Rapid City Rush coach Daniel Tetrault admitted that he and his team had a frustrating weekend.
Saturday night the Rush were unable to gain any ground on the Kansas City Mavericks for the final playoff spot. Kansas City fell to the Atlanta Gladiators 4-3, but the Rush lost to the Idaho Steelheads 4-0 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively, they’re playing well,” he said. “That’s the best defense in the whole league. We couldn’t penetrate the net-front, it was difficult to get shots on goal. They’re a good team and you have to give them credit.”
Rapid City is still seven points behind the Mavericks for the final playoff spot. Rapid City has only five games remaining while Kansas City has eight.
“The guys are frustrated. It’s not a lack of effort, we just got beat by a better team these last two games,” he said. “It’s probably a good thing we’re going on the road, we played pretty well in Idaho. We’ll have to get some team bonding and forget about these two games.”
Rapid City was out-shot for the 11th straight game, with Idaho holding a 27-20 edge.
The game started with some tempers flaring, as after a hit from Taylor Crunk, Idaho’s Robbie Payne went after him and the two fought with less than two minutes gone by.
Although the fists flew early, the same couldn’t be said for scoring chances early.
It took Rapid City nearly eight minutes to record its first shot, and in the first period it was unable to do anything with a power play.
Idaho ended the period with a 8-6 shots advantage, and it was a shot from Elgin Pearce with 39 seconds left that sent the Steelheads to the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Pearce’s goal was assisted by A.J. White and Kyle Schempp.
Early in the second period, Idaho added to its lead when Charlie Dodero broke away and fired a high and hard shot that got by Carlson. He was assisted by Steve McParland and scored with 16:12 to go in the period.
The period ended with the Steelheads leading 2-0 and being out-shot by Idaho 19-15.
The third period wasn’t kind to Rapid City.
A puck from the stick of Will Merchant barely got by Carlson with 12:05 to go. He was assisted by McParland. Then, Idaho scored again on a power play when Schempp found the back of the net with 7:22 to go for an unassisted goal.
It didn’t help that with 6:55 to go Liam Bilton was sent to the penalty box and the Rush weren’t able to generate any scoring chances playing down a man.
Later in the period, Cedric Montminy was sent to the sin bin with 3:21 to play in the game, which also didn’t help Rapid City offensively. What sent fans to the exits was when Garrett Klotz for two minutes with 1:14 to go.
“The frustration set in and we committed a couple of undisciplined penalties,” Tetrault said. “The game was out of reach by then. We just have to keep digging and take it one game at a time. It’s definitely frustrating and the guys are frustrated but that’s a very good team. They’re going to be very tough to beat going into the playoffs. They’re stacked.”
The loss dropped Rapid City to 27-32-5-3, still with 62 points and still seven behind Kansas City while the Rush have five games to go and the Mavericks have eight.
Idaho is 39-22-3-2 with 83 points. The two teams face each other again as they begin a three game series Wednesday in Idaho before the Rush come back to host Kansas City in the final two games of the regular season.
“We have to find a way to get goals early and get a lead on them,” he said.
Tetrault said he would rather be in his team’s position than in Kansas City’s.
“I think they have more pressure than we do,” he said. “We’ve been down seven to nine points for the last month or so. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t gain any ground but we have to figure out Idaho on Wednesday.”
The two teams play at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.