ECHL: Rapid City Rush vs. Fort Wayne Komets | 1/10/2024

Photo Credit: Rapid City Rush via Instagram

The Rapid City Rush and Fort Wayne Komets faced off for the first time in the 2023-24 ECHL season on Wednesday night in Rapid City.

Starting Lineups

The Fort Wayne Komets started with a forward trio of Jack Dugan, Shawn Szydlowski, and Ture Linden. They had a defensive pairing of Xavier Bernard and Martin Has. The Komets started goaltender Tyler Parks between the pipes, who played his first game in Rapid City since playing for the Rush in the 2019-20 ECHL season.

The Rush started with a forward trio of Keanu Yamamoto, Brett Gravelle, and Logan Nelson. They had a defensive pairing of Tyson Helgesen and Charles Martin with goaltender Matt Radomsky in net.

Period One

The first period was a very evenly played period with a lot of back and forth hockey. The momentum did start to swing for the Rush a little 6:38 into the first period. Alex Aleardi sent a cross ice pass to Blake Bennett who then found Maurizio Colella wide open in front of Fort Wayne’s goalie, and Colella was able to sneak the puck in. The goal gave the Rush a 1-0 lead and was assisted by Bennett and Aleardi. Aleardi’s assist on Colella’s goal was his 200th career ECHL point, coming against his hometown team. The rest of the first period continued to be back and forth hockey with both teams getting looks, but no other pucks ended up in the back of the net in the first period. Shots in the first period were even at 12.

Period Two

The second period was where the pace and physicality of the game started to pick up. There were quite a few more hits being laid in this period, but that did not stop the Rush from extending their lead. Exactly seven minutes into the second period and 40 seconds left on Rapid City’s powerplay, Rush forward Blake Bennett was able to find just enough extra space to shoot the puck on net and was able to find the back of the net to give the Rush a 2-0 lead. Bennett’s goal was his second point of the night and was assisted by Jimmy Soper. Both teams got time on the powerplay in the second, but arguably the most crucial one happened 11:48 into the period when Rush forward Keanu Yamamoto was sent to the box for a high-sticking double minor against Fort Wayne’s Taylor Brierley. This penalty was a very crucial part in the game as Fort Wayne could have taken advantage of the double minor and gotten themselves within one goal, or tied the game which would have really flipped the momentum. But, the other potential outcome was the outcome that happened. The Rush were able to kill off the double minor to keep the momentum and keep their two goal lead. Only 18 seconds after killing off the double minor, the Rush were able to extend their lead to three goals. Rush defenseman TJ Fergus was able to find Tyson Helgesen back on the blue line who was able to take a shot from the blue line and find the back of the net. Helgesen’s third goal of the season was assisted by TJ Fergus and Logan Nelson. That did it for scoring in the second period as the Rush outshot the Komets 16-14.

Period Three

The Rush started to lay back and take their foot off the gas in the third period which allowed Fort Wayne to start getting some chances and looks. 6:02 into the third, Komets forward Ethan De Jong was able to sneak the puck past Radomsky to get the Komets on the board. De Jong’s powerplay goal was assisted by Jack Dugan and Carl Berglund. This would be Fort Wayne’s only goal of the game as Rush Goaltender Matt Radomsky continued to stand on his head and make some spectacular saves to bail the Rush out at times. The majority of the third period was physical back and forth hockey with the ice slanted a little more towards the Komets side. But late in the third, the Komets pulled their goalie to get an extra skater on the ice. After the Komets turned the puck over in their offensive zone, Rush forward Logan Nelson took off with Keanu Yamamoto towards the empty net. After not having a lot of room to shoot the puck himself, Nelson passed the puck to Yamamoto who shot the puck into the empty net to give the Rush a 4-1 lead. Yamamoto’s empty netter came with only 29 seconds left in the game and was assisted by Logan Nelson. The Komets ended up outshooting the Rush 16-7 in the third period.

Final Recap and Thoughts

The Rush ended up winning 4-1, but the Komets outshot them 42-35 in the game. This was a pretty physical and intense game, and both teams played really well. The first period was more of the teams feeling each other out, but then the Rush were able to play better in the second period while the Komets were able to play better in the third. Both goalies had pretty good games as they both had 30+ saves with Tyler Parks having 31 for the Komets and Matt Radomsky having 41 for the Rush. The one thing the Rush need to work on before their next game against the Komets is just playing a full 60 minutes and not letting off the gas too early. But both teams played really well 5-on-5 and both teams played well on their respective powerplays and penalty kills.

The Komets and Rush will be back in action Friday and Saturday night to wrap up the series with both games starting at 7:05 pm MST.

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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