Calder Brooks and Max Coatta each had a goal and an assist, Ryan Zuhlsdorf handed out three assists and the Rapid City Rush beat the Tulsa Oilers, 5-2, Wednesday night at The Monument Ice Arena. With the win, the Rush clinched their first postseason appearance since the 2014-15 season and secured home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Rapid City opened the scoring three minutes into the first period. Zuhlsdorf fired a shot that bounced off Brett Gravelle and found its way to Alec Butcher in the slot. Butcher sent a backhander through traffic that beat Daniel Mannella low and the Rush took a 1-0 lead.
They added to that lead later in the first while skating with an extra attacker on thanks to a delayed penalty against the Oilers. Gravelle controlled the puck on the right circle and found Gabe Chabot lose for a one-timer in the high slot. Chabot banged it home top shelf and the Rapid City lead grew to 2-0.
In the final minute of the first, Kenton Helgesen sent a pass through the crease that bounced off a bodies in front and eventually found its way back Helgesen on the near post. He slung a wrist shot high past Manella and the Rush extended their advantage to 3-0.
With the Rush on the penalty kill in the second period, Brooks forced a turnover at the blueline and led an odd man break with Coatta. The pair went give-and-go and Brooks snapped a wrister through Mannella’s short side, making the score 4-0.
Tulsa got on the board in the third period, first with a goal from Jackson Leef, then on a power play tally by Carson Denomie. Rapid City earned an insurance marker later in the third when Zuhlsdorf cranked a shot from the point that bounced off Coatta and in, pushing the score to its 5-2 final.
With its win over Tulsa combined with the Allen Americans’ 5-1 loss to the Iowa Heartlanders, the Rush both clinched their first playoff appearance since 2014-15 and secured home-ice advantage in the first round. Rapid City improved its record to 35-24-6-5 while Tulsa fell to 35-29-3-3.
The Rush City will return to action on Friday night for their penultimate game of the regular season. It’s Video Game and Comic Book Night, presented by Texas Roadhouse, and puck drop against the Tulsa Oilers is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at The Monument Ice Arena.