RAPID CITY, SD — Kenton Miller, Jack Walker, and Tyler Deresky led a furious charge for the Rapid City Rush, but their large lead was cut by the Utah Grizzlies, who’s rally was cut short, leading to a 6-5 Rush win on Friday night.
The Grizzlies jumped on the board first, but then surrendered three unanswered goals to give the Rush the advantage heading into the first intermission. Brendan Harms struck first when he knocked a loosely rolling puck in a scramble in front of the Rush net to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead 4:34 into the first period (Ryan Walters and Kyle Thomas got the assists). Kenton Miller fired right back for the Rush moments later on a two-on-one with Jack Walker, starting a streak of 6 unanswered goals. Walker deferred to Miller, who tapped the puck by Utah goaltender Angus Redmond to square the game at 1-1 (Walker and Daniel Leavens assisted). Following Miller’s strike, the Rush went to the penalty kill and Jack Walker went to work. Tyler Deresky poked the puck by a defender in neutral ice and went on a two-on-none break with Walker. Deresky handed off to Walker, who beat Redmond to give the Rush a 2-1 lead with 6:12 left in the first with his third shorthanded goal of the season (Deresky had the lone assist). Deresky notched a goal of his own to end the first when he took a Matt Caito pass down “Main Street” and deked out Redmond to make it a 3-1 lead with 2:28 left in the first (Caito had the lone assist).
Kenton Miller started off the second with his second of the night. Just 6:01 into the second, Miller pulled off a ridiculous snipe over the shoulder of Redmond to push the Rush lead to 4-1 (Daniel Leavens assisted). Less than three minutes following the snipe, the Rush made quick work of their first power play to make it a four-goal advantage. With 11:00 left in the second, Matt Caito found Evan Janssen all alone on Redmond’s back door, and Janssen tapped the puck behind him to pile the Rush lead to 5-1 (Caito and Tyler Deresky assisted). Andrew Miller then added his name to the goal column over the midway point of the second period. Jack Walker took a turnover in neutral ice and found Miller, who went all alone against Redmond. Miller unloaded a snipe over his shoulder, notching his first goal of the season to give the Rush a 6-1 lead with 7:47 left in the second (Walker earned the lone helper). Utah then finished the period off with three unanswered goals, starting off with Todd Skirving finishing a Ryan Misiak pass on a two-on-one in the Rush zone by Vay to make it a 6-2 Rush lead with 5:01 left in the period (Misiak had the lone assist). Exactly 37 seconds later, Brad Navin deflected a Brendan Harms pass in close range of Vay’s crease to cut the Rush lead to 6-3 with 4:24 left in the second (Harms had the only assist). Ryan Walters then struck on a five-on-three power play with a one-timer from Austin Ortega to finish the scoring entries of the second with 1:43 left in the period to make it a 6-4 Rush advantage heading into the third (Ortega had the lone assist).
Austin Ortega made things interesting when he brought the Grizzlies within one goal late in the third period. With 5:50 left in the game, Ortega banked a shot from behind the goal line off of Vay and in, bringing the Rush lead to 6-5 with a fourth unanswered Utah goal (Walters and Kyle Thomas assisted). Pulling Redmond from his net for an extra-attacker, Utah threw everything they could at Vay and the Rush in the final 93 seconds, but the Rush staved off the rally and held on for a 6-5 regulation win, their second in two meetings this week.
Adam Vay, in his eighth straight start, stopped 17 of 22 shots (11-12-1).
Both teams will play for the final time this season Saturday night, February 10th, marking the Rush’s “Marvel Super Hero Night”. For the first time in team history, BOTH the Rush and Grizzlies will wear special jerseys: the Rush will wear Captain America-themed uniforms, while the Grizzlies jerseys are fashioned after Iron Man. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.