The 2018-19 season ended earlier than the Rapid City Rush wanted it to, but it ended on a high note.
An overtime goal in front of a large and loud crowd is how the season was capped off, as Rapid City topped the Kansas City Mavericks 2-1.
The win means the Rush conclude the season with a 30-33-5-4 record with 69 points.
“It feels great. There was a great crowd, overtime game, and what a great response from (Friday) night,” Rapid City coach Daniel Tetrault said. “(Friday) night everyone was frustrated, we knew it wasn’t our night. The guys responded unbelievable and we played hard all night.”
The first period was very similar to Friday night’s game, as seven penalties were called on both teams, and neither was able to get into a flow offensively.
The first 20 minutes saw no goals, in part because Rapid City goaltender Tyler Parks stopped nine shots.
Parks finished the game with 23 saves, and Tetrault said it felt good to see the goalie that had served as the No. 2 behind Adam Carlson play well in the last game of the season.
“You have to love Parksy’s attitude. He never pouted once, his body language is always positive,” he said. “He’s the hardest working guy in practice. Even when Carlson was getting all the starts, he just would stay positive. He’s a true team leader and a team player. I’m really excited that he got the win tonight; he played amazing and that’s because of his character and leadership.”
With 47.6 seconds remaining in the first, Zach Fischer was called for a tripping minor which meant Kansas City would start the period on the power play.
That’s how the Mavericks drew first blood, as Joey Sides scored with 18:49 remaining and two seconds left on the power play, with assists from Greg Betzold and Corey Durocher.
The Rush responded with what was close to a power play goal, as five seconds after the door opened and Kansas City’s Brayden Sherbinin came back onto the ice, Rapid City tied the game.
Chris Leibinger scored the goal with 13:25 left in the second on assists from Justin Faryna and Cedric Montminy.
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The period ended with the score tied at one.
The third period saw fewer penalties being called, as only two were issued in the final 20 minutes.
“The ref calmed down and finally let the teams play; both coaches were pretty upset,” Tetrault said of the fewer penalties being called in the third. “The fans didn’t come out here to see him. He didn’t have the best weekend. Both coaches were upset, let the teams play, unless it’s an obvious call. They were calling everything.”
With 3:23 remaining in the game, a slap shot from Zach Todd that appeared to go in — the goal light lit up — but the referee waived the goal off.
Neither team would score for the remaining 3:23 of regulation and the game went to overtime.
It was only a matter of time during the final five minutes before Rapid City broke through. The Rush outshot Kansas City 7-0, and seventh shot was on the stick of Alex Rautter, and it won won the game for Rapid City with 1:19 left.
He was assisted by Darby Llewellyn and Myles McGurty.
“It bodes well going into the offseason, and the fans deserved a game like that,” Tetrault said. “They supported us all year and they were loud.”
Last season the Rush went 25-41-3-3 for 56 points, which was good for last place in the Mountain Division. Tetrault said it’s important to look at how far the team came this season, even if it won’t be playing for the Kelley Cup.
“It was a great end to the year, and we have to keep that momentum going into next season,” he said. “Thirty wins is a big improvement from the season before, it’s baby steps. We’re not happy with not making the playoffs, but we’ll add some pieces and go from there.”
Kansas City moved to 36-30-4-2 with 78 points. As the fourth team in the Mountain Division, it goes into the playoffs facing the Tulsa Oilers.