What has been a week of validation for the Rapid City Rush continued on Saturday night with a dramatic 1-0 win over Idaho on Veterans Appreciation Night at the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena.

The win completes a three-game home sweep of the Steelhead team that came into the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena sitting atop the ECHL standings.

Scoreless through two periods, defenseman Myles McGurty drilled the game-winner with 1:48 remaining to complete the sweep and keep the Rush undefeated at home (5-0), and in the process, vault past the Steelheads into first place in the Mountain Division standings.

The game-winner came when McGurty unleashed a slap shot from the right point that appeared to deflect off Idaho goalie Colton Point and then the far post en route to the net. The goal, special enough in its own right, was perhaps made more so by the fact that the goal was McGurty’s first. 

“Not a bad time for it,” McGurty said with a smile. “There was not a lot of time left and I just thought I would throw it on net and it had some eyes and went in there. I didn’t even see it go in to be honest. I will have to see the replay. It must have hit something on the way since it wasn’t the hardest shot.

The win against a quality team that probably had the better of the action on Saturday night (Idaho out-shot the Rush 30-21) completed a sweep accomplished in a variety of ways, from a 5-1 Wednesday night blitz to a come from beyond win in an overtime shootout in Friday night’s stirring 3-2 win.

“Idaho played one heck of a game,” Rush coach Danny Tetrault said. “They play a really good structure game and we couldn’t get anything going offensively. (Ivan) Prosvetov kept us in the game in the second period with some big saves. He was on his game and he gave us a chance tonight.”

And a solid performance for a Rush squad that is quickly establishing itself as a team in transition from an also-run in recent seasons to a squad to be reckoned with in the ECHL in the 2019-20 season.

The first period followed a pattern reflective of the first two games of the series. An evenly played period in which Idaho had the better of the play shot-wise 11-7 (Idaho has had the SOG advantage in the two previous games) though puck possession was relatively even. The Rush did have a couple of power-play opportunities though few Grade A shots resulted (three total in the two opportunities).

The Rush penalty kill unit, the ECHL’s 8th best, stymied the lone Idaho power play chance in the period, a Giovanni Fiore interference penalty with 5:20 remaining in the period, without allowing a shot on goal. And Prosvetov, a Rush newcomer, rejected the 11 Steelhead shots in the frame.

“Our penalty kill was tremendous,” Tetrault said. “There were a lot of shot blocks, Prosvetov made some big saves and we stayed tight."

Idaho had the best of play in the second period gaining the Rush zone frequently and out-shooting the Rush 14-5 as a result though again Prosvetov (30 saves on the night) came up with some big saves and the Rush penalty kill unit limited Idaho to three shots during the four-minute stretch.

“It feels great tonight,” Prosvetov, a native of Moscow, Russia, competing in his first year in the ECHL. “I came down and it was a warm welcome here, and then you come out and there are 4,000 people there and they are screaming for you, so it was really awesome. It’s kind of emotional to come here and it’s nice to have my first win in my first game and my first pro shutout also.”

Though outplayed for much of the night by a quality, well-structured Idaho squad, the Rush came up big in the third period for the second night in a row. And made the one big play needed to win the team’s eighth game of the season.

“They are a good team. They were the league leader coming in here for a reason and we knew it would be a battle tonight and it was,” Tetrault added. “We are finding ways to win. Against good teams that don’t allow much but we just persevered and I thought our third period was our best again. It was playoff type game and a great win for us.”

Rapid City (8-3-2-0) heads back out on the road next week with games in Wichita Wednesday, Tulsa Friday and Kansas City Saturday before returning home to host Tulsa on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

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