Menei knocked out of game with concussion after questionable hit
Rapid City 4, Fort Wayne 3
After one period of play on Saturday night the Rapid City Rush had lost arguably their two best players to injury. Ryan Menei, the team’s leading goal scorer and point earner, left the game with a concussion 2:27 into the first period. Danny Battochio, who led the Rush to the CHL championship last season in net, left after the first period with an lower-body injury.
At the end of the second period, Rapid City trailed the three-time defending IHL champions, 3-2. However, behind another greesy-goal effort from Colt King, and another short-handed tally from Josh Beaulieu on a slick pass from King, the Rush edged the Komets 4-3 late and will take a 2-0 series lead to Fort Wayne.
Wild night at the rink starts in the opening minutes
There has been a lot of talk about the lack of a rivalry between the former IHL teams and CHL teams. Well, if you witnessed the first period at the Rushmore Ice Arena Saturday night, you know that those claims best be thrown out the window.
After a Ryan Menei hat trick and Rush win in Game 1, the tone was set in the opening minutes between two physical clubs. Menei was knocked out the game after a blindside hit from Fort Wayne’s Sean O’Connor.
Full story of the incident here: http://insidedakotasports.com/menei-knocked-out-with-concussion-hit-questioned
What followed the Menei incident was 29 infractions for a grand total of one hour and seven minutes of penalties. Of the seven goals scored in the game, only two came with five players on the ice for both teams. Four of the scores came via the power play, but the shocker came with the game knotted at 3-3 with six minutes remaining in the game.
With the Komets on their 10th power play of the night, King stole the puck and streaked down the wing on an odd-man rush with Beaulieu. Fort Wayne goaltender Nick Boucher attempted to swat the puck away from King but he passed through the goalie’s legs to a wide-open Beaulieu in the blue paint. Beaulieu punched it in for the game-winner.
“It was a huge character game,” said Beaulieu. “I’m sure they’ll review that play (hit on Menei) and when you lose your top player you take it upon yourself to go out there and do it for him. That win was for Ryan Menei because he has won so many games for us.”
It was Beaulieu’s third short-handed goal this season and fifth short-handed point for the Rush.
“I don’t know,” said Beaulieu about his knack for coming up with short-handers. “I knew it was big shift for us to kill a penalty, and I also knew we needed a big goal. It was a great play by Kinger and I just capitalized.”
For King, he continued his torrid playoff form. He had scored the 3-3 equalizer earlier in the third period when he put back a rebound off of a Dave Grimson shot from the point. It was King’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
“We deserved most of those penalties (against), but we had some big kills,” said King. “Most importantly, we stuck together and that was the key to our success last year. Guys are starting to buy in and if we stick together we’re tough to beat.”
Rapid City’s two other tallies were scored by Les Reaney. Last season’s playoff MVP again leads the Rush this post-season with five goals and four assists.
“Obviously, Ryan and Batsy being out was big,” said Reaney. “The win tonight guarantees a game back here. They’re great in their barn and it’s going to hard to go there and take a game. We’re confident enough that we think we can do that. 2-0 is big for us, and now we have to take advantage.”
Penalties, power plays, and penalty kills all night long
Down 1-0 in the first period, the Komets fought back courtesy of the power play. Kaleigh Shrock equalized late in the first. With less than 1:30 remaining in the period, Schrock finished an odd-man rush with the pass coming from Dan LaPointe. At the intermission, Battochio left the game with an injury and did not return, making way for Tim Boron.
Ferras said he didn’t yet know Battochio’s status for Game 3.
In the second period, Fort Wayne collected back-to-back power play goals to take their first lead of the series. The first resulted from a 5-on-3 when O’Connor’s cross-ice pass set up Matt Krug at the left faceoff circle who slapped it into an open net. At 12:25, Colin Chaulk netted in his third of the weekend, tapping home a rebound that gave the Komets the lead, 3-2.
“They’re a good team and they play hard,” said captain Scott Wray. “We’re evenly matched and it was a battle. We were in the box for 38 minutes and that can’t happen. But we showed a lot of guts. They (Fort Wayne) said when they were coming off the ice that they were going to win this in five, I would like to see them do that,” he said tongue-in-cheek.
(Photos Seth A. McConnell/IDS)
Boron saved 20-of-22 shots in the relief win, and Boucher stopped 25-of-29 shots. Fort Wayne scored on 2-of-10 power plays, but the Rush killed off a five-minute power play in the second, a four-minute 5-on-3, and even though the Rush allowed a goal on Krug’s tally, they fought off the remaining two minutes to keep the game tied.
“They went 2-for-10 on the power play but that is so skewed,” said Ferras. “It should be 2-for-14 since we killed a five-minute major and four minutes of 5-on-3 play. It’s incredible they killed all those off in the second period.”
Fort Wayne head coach Al Sims was short in the post-game interview following his club going down 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
“I’m not going to discuss the refereeing and I’m not going to discuss the third period. The answers are in the locker room.” He said.
The two clubs will meet in Game 3 in Fort Wayne on Wednesday. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. MST..
*IDS will be in Fort Wayne for Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary). We will have features, interviews, photos, game stories and more. Follow the Rush on the road at IDS all next week.*