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Rush Win Northern Conference Title Despite 5-4 Shootout Loss to Gorillas

March 20, 2010 - Central Hockey League (CHL) - Rapid City Rush News Release

(Amarillo, TX) - In the second to last game of the regular season, the Rapid City Rush dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the Amarillo Gorillas, but clinched the Northern Conference title for the first time in team history. The Rush picked up the one point needed to secure the title and now have home ice advantage throughout the Northern Conference half of the playoffs. Rapid City takes the title from the Colorado Eagles who have who, until now, had won their respective division or conference for six straight seasons.

The Rush were the first to get on the board at the 12:58 mark when Colt King buried his 27th goal of the season. Blaine Jarvis cycled the puck to King, and the powerforward undressed a Gorillas defenseman out of the corner and backhanded a puck five-hole on Mike Brown for the 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, the Gorillas got on the board when defenseman Neil Smith found David Nimmo in the slot, and the winger notched his 29th of the season to tie the game. Later in the period, Derek Campbell had an apparent goal waived off by the referee, ending the period in a 1-1 tie.

In the second, Colt King would strike again, regaining the lead for the Rush. Blaine Jarvis collected a loose puck for a short 2-on-1 then found King at the top of the crease, and the veteran sent a backhand shot home for the goal. The Gorillas then received their first powerplay opportunity of the game and converted when Shaun Arvai's shot deflected then made its way through a screen to tie the game at 2. Just over 1:30 later, Amarillo scored on their second powerplay chance of the game when Jake Morissette fired a slapshot over Battochio for the first lead in the game. With the second period winding down, Blaine Jarvis found an open Brendan Cook who fired a snapshot top shelf to tie the game at three heading into the second intermission.

Derek LeBlanc scored his 19th of the season just 1:45 into the final period to give the Rush a 4-3 lead. After a turnover on the Amarillo blueline, Jon Pelle tipped the puck to LeBlanc who raced in alone and snapped a shot home under the blocker. Near the midway point of the 3rd, the Gorillas scored on their third straight powerplay, this time it was Andrew Smale who smacked home a rebound to make it 4-4.

With neither side finding the game-winner in the third or overtime, the Rush and Gorillas headed to a shootout, where the teams had a combined 1-11 record coming in.

All five Rush shooters were stopped by Brown while Battochio stopped the first four attempts, but Jake Morissette scored in the final round to secure the 5-4 win for Amarillo.

The Rush now play the Odessa Jackalopes tomorrow at 6:05pm MST in the final game of the regular season. Tune into the broadcast on 100.3 the FOX.

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