WEST VALLEY CITY, UT — A late goal by the Rapid City Rush brought them within striking distance but it wasn’t enough as the Utah Grizzlies sweep the series winning 5-4 on Saturday night.
Former Rush forward Ryan Misiak was the first to light the lamp at 12:34 of the opening frame, his sixth goal of the year. Taking advantage of a 2-on-1 opportunity Misiak’s pass was blocked by the defender but the puck inadvertently rolled by Rush netminder Shane Owen to give the home team a 1-0 lead. The Grizzlies had four powerplay opportunities in the opening period and Erik Higby was able to cash in on the final one when he took the feed from Taylor Richart and pocketed the goal at 17:49 to give Utah a 2-0 lead heading into the 1st intermission.
The Rush got some life in the middle frame when Tommy Maxwell, a former Grizzlie who has come out of retirement to help the shorthanded Rush, took a turnover in the Utah zone. He unloaded a cannon to get the puck by Utah netminder Angus Redmond and put the Rush on the board at 13:35. Utah would hold onto their 2-1 edge heading into the final period.
The Rush were able to square the contest up in the 3rd period when Pavel Jenys took the feed and fired top shelf at 6:47 to knot the game up at 2-2. Jenys extended his goal scoring streak to four games with that tally. Utah would answer back with a pair of goal less than 120 seconds apart. Greger Hanson took a backdoor pass and tapped in the goal at 8:01 to put the Grizzlies back up 3-2. They would double their lead at 9:52 when Kyle Thomas danced through the defense and went top shelf for the 4-2 edge for Utah. The Rush would battle back, however, when Evan Janssen took the puck from Jack Walker and found a lane, firing the puck under Redmond’s glove at 12:57 to pull the Rush within a striking distance. Utah regained their two-goal advantage at 15:57 when Michael Pelech took the feed from Mitch Jones and pocketed the eventual game winner scoring on the backdoor attempt. Rapid City never quit and battled hard for the final four minutes of regulation. Kenton Miller was able to take the feed and burned Redmond under his glove to make it a 5-4 contest at 19:37. Rapid City won an offensive zone draw with just ten seconds left in the game and Josh Elmes fires a shot from the far wall that is deflected and stays in the crease and Redmond held on for the whistle. Rapid City couldn’t get another shot on net to force overtime as the final horn sounded. Utah holds on to win the game 5-4 and sweep the 3-game weekend series against the Rush.
Shots-on-goal favored the home team as Utah outshot the Rush 42-to-33 on the night. They also went 1-for-6 on the man advantage while the Rush couldn’t find the back of the net on their two powerplay opportunities.
Angus Redmond is credited with the win stopping 29-of-33 shots on the night while Shane Owen takes the loss stopping 37-of-42 shots.
Rapid City returns home for a 3-game series with the Idaho Steelheads before the Christmas holiday. The first game will be Wednesday, December 20th, followed by games on Friday and Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena for all three contests.