Rush Dash Thunder Playoff Hopes, 6-3
WICHITA, KS – The Rapid City Rush put a big nail in the tires of the Wichita Thunder’s hopes of making the playoffs, downing Wichita on Friday, 6-3. That moved the Thunder to third in the Mountain Divisioin, two points ahead of the Utah Grizzlies and Kansas City Mavericks who each have played two fewer games than Wichita. Michal Stinil scored two goals, reaching the 30 goal plateau.
Logan Nelson scored the only goal of the first period, netting his 20th goal of the season to give the Rush a 1-0 lead. He took a shot from near the blueline that found its way past Trevor Gorsuch.
Rapid City poured it on early in second, scoring two goals within the first five minutes. The first came at 2:13 when Brett Gravelle put in his 12th tally of the year. An attempt by Wichita to clear the puck out of their zone was knocked down at the blue line by Matt Marcinew, who passed the puck to Gravelle at the side of the net. He redirected the puck by Gorsuch to make it 2-0.
At 4:17, Quinn Wichers scored his first goal of the year. Ilya Nikoleav took a shot that Gorsuch kicked aside, but Wichers put in the rebound to make it 3-0.
The Thunder were down but climbed back into the contest, scoring two goals in the final six minutes of the frame. Stinil made it 3-1, scoring on the power-play at 14:09. Stinil was trying to find Jay Dickman at the far post, but his passing attempt hit off a skate and past Adam Carlson.
At 18:22, Brett Boeing used a relentless forecheck to create a turnover in the Rush zone. He then passed the puck to Peter Bates who buried a shot for his 21st goal of the year.
The Rush restored their two goal lead, scoring the first two goals of the third period. Jimmy Soper scored his 21st goal of the year at 5:40 when he took a pass from Gravelle and beat Gorsuch to the blocker. At 13:35 Marcinew joined Wichers on a 2-on-1 break into the Thunder zone. Wichers fed the puck to Marcinew, who blew a one-timer by the Wichita goaltender to make it 5-2.
Stinil scored his second power-play goal of the game with 2:14 left to cut the deficit to two, but Marcinew put in an empty net tally to close out the scoring, sealing the victory.
Brayden Watts had two assists and Gorsuch made 44 saves for Wichita. Gravelle had three points for Rapid City and Marcinew and Wichers each had two points.
The Wichita Thunder (32-32-6) are off until Friday when the play a home-and-home with the Allen Americans (34-30-3). Friday night is in Wichita. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier