RAPID CITY, SD — The Rapid City Rush held their first ever mid-week morning game Wednesday. After a back-and-forth contest over the first 40+ minutes of action the Rush were able to pull away from the visiting Utah Grizzlies for a 6-3 “WaTiki Win”.
The Rush got the 5,119 fans in attendance, mainly school-aged kids, on their feet in a frenzy when Anthony Collins lit the lamp at 8:41 with a sharp angle goal sending the puck over the shoulder of Grizzlies netminder Sean Maguire. This was Collins’ 100th game in a Rush uniform as well. Taylor Richart squared the game at 1-aside less than two minutes later firing a bullet from the blue line by Rush netminder Adam Vay at the 10:30 mark. Rapid City got the final say before intermission regaining the lead at 15:19 when Kenton Miller was able to get a 1-on-1 with Maguire and scored with a nifty backhand for the 2-1 advantage. Utah outshot Rapid City 8-to-6 over the first 20 minutes of regulation.
Former Rush forward Ryan Walters tied the game up early into the middle frame, squeezing the puck by Vay at 1:39 to square the game at 2-aside. The tie was short-lived as Miller forced a turnover and eventually rifled the puck by Maguire for the 3-2 lead with 11:39 remaining in the middle frame. The Rush would carry that lead into the 2nd intermission, outshooting the Grizzlies 10-to-6 in the period and 16-to-14 over the first 40 minutes of regulation.
Utah again would not let the Rush ride that lead long into the frame as Brendan Harms tied the game up at 3-aside less than two minutes after the initial puck-drop. Harms was able to secure a rebound close-in on net and get it by Vay to square the contest up once more. That would be as close as the Grizzlies would get, however, as the Rush rattled off three goals to close the out the period. The eventual game winner was scored by Pavel Jenys at 8:18 who unloaded a rocket from the slot to put the Rush ahead for good. This was Jenys’ 15th goal of the season. A pair of late goals sealed the deal for Rapid City as Miller scored his hat trick with 2:41 remaining in regulation, putting the Rush up 5-3, however no one informed the kids in attendance to shower the ice with hats so the goal was without its usual “pomp and circumstance”. Daniel Leavens slammed the door on any rally for the visiting Grizzlies as he tallied an empty net goal, scoring from neutral ice, to give the fans in attendance a free trip to WaTiki to couple with an impressive mid-week win.
The Grizzlies outshot the Rush 13-to-10 over the final 20 minutes of regulation and barely held a 27-to-26 edge in the contest. Neither team could take advantage of their powerplay opportunities going a combined 0-for-12.
Adam Vay is credited with the win stopping 24-of-27 shots on the day while Sean Maguire takes the loss stopping 20-of-25 shots he faced.
This was the first-of-three games in the weekend series between the Rush and the Grizzlies. Game Two will be Friday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center with puck drop scheduled for 7:05pm MT.