(RAPID CITY, SD) – Ryan Walters scored twice in the final period make the game interesting in the latter stages of regulation, but the Allen Americans staved off the Rapid City Rush on the strength of their early lead, winning by a 4-2 score on Sunday afternoon.
Allen opened the scoring entries with a late strike in the first period, set up on a transition play. After a Rush offensive flurry, Chris Crane led the Americans in transition, handing off deep in the Rush zone to Chad Costello. Costello sent the puck from the far corner of the Rush zone to Vincent Arseneau, who fired a shot from between the faceoff circles past Rush net-minder Danny Battochio to put the Americans up 1-0 with 3:31 left in the first period (Costello and Crane notched the assists).
Allen tripled their lead by the end of the second, taking advantage of a series of miscues on the Rush defense. J.P. LaFontaine put Allen up 2-0 as he sent a slow rolling puck by Battochio after Gary Steffes was left all alone in front of the Rush net. LaFontaine was there to pick up the rebound on Battochio’s initial stop for his fifth of season that came with 7:53 left in the second frame (Steffes and Casey Pierro-Zabotel earned the assists). With less than three minutes remaining, Dave Makowski activated off the Rush blue line and sent a feed from Chad Costello in the backdoor by Battochio, tripling the Americans lead to 3-0 with 2:15 left in the second (both Costello and Crane earned their second assists of the game on the goal).
Ryan Walters continued his red-hot beginnings with the Rush and put his team on the board in the early moments of the third period. With 16:45 left in the game, Brian O’Rourke fired a shot that was deflected right to the tape of Walters, who fired a shot over a sprawled out Americans netminder in Riley Gill, cutting the Allen lead to 3-1 (Lindsay Sparks and Josh MacDonald notched the helpers). With time winding down, Danick Gauthier put the Americans on the power play with around two and a half minutes left in the game. Despite the disadvantage, Walters and Sparks came down the ice, two-on-two, and after Walters’ initial shot was blocked by Gill, he put the rebound off the post and in, scoring the third “shorty” of the season for the Rush, putting his team down 3-2 with 2:14 left in the game (Sparks garnered the lone assist, his second of the night). After the penalty was killed, the Rush pulled Battochio for an extra attacker, but Chris Crane sealed the game with his third point, scoring an empty-net goal from Gary Steffes with 8 seconds remaining, giving the defending champs a 4-2 win over the Rush, as well as the season series sweep.
Danny Battochio stopped 23 of 26 shots on net in the defeat (17-16-3).
The Rush remain home this upcoming weekend to take on the Idaho Steelheads. Friday night’s matchup features “Superhero Night”, complete with super hero-themed specialty jerseys, and begins at 7:05 p.m. MST.