For the second consecutive year, the Rushmore Thunder boys’ varsity hockey team will be looking to secure the South Dakota high school state title as it scored a 6-0 shutout over the Brookings Rangers in the semifinals in Fort Pierre on Saturday afternoon.
The defending state champs had no trouble from the outset as the offense came out and found the net three times in the opening 20 minutes of the contest.
The first score came on an unassisted goal by Seth Stock in the fifth minute, followed by a Blake Devries goal (assisted by Camden Nayman) 52 seconds later.
Mason Martin closed out the first period scoring when he found the back of the net in the 16th minute on assists from Duncan Chisolm and Carson Kulmala.
Despite the hot start for Rushmore’s offense, Thunder head coach Dick Novak gave some credit to the team’s defensive effort, including starting goaltender John Young.
“We played really solid hockey on both ends of the ice today, especially on the defensive side,” Novak said. “John Young played really well for us and we are really happy with our effort today.”
Young played a key role in the win as he stopped the Rangers on all 20 shot attempts.
The Thunder extended their lead in the second as Devries and Martin added a goal each to take a 5-0 advantage heading into the third.
Devries scored on an assist from Nayman in the 10th minute, while Martin added another of his own a little over two minutes later on an assist from Devries.
Coach Novak credited Devries for his presence on the ice.
“We used our speed to our advantage and Blake Devries really had it going,” he said. “He is a really good skater and he just had a great game.”
While the defense forced the shutout, the offense and a little luck made a big difference as well.
“On the offensive end, we played solid with good position play and of course we got a couple of lucky ones,” Novak added. “But we will take those. Overall we just played a really solid game.”
Alec Humke scored the final goal of the contest for the Thunder in the fourth minute on assists from Kael Delzer and Ryan Nolan.
Rushmore will play Sioux Falls today at 2:35 p.m. The Flyers edged the Huron All-Stars 3-2 in the other semifinal game. Novak is confident his team will be ready once the first puck drops.
“We are just happy,” Novak said. “This team has worked real hard and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’m just happy that we are back in the championship, and I am so proud and I have no doubt these kids will play their best.”
Grizzlies snap Rush winning streak
Despite losing the previous four mathchups with the Rapid City Rush, the Utah Grizzlies’ offense came alive in the final two periods en route to a 5-2 victory at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah on Saturday.
The Rush took the lead early as Tyler Poulson scored in the second minute and Cedric Montminy added to it in the 14th.
In what was a quick swing of momentum, the Grizzlies came back to score three goals in the second period. Goals from Mitch Maxwell, Gabriel Verpaelst and Mike Economos put Utah up 3-2 with four minutes remaining in the second.
In the third period, Utah pulled away for good on goals from Teigan Zahn and Economos.
The Grizzlies finished the game with a 34-33 advantage in total shots, including a 21-8 second period.
Rapid City (26-29) will look to bounce back Monday night when they take on Utah to close out the road trip.