Jack Combs scored a power play goal with 13.1 seconds left in regulation to give the Wichita Thunder a 4-3 win over the Rapid City Rush Wednesday night in Wichita.
The loss ends a three-game winning streak for the Rush and dropped them from a three-way tie for first overall in the ECHL, now held by Wichita with a narrow one point lead in the standings.
The Rush came out fast in the first 20 minutes, outshooting Wichita 16-7 in the opening period, and left the frame with a 2-1 lead. Wichita scored the first goal of the game on just its second shot, but it came on the first Rush power play of the night. Fabrizio Ricci dislodged the puck from in between Ryker Kilins’ skates on the offensive blue line and went uncontested in the Rush zone, getting the puck past Rush net-minder Ivan Prosvetov 7:43 gone by in the game (the goal was unassisted).
On the same Rush power play, however, the Rapid City tied the game 1:27 later. Keeghan Howdeshell worked the puck from the near wall up to the blue line to Eric Israel, whose shot was stopped by Thunder goalie Mitch Gillam. But Brennan Saulnier was in the right place and poked the rebound in to tie the game at 1-1 with 10:46 left in the first (Israel and Howdeshell assisted).
Later, Dexter Dancs broke the deadlock to push the Rush ahead going into the intermission. With 2:16 left, Howdeshell intercepted a Thunder pass in neutral zone and entered the Thunder third on a three-on-two break, passing to Dancs, who rifled a shot by Gillam to give the Rush a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes (Howdeshell had the lone assist).
Combs scored the lone goal of the second, tying the game at 2-2. (Gillam had the lone assist).
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Within moments of beginning the third period, Tyler Poulsen put the visiting side back on top, but Wichita quickly countered. Poulsen struck 32 seconds into the frame when he caught a rebound in front of the crease and flung it by Gillam, giving the Rush a 3-2 advantage (Howdeshell and Saulnier assisted).
However, 2:19 later, Cameron Hebig drew the game even again on a wrister from the high slot over Prosvetov’s shoulder to tie things up at 3-3 (Jakob Stukel and Ostap Safin assisted).
Both teams traded chances back-and-forth, but nothing broke the deadlock until Israel was called for tripping at 17:56, putting the Thunder on the power play for almost the remainder of the game. With 13.1 seconds left, Patrik Parkkonen found Combs, who fired a shot under Prosvetov’s arm, vaulting the Thunder to an eventual regulation win (Parkkonen and Safin assisted).
Prosvetov suffered his first loss at the ECHL level, stopping 27 of 31 shots on net (1-1-0-0). Howdeshell registered a career-high 3-assist and 3-point night, with the assists serving as the first of his professional career.
The Rush continue their road trip with a matchup against the Tulsa Oilers on Friday at 6:05 p.m. MDT.