(WEST VALLEY CITY, UT) – Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel brought the Rapid City Rush within one goal with 1:46 left, and Brian O’Rourke had a career night, but the Utah Grizzlies held off the Rush in the latter moments of the game, winning 5-4 on Saturday night.
The first frame featured four ignitions of the goal lamp, with three coming from the Grizzlies. Josh MacDonald notched the first two of the game for his Utah club, his first coming just 1:23 into the game. Alex Krushelnyski kept the puck in the Rush zone and found MacDonald down low, finishing the play by wrapping the puck around the net of Rush net-minder, Danny Battochio, and in for a Grizzlies 1-0 lead (Krushelnyski notched the lone assist). Moments later, the Rush earned their first power play of the night on a delay of game call against Ryan Walters, and the visiting team struck to even the score. With 4:01 played in the opening frame, Taylor Doherty kept the puck in on the blue line and found Dan O’Donoghue on the near wall of the Utah zone. O’Donoghue found Mikhail Stefanovich alone in the middle of the zone, and sent the puck right into his wheel-house, prompting a one-timer shot that blew by Utah goaltender Ryan Faragher that tied the game at 1-1 (Doherty and O’Donoghue got the assists). The Grizzlies pulled ahead minutes later on MacDonald’s second of the game, which was accomplished on a deflection from a Ryan Walters pass to bring Utah back on top with a 2-1 advantage with 13:56 left in the frame (Walters earned the lone assist). Kenton Helgesen extended the Utah lead to 3-1, errantly throwing the puck at Battochio’s net, getting a deflection in front of the net to go off of the post and behind Battochio with 2:33 left in the first (Brent Gwidt and Jason Binkley earned the helpers).
Erik Higby got Utah off to a hot start 64 seconds into the second period as he rifled a wristshot by Battochio from the far faceoff circle to extend the Utah advantage to 4-1 (Shayne Taker and Roberts Lipsbergs earned the helpers). The goal prompted the substitution of Danny Battochio in net for Sam Marotta, who played the remainder of regulation. Following the goaltending substitution, the Rush came back and brought the game within striking distance, starting off with Stefanovich’s second goal of the night. His fourteenth goal of the season was made possible on a back-door feed from Brian O’Rourke, who gave Stefanovich a wide-open net to bury, bringing the Rush deficit to 4-2 (O’Rourke earned the only assist). With less than three minutes to play in the frame, O’Rourke added onto his stellar performance with his first goal as a pro, cleaning up a trickling puck off of a Spencer Pommells shot to bring the Rush within one goal at 4-3 (Pommells and Erickson assisted his first professional tally). Unfortunately for the Rush, Utah would separate themselves again to a two-goal advantage on Kenton Helgesen’s second strike of the game, coming with 5 seconds left in the period from the side of Marotta’s net. The goal gave Utah a 5-3 lead, with Higby earning his second point and Brent Gwidt notching his second assist on the goal.
The final twenty minutes of the game were a battle, and the Rush earned quality chance after quality chance, eventually giving Utah a scare. With 1:46 left in the game, Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel found a rebound at the blue-line and unloaded a shot by Faragher, bringing the Rush back within range to tie the game at 5-4 (the goal was unassisted). After the tally, Marotta was pulled from the Rush net, affording the visitors an extra-attacker scenario. Despite the odd-man opportunity, Faragher and Utah staved off the Rush rally and hung on for a 5-4 win.
Danny Battochio made 10 stops on 14 shots in 21:04 of game time. Sam Marotta stopped all but 1 of 18 shots thrown towards in net in 37:37 of relief, receiving the loss (3-6-0 on the season).
The Rush have completed part one of their seven-game road trip, and gear up for their third matchup of the year against the Quad City Mallards. Puck drop for the first of two contests against the Flock is set for Wednesday, February 3rd, at 5:35 p.m. MST in the iWireless Center.
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