WEST VALLEY CITY, UT — Rapid City dug themselves into an early hole, down 4-1 after 20 minutes of play, but battled back to force overtime before losing 6-5 to the host Utah Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Utah got on the board early when Phil Pietroniro pocketed the loose puck in front of the Rapid City net and got the three inch piece of rubber by Rush netminder Adam Morrison at 1:11. This was Pietroniro’s first professional goal.
Rapid City would tie the game back up when Michael Young sniped the puck top shelf by Grizzlies netminder Troy Redmann at 12:52. This was Young’s sixth goal of the season.
Utah would storm back to finish off the opening frame, scoring three goals in less than five minutes. The first came from Erik Bradford at 14:16 to put Utah up 2-1 during 4-on-4 hockey, stuffing the puck through the 5-hole. Ralph Cuddemi would net the first of his two goal performance on the night at 18:19, firing a wrister on the powerplay. Mathieu Aubin finished the offensive onslaught at 19:25 taking a centering feed in the slot before firing the puck by Morrison.
Utah continued to pour salt on the wound, going up 5-1 at 7:50 of the 2nd period after Jon Puskar gets control of a loose puck in front of the Rush net and gets it by Morrison.
It would have been easy for the Boys from the Black Hills to pack it up after being down 4-1 after the opening period, then to fall behind 5-1 after another loose puck gets away from them. But the level of fight in this time is much greater, only matched by their level of competitiveness.
The rally started at 10:28 of the middle frame when Josh MacDonald scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season to cut the deficit to 5-2. Late in the 2nd period Mark Cooper would score his first of two goals on the night at 19:09 to pull the Rush within 5-3 at the end of the middle frame.
Nearly halfway through the final period Riley Weselowski finally tallied his first goal on the season, the official time at 9:03 while on the powerplay, and pulled Rapid City within a single score of tying the contest. Rapid City completed their comeback at 19:29 with a highlight-worthy backdoor shot by Cooper that sent Mark Binetti into a frenzy during the radio broadcast on 100.3 The Fox.
The Rush and Grizzles now head to extra time to determine the winner. The odds have not been in Rapid City’s favor, as they’ve gone 0-for-6 on games ending in overtime this season.
Tonight would not be any different, with Cuddemi scoring the game winner again in as many nights at 2:48 of extra time.
Troy Redmann gets the win again, stopping 23-of-28 shots faced while Adam Morrison again takes the loss stopping 24-of-30 shots faced.
Nothing for the Rush to hang their heads about as far as tonight’s contest is concerned. Bad bounces are known to affect every team throughout the season. If they can clean up the garbage in front of their net then the wins should slowly start to pile up, especially with a three game series against Utah at home next week.
The final three rounds of this tilt will take place in Rapid City with “Round 3” kicking off on Wednesday at 6:35pm MT.