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Examiner
  • Rush-ed ending

  • When Les Reany slammed the final goal of the Northern Conference semifinal series past Missouri Mavericks goaltender Gerry Festa – giving the Rapid City Rush a four-game sweep and 7-6 overtime win Friday night – the Rush players mobbed the veteran in a wild on-ice celebration.

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  • When Les Reany slammed the final goal of the Northern Conference semifinal series past Missouri Mavericks goaltender Gerry Festa – giving the Rapid City Rush a four-game sweep and 7-6 overtime win Friday night – the Rush players mobbed the veteran in a wild on-ice celebration.
    “They swept us,” Mavericks forward Bill Vandermeer said by phone after the loss, “but it wasn’t a typical sweep series. They had to work hard to win every game, especially tonight.
    “Our backs were to the wall and the boys gave it everything they had. It just wasn’t quite enough.”
    With a crowd of more than 350 watching the game at the Independence Events Center, the Mavericks put on an offensive show that saw them match their season-best total of six goals against the hottest goaltender in the league.
    Danny Battochio had given up just three goals combined in three victories heading into Friday night, but the Mavericks – led by Nick Sirota’s two goals and an assist – switched things up on offense and nearly pulled off a stunning victory.
    “We were more aggressive in the net, we went to the net harder, and it paid off tonight,” said Mavericks coach Scott Hillman. “This is a very disappointed locker room right now.
    “The boys wanted to win tonight, come back with a win Saturday and play again at home (Monday). But I’ll tell you this, there is also a lot of pride in this locker room. What an incredible performance tonight. I am so proud of the boys.”
    Sirota gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 4:59 of the first period. After the Rush knotted the score at 1-all, veteran Jeff Christian scored his first goal of the playoffs to make it 2-1 in favor of the Mavericks.
    The Rush then scored three goals in the second period, but Mike Burgoyne scored late in the period and the Mavs trailed just 4-3 going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
    The Rush scored a quick goal to take a 5-3 lead, but Brett Hammond, Toby Lafrance and Sirota scored and the Mavericks led 6-5. But Derek LeBlanc, just a minute after Sirota’s second goal, knotted the score at 6-all with 8:54 to play.
    When Rapid City was called for a penalty late in the period, Hillman pulled his goaltender to give the Mavs a 6-4 edge with just under 30 seconds to play.
    Team president and general manager Brent Thiessen, who watched the game from the Events Center, loved the move.
    “You’re down 3-0 in the series, you have the man advantage, why not?” Thiessen said. “I love it. We have the gutsiest coach in the league.”
    The strategy didn’t work, though, as the final seconds ticked off the clock and the game went into overtime (there is no shootout in the playoffs).
    Page 2 of 2 - Reany then ended the Mavericks’ season with his ninth playoff point.
    “We’re already looking forward to next year,” Christian said. “The boys worked so hard and fought to the end. I’m proud to be a part of this team.”

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