ECHL: Savannah Ghost Pirates Sweep Rapid City Rush
Photo Credit: Gary McCullough/Savannah Ghost Pirates

Savannah Ghost Pirates vs Rapid City Rush

The Ghost Pirates, currently ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference, traveled to South Dakota to play against the Rapid City Rush. The Rush, ranked 14th in the Western Conference, had just ended an eight-game skid and were looking to monopolize the roster changes and put more wins in their stats. The Savannah Ghost Pirates (22-28-4-1) dominated Rapid City Rush (20-33-2) starting Wednesday night with a 6-2 victory, taking them to a two-win streak, and welcomed back Joe Fleming from his stint with the Henderson Silver Knights.

Wednesday, 2/28/24

The Ghost Pirates led the first period, with Brent Pedersen continuing his streak of goals, including his last three appearances. Jordan Kaplan, who leads the league with a 38.5% shooting average, followed 40 seconds later with his first goal of the night.

The second period saw the Ghosts Pirates Jordan Kaplan scoring again, bringing us to 3-0. Goalie Jesper Vikmam, fresh off his shutout against Atlanta’s Gladiators, denied all twelve shots on goal during this period by the Rush.

Third period started with Rush Forward James Hardy, making it a 3-1 game. The Ghost Pirates answered back with a second goal of the night by Brent Pedersen and two single goals coming from Anthony Collins and Logan Drevitch, bringing the Ghost Pirates to a 6-1. Rapid City Rush closed the game with one last goal by Blake Bennet, bringing the final 6-2, with Jesper Vikman producing 30 out of 32 saves.

The Ghost led the night in Penalties, totaling 6 for the night. A high stick by Pirates Alex Gilmour kicked it off less than two minutes in. Fleming came in hot on his return defending Kyle Jeffers in the first period of play, throwing the gloves off with Rush’s rookie Riley Ginnell, resulting in a 5-minute Major for both teams.

Credit Savannah Ghost Pirates on X
Photo by Savannah Ghost Pirates on X.

The team took a much-needed group outing to Mount Rushmore to see the carved stone before facing the Rush on Friday. During this time, Goalie Jesper Vikman was called to the Henderson Silver Knights, leaving the Ghost Pirates to call on Denver Johnson to back up Goalie Michael Bullion. Dever Johnson is a Local member of the Rapid City Rush and is only allowed on the ice if Michael Bullion gets injured. Vikman was called to Henderson, so the rush had to provide an emergency backup as the series host.

Friday, 3/1/24

The Ghost Pirates scored 40 seconds into the first period with Peter Tischke‘s Goal, and this was his first goal since his 2019-2020 season with The Utah Grizzlies. Keltie Jeri-Leon and Jordan Kaplan assisted on goal. Logan Drevitch then swoops in for his second goal of the three-game series with an assist by Keltie Jeri-Leon Michael Bullion closed out the period with 11 saves.

2nd period saw Sebastian Vidmar score the only goal of the period, with assists by Brent Pedersen and Joe Fleming. This period saw the Ghost Pirates making 13 shots on goal and the Rush making 11. Michael Bullion continued to deny the Rush of a score.

Third period starts with the Rush making the first move two minutes in and again at 11 minutes, bringing the score 3-2 Ghost Pirates. Tanner Vescio answers with a goal on the Power Play with less than two minutes on the clock.

Rush started and led the night with penalties starting at 16:35 in the first for hooking. Savannah saw their first penalty of the night in the second period when Tanner Vescio took a penalty to protect the goalie and threw gloves and hands with Rushes Tyson Helgesen after he rushed in. Anthony Collins almost jumped the boards to get to his teammate’s assistance. At the same time, Sebastian Vidmar was grabbed by Maurizio Colella in a headlock, adding more chaos to the commotion that was already taking place. The fisticuffs resulted in a five-minute major for both teams, closing the second period.

