Blaze forward David Gilbert (center, rear) scored two goals but Bloomington fell 5-3 in Rapid City on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. (Photo by Sonja Erickson)
By Greg Halbleib
RAPID CITY, S.D. - The Bloomington Blaze dropped a back-and-forth affair to the Rapid City Rush 5-3 on Saturday night at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The Blaze opened the scoring with 9:28 left in the opening period on a blast by David Gilbert assisted by Tyler Gron and Jared Walker. The Rush tied the game with 6:08 left in the first period when Jarrett Konkle deflected a face-off win by Damien Surma. Blaze goaltender Dan Dunn left the game with 5:15 remaining in the first period when Rush defensemen Justin Sawyer knocked Dunn to the ice behind the Blaze net and drew a major and game misconduct for charging. Jon Booras converted on the long power play with 41 seconds left in the first period on a rebound goal assisted by Steve Makway and Matthew Larke to put the Blaze ahead 2-1 at the first intermission.
The Rush tied the game at 2-2 when Scott Brannon found the net from the right circle just 18 seconds into the second period, assisted by Riley Weselowski and Jeff Lee. Konkle gave the Rush a 3-2 lead on a power play with 11:00 left in the middle period on a redirected shot from Jamie Vanderveeken. The Blaze tied the game in the final second of the middle period when Gilbert drove home a pass to the left post from Kyle Bochek, with the second assist given to Sebastien Trudeau to send the game into the second intermission even at 3-3.
Rapid City took a 4-3 lead just 1:01 into the third period when Rusty Masters grabbed a turnover in the right circle and scored. The Rush increased the lead to 5-3 with 15:28 remaining when Konkle completed his hat trick on a 5-on-3 power play, assisted by Surma and Vanderveeken. The Blaze emptied the net and were given a power play, but could not convert in the final seconds.
Gerry Festa took the loss with 11 saves, as the Blaze outshot the Rush 33-21. Tim Boron picked up the win in net with 30 saves. The Blaze were 1-for-9 on the power play while the Rush were 2-of-5. The Blaze remain in third place in the Central Hockey League standings with the season series with the Rush evened at 2-2-0.
The Blaze return to action on Thursday at home against the Missouri Mavericks with a 7:05 p.m. opening face-off. Pre-game on WJBC.com and CHL-TV begins at 6:45. The Blaze take Friday off before visiting Tulsa on Saturday night.
Junior Blaze fall in OT: The Junior Blaze gave up a goal in the final minute of regulation and lost in overtime 5-4 to the Soo Firehawks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Steven Smoltz scored twice to lead the Junior Blaze, who conclude the weekend series at Soo at noon Sunday.