Reeder goes off with four-point effort, Boron stones 42 shots
Rapid City 6, Fort Wayne 1
Rapid City, SD — In a best-of-five playoff series that saw it all: suspensions, fines, bad hits, and a lot of trash talk, the Rapid City Rush did what they do best Sunday night…they played hockey, and they played it well.
The Rush came out hard, they came out fast, and they scored often. Behind four first period goals, the Rush won the decisive Game 5 of the Turner Conference semis over the Fort Wayne Komets, 6-1.
When it was all said and done, the three-time defending IHL champions, the Fort Wayne Komets, went home…season finished. The defending CHL champions, the Rapid City Rush, advanced to play Colorado in the Turner Conference Finals.
“I know there are thousands of people in Fort Wayne that thought they would be making the 20-hour trip home and would be getting ready for Colorado, but we have a lot of resilient players in that locker room,” said Rush head coach Joe Ferras. “We knew what they were going to do, and we came out prepared.”
Rapid City learned a valuable lesson in Game 3 of the series when Fort Wayne rallied from a three-goal deficit. After the loss, Ferras said they should have “stepped on their throats.” In Game 5, they did. This time, the energy Rapid City brought to the ice at the start of the game continued until the final horn sounded.
Energy, energy, energy
After Friday night’s loss in Fort Wayne, both teams hopped on the bus and traveled 18 hours and more than 1,000 miles back to Rapid City. Despite undoubtedly tired legs and minds the Rush came out flying. Konrad Reeder led the way.
When the Rush traded for Reeder midseason the club needed someone who could create a spark night-in and night-out. Reeder did it all season, and he certainly brought it in Game 5, scoring two goals and assisting on two more.
“The crowd was unreal tonight and that gave us a lot of energy,” said Reeder. “There is something about sleeping in your own bed and getting back to your family. It rejuvenates you and it really helps me to get to see my two little boys. Home ice was big for us. That’s why we fought for 66 games for it.”
Reeder set the tone right away scoring the opening Rush goal with only 1:01 gone in the first period. Colt King won the puck on the boards, and lifted it to Ryan Menei who grabbed it with his hand and fired on goal. Fort Wayne goaltender Kevin Reiter gave up the rebound and Reeder was waiting, backhanding the puck into net.
“It was a character win to come back after they had the momentum in the series,” said Reeder. “We came out and stormed them. After the first and the second period, we talked about (Game 3). They’re champions over there for a reason. We knew they weren’t just going to roll over.”
(Photos Seth A. McConnell/IDS)
Only four minutes later, Les Reaney scored his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs. On a powerplay, Reaney fed the puck to Vladimir Hartinger at the point. The d’ man fired and Reaney deflected it in.
Reeder again sparked the Rush on their next tally. Again on a man-advantage, Reeder shot from the top of the circle and another big rebound fell to Riley Weselowski who slid it home. Only 11 minutes into the decisive Game 5, the Rush led 3-0.
“We beat a really strong organization and team tonight,” said captain Scott Wray. “We’d be lying if we said we weren’t awestruck after giving up that lead (Game 3). We came out flat (in Game 4) because of it. We had a choice tonight: come out flat, or come out the way we did. We just fed off the crowd. We were excited to get home and play tonight.”
The Komets only goal of the night came when Derek Patrosso scored on a powerplay. After Wray made it 4-1 with his second goal of the playoffs, Reeder again went to work.
Wray forced the Komets to turn the puck over deep in their own zone with a check, Reeder controlled the puck at the boards and slapped one on net. Derek LeBlanc deflected it in.
The goal chased off Reiter who had been outstanding in games 3 and 4. The Fort Wayne netminder stopped only 8-of-13 shots.
“We didn’t get a bounce and we didn’t get a break tonight,” said Fort Wayne head coach Al Sims. “We generated 46 shots and they got 6 goals on 24 shots. They’re an opportunistic team. We took the no. 1 team to the limit, and I’m proud of my guys.”
Reeder then finished off the Komets. King led a breakaway and backhanded the puck on net, Reeder streaked in from the wing and slid the rebound over the goal line.
Boron saves season-high 42 shots
It may have been Tim Boron’s best performance yet as a member of the Rush. It was certainly his most important. The man who came to Rapid City midseason again proved why having two top-notch goaltenders is crucial to a hockey club.
“About 3/4 of the way through the morning skate I found out I was playing tonight,” said Boron. “They were moving the puck well, and when it is do or die, I will thrown anything I can in front of it. It’s the playoffs and I will do whatever I have to so we can to get the W’.”
Boron stoned a season-high 42-of-43 shots for the win.
“Tim was unbelievable,” said Ferras. “Once we knew Danny (Battochio) wasn’t a 100 percent, we weren’t gonna take a chance. We don’t have a backup here, we have two no. 1 goalies. What is he now? 12-3. That’s insane.”
Hartinger, LeBlanc, Menei, Weselowski, and King all had two points on the night for the Rush.
The Rush will open up the best-of-seven Turner Conference finals on Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center at 7:05 p.m..