on Saturday night.
Fortunately, the loss was but one game, and other than skewing team statistics unfavorably, was evened out as Rush cleansed the palate with a 2-1 win over the Oilers at the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena Tulsa.
The win was team’s sixth consecutive triumph on home ice as the Rush established a franchise record with the sixth consecutive two-pointer.
Less was more for the Rush on Wednesday night as the Rush were out-shot 30-19 in a game in which the puck spent more time in the Rush end of the ice than on the opposite end.
Frustrated offensively for much of the night, and kept in the 1-1 game by excellent work between the posts by goalie Ivan Prosvetov, the Rush picked up the pace in the third period.
Energized by Prosvetov’s work, the Rush finally were able to create some Grade A scoring changes. And after Dexter Dancs was stuffed on a breakaway and Stephane Legault on a similar opportunity, Peter Quenneville tallied the game-winner on a back-hander from the low slot with 4:34 remaining on the game clock. Trey Phillips and Myles McGurty assisted on the game-winner.
“It was just greasy,” Peter Quenneville said of his sixth goal of the year and team-leading 19th point. “I tried to get to the net and I could see that McGurty was going to get it on net quick. I whacked at it the first time and it was bouncing around a bit and I hit it again and it trickled in off the post. Sometimes they are greasy like that and fortunately enough of it got us the two points.”
Some wins are bigger than others no matter how pretty they look, and Rush coach Danny Tetrault was delighted that despite being outplayed for two periods by an aggressive Tulsa squad. His team garnered a very important two points, and a much needed win after the debacle in the team’s last outing.
“For some reason we were flat for the first two periods tonight,” Tetrault said. “It seemed like we had no energy, but then again, we found a way to win. Our third period was our best of the night. We started forechecking and putting pressure on their D and getting shots on goal. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a big two points and once again we found a way to win at home in the third period.”
The opening period didn’t bode well as the Rush struggled clearing the puck and eventually paid a penalty when a loose puck found the stick of Tulsa forward Charlie Sampair, who beat Rush goalie Ivan Prosvetov with a wrister top-shelf, glove side to put the Oilers up 1-0 at the 9:14 mark of the period.
A Rush penalty — a delay of game call on Eric Israel — 17 seconds later could have quickly doubled the Tulsa advantage but the Rush penalty kill unit shut down the Oiler power play without allowing a shot on goal.
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A bullet dodged, the Rush offense responded, the result a tying goal by Gage Torrel (second of the season) as the rookie deflected in a blast from the left point by Dexter Dancs. Israel earned a helper on the play as well as the period closed with the teams knotted at 1-1.
Stymied on offense and pressured by a relenting Tulsa offense again in the second period, the Rush penalty kill (a perfect 4-for-4 successful kills on the night) aided hugely by Prosvetov came up big time and again stuffing point blank shots.
“It was a good period for me and I just tried to battle hard for the team,” Prosvetov said. “It’s all about the battle. I actually like that kind. It shows who you are as a team, you know, and we showed that today after a big loss. There was a little extra pressure on me tonight but I didn’t want to let my teammates down”
Despite being outshot 9-1 through the first 14 minutes of the second period, Rapid City appeared to take the lead with 3:02 remaining in the period when Brendan Saulnier knocked in a loose puck from mid-slot.
Unfortunately, the goal was waved off due to one of the rare occasions when an opposition penalty works to a team’s disadvantage as the replay showed that a Tulsa penalty had preceded the Saulnier net-finder seconds before.
A second Oiler penalty a minute and 13 seconds later gave the Rush a 47-second 5-on-3 opportunity which went for naught as a couple of unscreened shots were easily handled by Tulsa net-minder Devin Williams as the period ended with the 1-1 tie.
The third period saw some excellent scoring chances from both teams though again Prosvetov continued his stellar play between the posts. And with an amped up energy level, the Rush were able to create some Grade A scoring chances.
Dexter Dancs got behind the defense but was stuffed at the goal mouth as was Stephane Legault on a similar opportunity. And a Tyler Coulter wrister from the high slot whistled over the net.
And eventually Rapid City capitalized on the more energized pace with Quenneville’s game winner the result.
With the win, the Rush improved to 10-5-2-0 on the season and moved into a tie for second in the ECHL standings.
The Rush and Oilers (7-10-1-0) continue the three-game series at the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena on Friday night (7:05).