RAPID CITY, S.D. – Cincinnati Cyclones Captain Justin Vaive struck three times against the Rapid City Rush, powering the visiting side to a 6-2 win on Saturday night. The win gives the Cyclones two in three games played head-to-head this week.
For the first time in the series, Cincinnati provided the first goal, and eventually took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes of play. Nate Mitton started off scoring entries for the Cyclones on a net-front deflection of a Matthew Spencer shot, beating Rush net-minder Alex Sakellaropoulos at 12:17 of the first to give the Cyclones an early 1-0 lead (Spencer had the lone assist). The Rush counterpunched to tie the game 1:09 later on Matteo Gennaro’s second strike in a Rush uniform. With 13:26 played, Gennaro fired a shot that deflected off of a defender and arced over Cincinnati goaltender Michael Houser and rolled behind him, squaring the game at 1-1 (Brennan Saulnier and Brandon Fehd assisted). The Cyclones retook the lead with 4:56 left in the period on a mad scramble in front of the net, resulting in Cincinnati Captain Justin Vaive batting the puck past Sakellaropoulos to push the Cyclones on top at 2-1 (Justin Baudry and Jesse Schultz assisted). The Cyclones extended their lead at the buzzer when John Edwardh rifled a rebound home before the clock hit 00.0, giving Cincinnnati a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes (Andrew DeBrincat and Mason Mitchell assisted).
Vaive extended the Cyclones lead at 7:26 of the second period for his second tally of the night. Defenseman Scott Dornbrock fired a shot into traffic that deflected off of Vaive and by Sakellaropoulos to advance the lead to 4-1 (Dornbrock and DeBrincat assisted). Exactly 40 seconds later, however, Rush Captain Peter Quenneville responded with his 20th goal of the season to bring the Rush back within two. At 8:06 of the second, Brennan Saulnier fired a shot that deflected off Quenneville and past Houser to cut the deficit to 4-2 (Saulnier and Eric Israel assisted). The deflection caused an injury to Quenneville, who did not return for the remainder of the game.
Cincinnati pulled away in the third with two goals in a 36 second span, including Vaive’s third for his hat trick. Vaive provided the only Cyclones power play goal of the series at 9:07 of the third when he deflected a Jesse Schultz shot past Sakellaropoulos in front of the net, bringing the advantage to 5-2 (Schultz and Justin Baudry assisted). Over a half a minute later, Darik Angeli fired a shot between the hash marks through Sakellaropoulos’ legs to bring the game to its final score of 6-2 at 9:43 of the final period (Matthew Spencer had the lone assist).
Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped 26 of 32 shots in the defeat, his first suffered since December 21st (2-4-0-0 with the Rush, 4-8-0-0 total.
The Rush conclude their recent home stand against the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday night, January 15th. Puck drop for the Mountain Division showdown is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.