earned his first win on home ice as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Utah Grizzlies by a 5-2 score on Friday night.
The Rush bought into their first-goal mentality and cashed in early on special teams. With 5:17 gone by in the game, Spencer Pommells found the puck in a scramble in front of the Utah net, and poked it by goaltender Mark Owuya to push the Rush to a 1-0 lead (Winston Day Chief and Anthony Mastrodicasa got the assists). Just over two minutes later, Pommells hit pay dirt a second time, finishing a series of passes from Lindsay Sparks and Winston Day Chief with a wrist shot that went off of Owuya and in, doubling the Rush lead to 2-0 with 12:27 remaining in the frame (Sparks and Day Chief registered the helpers). Utah found some life of their own on special teams and cut their deficit to the closest it would be all game long. On the Grizzlies first power play of the game, Mike Ratchuk fired a wrist shot from the blue line through traffic and it beat Rush net-minder Sam Marotta to bring the Grizzlies to a 2-1 deficit with 8:33 left in the first (Charlie Sarrault and Matt Berry notched the assists).
Pommells capped off his brilliant scoring touch tonight with the third goal required for his first professional hat-trick in the last minutes of the second period. While Utah was on their third power play of the game, Winston Day Chief, joined by Pommells, went on an aggressive forecheck in the Grizzlies third of the playing surface. The puck caromed to Pommells on the wall and he fired a shot under the blocker of Owuya to trigger a shower of hats and put the Rush up 3-1 while shorthanded with 2:55 left in the middle act (the goal was unassisted). Mark Miller continued to pile it on for the Rush, sending a rebound off of a Ryan Walters shot by Owuya, who was sprawled out of his net, to triple the Rush lead to 4-1 with 14.6 seconds left in the second (Walters and Ryan Misiak assisted the goal).
Utah’s Barry Almeida helped bring his team back within two, scoring his team’s second power play goal in the process. With 5:31 played in the final period, Almeida tucked a rebound off of a T.J. Syner shot by Marotta to pull Utah to a 4-2 deficit (Syner received the lone assist). With less than a minute to play, Brett Kostolansky completed the Rush scoring entries with his first of the season, sending a neutral zone shot into an empty-net with the Grizzlies in the midst of an extra-attacker situation. His unassisted tally lifted the Rush to the conclusion of their win, 5-2 over Utah.
Sam Marotta stopped 28 of 30 Utah shots faced, earning his first win on home ice this season (8-12-2).
The Rush conclude the regular season in a rematch with the Grizzlies tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MST.
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