(WEST VALLEY CITY, UT) – Garett Bembridge tied the game with his first Rapid City Rush goal in the second period, but the Utah Grizzlies struck three times in the latter parts of the middle frame to defeat the Rush by a 4-1 count on Friday night.
Ryan Walters provided the only offensive push in the first period for either side, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes. The puck bounced loosely in neutral ice, and Walters picked it up in stride, got around the Rush defender, and beat Rush net-minder, Sam Marotta, to put Utah on the board with 5:57 left in the period (the goal was unassisted).
Garett Bembridge notched his second point in his second game with the Rush, but his first by ignition of the goal lamp early in the second period. With just 74 seconds gone by, Cody Ferriero forced a turnover deep in the Utah zone, and from the corner threw the puck on net. The puck came to Bembridge, who knocked the puck by Grizzlies goaltender Mark Owuya, tying the game at 1-1 (Ferriero earned the lone assist). Utah took over halfway through the second period and would not look back, relying on their special teams for the go-ahead goal. Just 21 seconds into their fourth and final power play, Eric Knodel sent a wrister through traffic from the point, by Marotta, and in, giving the Grizzlies another lead at 2-1 with 5:47 left in the frame (Charlie Sarrault and TJ Syner notched the assists). In the last minute of the frame, the Grizzlies struck twice 33 seconds apart to pull even further ahead. The first goal came from Sarrault, who earned his second point of the game by burying a wrist shot in the midst of an odd-man rush to double Utah’s lead to two goals at 3-1 with 47 seconds remaining in the second (Corey Fienhage and TJ Syner got the assists, with Syner earning his second helper of the game). Over a half minute later, Alex Krushelnyski went on a partial breakaway, and despite a Rush defender catching up to him, sent the puck over Marotta in close range to give Utah a 4-1 advantage with 14 seconds remaining in the frame (Ryan Walters picked up the lone assist). Despite numerous third period chances, including two power plays, the Rush couldn’t solve Owuya, who finished with 36 saves, eventually falling to the Grizzlies by a 4-1 score.
Sam Marotta stopped 40 of 44 shots in the loss, falling to 3-5-0 on the season and 0-4-0 with the Rush.
Both teams will rematch tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. MST at the Maverik Center, and will not meet again until February 15th for a Monday matinee showdown. The Rush still have five games remaining on their seven-game road trip entering tomorrow night’s encore matchup.
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