ECHL Game Recap: Rapid City Rush vs. Wichita Thunder | 4/11/2024

Rapid City Rush/ECHL

The Rapid City Rush kicked off their last series of the season with a nice home win against the Wichita Thunder.

Starting Lineups

The Wichita Thunder started with a forward trio of Bradley Marek, Jay Dickman, and Mitchell Russell. They had a defensive pairing of Dominic Dockery and Tyler Jette with goaltender Trevor Gorsuch in net.

The Rapid City Rush started with a forward trio of Alex Aleardi, Brett Davis, and Blake Bennett. They had a defensive pairing of Jarrod Gourley and Tyson Helgesen with goaltender Christian Propp in between the pipes.

First Period

The Rush started the period hot and were controlling the puck most of the time. After multiple shots, the Rush would find the back of the net first with a nice tic-tac-toe goal from Brett Davis, 5:47 into the period. Davis’ goal gave the Rush a 1-0 lead and was assisted by Blake Bennett and Alex Aleardi. The Rush then extended their lead with a powerplay goal from a Will Riedell shot near the blue line 18:37 into the period. Riedell’s powerplay goal was assisted by Ilya Nikolaev and Keanu Yamamoto.

The Rush finished the period up 2-0 after outshooting the Thunder 13-11 in the first period.

Second Period

The Rush would continue to control the game and find success in the second period. 2:56 into the period, Alex Aleardi was able to pick the puck off of a Thunder player’s stick to head up the ice. Aleardi found Brett Davis, who found Blake Bennett, who found Aleardi again, and Aleardi found the back of the net to give the Rush a 3-0 lead.

With only 2.8 seconds left in the period, Thunder forward Nick Nardella picked up a rebound in front of the net to get the Thunder on the board. Nardella’s goal was assisted by Brayden Watts and Michal Stinil.

The Rush finished the period with a 3-1 lead after outshooting the Thunder 16-8.

Third Period

After a busy first and second period, the third period started out rather quiet. 15:07 into the period, the Thunder were able to bring themselves within one of the Rush with a goal from Mitchell Russell. Russell’s goal was assisted by Nolan Kneen and Bradley Marek.

But the Rush were not going to let the Thunder get back in the game that easily. 17:44 into the period; Blake Bennett was able to pick the puck up off of two Thunder players who collided with each other to spring him and Alex Aleardi on a 2-on-0. After a few passes between each other, Bennett was able to put the puck home to put the Rush up 4-2. Bennett’s goal was assisted by Aleardi and Kenton Helgesen.

In an attempt to get back in the game, the Thunder pulled their goalie. Rapid City would find the back of the net again with an empty-net goal from Will Riedell. Riedell’s goal came 18:33 into the period and was assisted by Blake Bennett and Alex Aleardi. But the Rush were not done quite yet, as Wichita pulled their goalie again. This time, Jake Stella scored his first career goal. Stella’s empty-netter was assisted by Brett Gravelle and Ilya Nikolaev.

The Rush were outshot by the Thunder 13-11 in the third period.

Final Stats and Thoughts

Rapid City ended up winning by a score of 6-2 and outshot the Thunder 42-31. For the Thunder, goaltender Trevor Gorsuch had 36 saves on 40 shots faced for a save percentage of .900. Meanwhile, Rush goaltender Christian Propp made 29 saves on 31 shots for a save percentage of .935. The Rush were absolutely dominant on special teams, going 1/1 on the powerplay and 3/3 on the penalty kill. The Thunder really struggled with special teams as they went 0/1 on the penalty kill and 0/3 on the powerplay.

While Rapid City stepped off the gas for a bit in the third and almost let Wichita back in the game, the Rush played a pretty good game. They defended a lot better than they have in previous games, they were really able to find their offensive power, and Christian Propp stood on his head between the pipes like normal. One main standout in the game was the Aleardi-Bennett-Davis line which combined for a total of ten points. Aleardi and Bennett have been good for the Rush all season, but the addition of Davis has been the cherry on top for that line with the amount of speed and skill that they all have.

The Rapid City Rush and Wichita Thunder are back in action against each other on Friday, April 12, with puck drop at 7:05 pm MDT.

Felicity Harding

Hello! I'm Felicity and I mainly cover the Rapid City Rush in the ECHL here at Inside the Rink. You can find me on Instagram and X/Twitter at @fharding05

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