RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Komets had a 17-hour ride home to mull the game that got away.
They allowed the only goals of the third period – Colt Kings power-play tally and Josh Beaulieus short-handed goal – in Rapid Citys 4-3 victory Saturday, which gave the Rush a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Turner Conference semifinals.
Were going to think about it, but then were going to let this game go, Komets forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said.
And what a game it was for the 4,666 fans at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
There was Schrocks heroic effort to gut through a laceration he suffered on his foot in the 5-2 series-opening loss and score in the first period Saturday to tie it at 1.
I wanted to go and there were a lot of guys injured who played through pain, Schrock said.
And there was the wild night Sean OConnor had, starting with his early hit on Rush star Ryan Menei. OConnor blasted Menei, who was carrying the puck across the blue line. Menei, who appeared to be hit in the shoulder/neck area, didnt return, and the incident set off a series of fracases, including a fight between OConnor and Rush captain Scott Wray.
I saw (Menei) coming and I knew it was going to be a bad angle, OConnor said. I didnt want to get him high, and hes probably a little shorter than me, as well. I know Ive been in that same situation before many times. I stopped skating when I saw how bad of an angle it was going to be. I wanted to knock him off the puck; I didnt want it to be at his head.
It was good for their captain to step in there and do what he did. I hope (Menei) is all right. Im not a type of dirty player like that. Weve just got to move forward and Ive got to put that past me, too.
The Rush asked the league to review the play for possible suspension, even though OConnor didnt get a penalty for the hit.
Ten years ago, that might be a great hit, Rush coach Joe Ferras said. But with the new rules of the game – the speed, the size of players – its on the onus of the player making a line change, knowing its a lateral, blind-side hit, and hes got 20 feet to decide what hes going to do. It was a complete head-shot, blind-side, Rule 48, causing a serious injury. Its a no brainer. Colt King would be hung in the rafters of Fort Wayne if he did a hit like that to (Komets star) Colin Chaulk.
Rush goalie Danny Battochio didnt come out for the second period because of an undisclosed injury – he stopped 12 of 13 shots – and Ferras didnt know whether he would be available for Wednesdays Game 3 at Memorial Coliseum.
OConnor was targeted in the second period, with the Rush up 2-1. Rush forward Les Reaney, who had scored both goals, crushed OConnor into the boards and drew a major penalty. That led to 3:30 of 5-on-3 hockey, during which the Komets got a goal from defenseman Matt Krug after a cross-ice pass from OConnor.
They were all coming after me, but I fought their captain and felt I did well with that, OConnor said. Im not one to fight, and I dont think hes one to fight, either. They were coming after me, but I want them to run at me.
The Komets took a 3-2 lead at 12:25 of the second period when the puck slipped underneath backup goalie Tim Boron and Chaulk poked it into the net.
After Fort Wayne defenseman Dustin Molle took a penalty for a retaliatory punch early in the third period, the Rush got the equalizing goal from King at 1:50.
The Komets had a late power play to regain the lead, but left wing P.C. Drouin coughed up the puck at the point, setting off a 2-on-1 rush that saw Kings shot get stopped by Nick Boucher before Beaulieu tucked it in at 13:58.