The Rapid City Rush and Maine Mariners faced off for the first time Friday night. What turned into a bad night for the Mariners was a great night for the Rush, who also celebrated many firsts.
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Starting with the visiting team, the Rush had a forward trio of Simon Boyko, Brett Gravelle, and Logan Nelson. They had a defensive pairing of Tyson Helgesen and former Mariner Billy Constantinou, with goaltender Matt Radomsky between the pipes.
The Mariners started with a forward trio of Gabe Guertler, Brooklyn Kalmikov, and Austin Albrecht. They had Wyllum Deveaux and Ethan Ritchie on the blue line with former Rush goaltender, Brad Arvanitis, in net.
The first period was a pretty evenly played period, with both teams getting looks and both goaltenders making some big saves. The first goal of the game came after a Maine player whiffed on a pass in their defensive zone. At 8:31 into the first period, Rush forward Simon Boyko was able to intercept the puck and found the back of the net. Boyko’s first career ECHL goal was unassisted and gave the Rush a 1-0 lead. Boyko’s goal was the only goal of the first period. The Mariners ended up outshooting the Rush 12-11 in the first period.
Maine ended up flipping goalies after Brad Arvanitis suffered an injury in the first period. Regardless, Maine did come out for the second period with a little more fire than the first. But the frustrations of not being able to solve Rapid City’s goaltender cause the Mariners to see the game start to slip away from them. With 13:27 left in the second period, Rush forward Keanu Yamamoto slapped the puck from the blue line. Rush forward Maurizio Colella was able to get the deflection to give the Rush a 2-0 lead over the Mariners. Colella’s goal was assisted by Yamamoto and Kenton Helgesen. After the Rush goal, there was a video review to see if one of Maine’s previous shots had crossed the goal line, but it was determined that the puck did not cross the line. A little over a minute later, the Rush had a 2-on-1 breakaway. With 12:35 left in the second period, Brett Gravelle took a shot and was able to find the back of the net. Gravelle’s goal gave the Rush a 3-0 lead and was assisted by Logan Nelson and Tyson Helgesen. Later, Rush forward Riley Ginnell was able to pick the puck off of a Mariner player’s stick in the defensive zone and then proceeded to carry the puck all the way up the ice. With 8:28 left in the period, Ginnell was able to find Keanu Yamamoto, who found the back of the net. Yamamoto’s goal gave the Rush a 4-0 lead and was assisted by Ginnell, giving Ginnell his first career ECHL point. That did it for scoring in the second period. While the Rush outscored the Mariners 3-0 in the second period, the Mariners outshot the Rush 15-10 in the second period.
The third period saw both teams start to pick up the pace as the tensions grew, but there was not a lot of action in the third period. The lone goal of the period came with 5:47 left in the game. In his first game with the Rush, newly acquired defenseman Billy Constantinou shot the puck on the net and deflected the puck off a couple of Maine players and into the back of the net. The former Mariners’ first goal against his former team gave the Rush a 5-0 lead and was assisted by Alex Aleardi and Jimmy Soper. The Mariners outshot the Rush 9-8 in the third period.
Final Stats and Thoughts
Both team’s goaltenders played really well in Friday night’s game. Mariner’s goaltender Brad Arvanitis only played the first period, where he stopped ten of the 11 shots that he faced. Mariners goaltender Kyle Keyser played the other 40 minutes of the game where he stopped 14 of the 18 shots he faced. Meanwhile, Rush goaltender Matt Radomsky stopped all 36 shots that he faced, giving him his first career ECHL shutout. This was Rapid City’s first shutout since December 27, 2021, when former Rush goaltender Lukas Parik stopped all 46 shots that he saw in Rapid City’s 3-0 win against the Utah Grizzlies at home. The last time the Rush had a shutout on the road was on February 5, 2021, when former Rush goaltender David Tendeck stopped all 31 shots that he faced at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Rapid City’s 2-0 win over the Indy Fuel.
This game was by far one of the best, if not the best, games the Rush has played this season. They were able to play a very well-rounded game and got the results they wanted. The one downside is Maine now knows how the Rush plays and what they can possibly expect for Saturday night’s game. While the Rush did get the win, both teams are going to have to adjust some things and get ready for Saturday night’s game.
The two teams will face off again Saturday night with puck drop at 4:00 pm MST. The teams will finish off their series Sunday afternoon with puck drop at 1:00 pm MST.