Following Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Tulsa Oilers, Rapid City Rush coach Daniel Tetrault made it clear that he wasn't happy with his team's effort, calling it "unacceptable."
What a difference 24 hours can make.
Rapid City outshot, outhit and outhustled Tulsa Saturday night and walked away with a 2-1 overtime win at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
"It was one of those games where both teams had great opportunities, but both goaltenders were outstanding tonight," he said. "They made some outstanding stops on both ends. It came down to overtime, but we found a way to win, and that's the key."
From the opening moments, it was clear Tetrault’s message Friday night had gotten to the Rush.
"The first 10 minutes we really played well, guys were dialed in and more focused. After last night everyone was disappointed," he said. "Guys showed character, they responded well, they knew the effort was no good (Friday) night and that we deserved to lose. When you're ready to start a game, you finish it well as well.
"I've got to give credit to Tulsa, they never stopped. They played with inspiration and they never backed down."
In the first two minutes a hard check from Jimmy DeVito caused him to drop the gloves with Connor Bleackley, and only a few minutes later it was Ian Brady and Adam Pleskach exchanging blows.
Not even 10 minutes into the first, Anthony Collins got back into the fighting spirit, as he went after Connor Schmidt from Tulsa and took him to the ground, receiving a thunderous ovation from the Rush faithful.
Collins and DeVito were two lineup additions added in the hope of giving the Rush some added toughness, and Tetrault said it worked out well.
"We came out of the gate and played real physical," he said. "I instilled DeVito and Collins, and they both fought, some great fights. They got dirty and that's what it takes. You have to play physical. If you don't get physical, win your stick battles, you're one-on-one battles, you're not going to win many games."
When the teams weren’t fighting, it was clear that Rapid City had the advantage in the first 20 minutes. A great effort from Tulsa goalie Jake Hildebrand kept Rapid City off the board until 15:13 into the first period when Peter Sivak scored on a slap-shot from the top of the zone on an assist from Kenton Miller.
The period ended with the Rush leading 1-0 and outshooting the Oilers 16-11.
In the second period Tulsa hit back. The Oilers outshot the Rush 15-13 in the period, and with 12.4 seconds remaining that effort showed up on the scoreboard.
Adam Pleskach finally got Tulsa on the board with a power play goal right before the second period horn sounded. A game where the Rush had outplayed the Oilers for 40 minutes was now tied, which is how the period would end.
Joey Sides and Tommy Vannelli were credited with the assists.
In the first 10 minutes of the third period, it was Rapid City that again controlled most of the possession and put the best chances on net, missing multiple point blank shots.
The best chance for Tulsa came with a little more than five minutes remaining, when Dylan Hubbs was taken down on a breakaway and given a penalty shot.
That didn’t phase Rapid City goaltender Adam Vay, as he stopped the shot with ease to keep the game tied.
Hildebrand was able to keep Rapid City out of the net for the remainder of the third period, and the two teams went to overtime tied at one.
Rapid City started the overtime period on a penalty kill after Peter Sivak was sent to the sin bin with 41.2 seconds remaining in regulation. The number one ranked penalty kill unit in the ECHL was able to kill off the penalty, and went back on the offensive.
The Rush finished with 44 shots on goal, compared to Tulsa's 37, but none was bigger than the last one.
Matt Caito rocketed a wrist-shot by Hildebrand with just 23 seconds left in the overtime period to give Rapid City the win and the series.
Tulsa is now 6-7-3-2 with 17 points.
Now the Rush move on to another division rival. After enjoying 10 of their 11 November games at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City will hit the road to take on the Allen Americans.
"We can't afford to lose anymore games and they know that," Tetrault said. "Now with this win, we get on the road to Allen. No one expects us to win, we've got no pressure. If we play this way against Allen, I like our chances.
"We've just got to keep working hard and playing physical. We're going to have a good week of practice. It should be a good series."
The Rush will skate against Allen Friday and Saturday. Rapid City comes into that series 7-10-0-0 with 14 points, while Allen is 10-6-2-1 with 23 points and in third in the mountain division.
The puck will drop at 6 p.m. for both contests.