In the third period, the Ghost Pirates came out swinging when Matthew Boudens and Alex Aleardi dropped gloves seconds into the period. Aleardi, answering for the hit from behind on Peter Tischke, gets taken to the ground by the Ghost Pirates Captain. Every Savannah player on the ice paid their respect to the captain in his defense of his players. The Ghost Pirates closed out the rest of the period with no penalties against them and a Power play goal when Rush’s Tyson Helgesen tripped up Alex Gilmore. The Power Play goal closed the Friday night game at 4-2. Goalie Michael Bullion, with 33 of 35 saves, proved that the Ghost Pirates bring the heat no matter who is in the net.

Saturday, 3/2/24

The Ghost Pirates bringing Violence in Hockey back in the first period as tempers and emotions ran high in this final game of the three-game series. Rushs Captain Alex Aleardi kicked off the period, scoring 1:04 seconds in. The Ghost Pirates answered the call, and Ryan Scarfo, with an assist by Sebastian Vidmar(14a), 13:36 into the game, brought it to 1-1. The Rush bounced back, taking the lead at 14 in with Blake Bennet, who picked off Tischke and ended up in the goal. Logan Drevitch, with an assist by Sebastian Vidmar and Brent Pedersen, brought the heat with a one-timer shot at 17:03 into the game to close out the first period 2-2. Goalie Michael Bullion with 9 saves this period.

Second period saw the Ghost Pirates playing all gas, with no break when 1:23 into Keltie Jeri-Leon, assisted by Brandon Estes, scored, making it 3-2, giving Savannah the first lead of the game. Kyle Jeffers, with an assist by former Rush Keltie Jeri-Leon, brought Savannah 4-2. Less than a minute later, Kyle Jeffers, assisted by Anthony Collins and Alex Gilmour, scored again, bringing the Ghost Pirates to 5-2 and putting Jeffers on Hatty watch. This is Jeffers first multigoal game as a pro. Michael Bullion with 13 saves this period. Rapid City rush then pulls their goalie Matt Radomsky, who Jason Pawloski replaces. Radomsky has had numerous games with three or more goals allowed this season. This closed out the second period with the Pirates still leading 5-2.

Third period saw the Ghost Pirates scoring 8:12 with Brandon Estes seeing his 5th of the season assisted by Alex Gilmour and Keltie Jeri-Leon. Bringing the score 6-2 Savannah. Less than 2 minutes later, Captian Brent Pedersen, with an assist by Logan Drevitch, scores his fourth goal of the series against the Rush, bringing the score to 7-2. The Rush’s 18 shots on goal were not able to get one past Michael Bullion, leaving the Ghost Pirates to score the last goal of the game with a goal by Alex Gilmour with an assist by Brent Pedersen and Nolan Valleau. Closing out the game at 8-2 and sweeping the series against the Rapid City Rush.

Even with emotions running high and the first minute of the game almost erupting into more than an exchange of words, the Ghost Pirates only had four penalties, none for fighting or roughing. The first period saw the first penalty coming from the Rush with a roughing call from Kenton Helgesen for their high hit on Kaplan. Kaplan was knocked to the ground and could get up and to the bench alone. He did not return to the game after the first period ended. Joe Fleming had a shoving match with Zack Hoffman, leading to Parker Bowman putting Alex Gilmour in a headlock. The Ghost Pirates saw their share of hooking, slashing, interference, and delay of game, but no one came to blows like the two previous meetings in this series. Logan Drevitch came close when Jimmy Soper and James Hardie came for retribution after Logan’s slashing call. Logan Drevitch had no lack of emotions about the two Rush Players that came after him. The final penalty of the game was Joe Fleming’s delay of the game.

Savannah Ghost Pirates’ AHL and NHL affiliates

The Ghost Pirates close out the series with three more wins, showing that they can handle the pressure regardless of the members who are pulled to Henderson Silver Knights. Will the Vegas Golden Knights continue to be plagued with injuries, relying heavily on the Silver Knights and relying on the Ghost Pirates to fill those spots? We don’t know. We know that The Ghost Pirates are on to their next opponent, the Swamp Rabbits of Greenville, South Carolina, on Thursday, March 7th, in Greenville.

Stephanie DeLaFleur

Beat Writer covering the ECHL Savannah Ghost Pirates, NHL Vegas Golden Knights and AHL Henderson Silver Knights. Follow me on X @StephiDelafleur

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