(WEST VALLEY CITY, UT) – Justin Hache tied the game late for the Rapid City Rush with 2:29 left in regulation, but the Utah Grizzlies notched the second point thanks to Mike Banwell’s overtime winner to defeat the Rush 6-5 on Friday night.
The Rush struck first in what ended up being a four-goal period between both teams. Just 5:32 in the contest, Brett Perlini notched his eighth goal of the season when he batted in a rebound off of a Zach Tolkinen shot by Utah goaltender Ryan Faragher, lifting the Rush to an early 1-0 lead (Tolkinen and Brenden Walker assisted). Under four minutes later, however, Utah struck back and tied things up when leading-scorer Jon Puskar fired a wrist shot on a two-on-one by Rush net-minder Austin Lotz to square things up at 1-1 with 10:31 left in the frame (Mathieu Aubin notched the lone helper). Erik Bradford gave the Grizzlies the lead over two minutes later when he drove the Rush net and squeaked the puck by Lotz to push the Grizzlies to a 2-1 lead with 8:08 left in the frame (Taylor Richart provided the lone assist). Capping off the crazy first period of scoring, Johnny McInnis deflected a Mike Banwell shot from the far wall of the Rush zone by Lotz with 2:47 left in the first to extend the Utah lead to 3-1 heading into the second period (Banwell and Erik Bradford assisted, with the latter earning his second point of the night).
The Rush stormed right back in the second and evened things up against the Grizzlies. Josh MacDonald started things off with a power play goal, deflecting a Brenden Walker slap pass by Faragher to bring the Rush within striking distance at 3-2 with 11:04 remaining in the second (Walker provided the lone helper). The captain tied it moments later when MacDonald stole the puck deep in the zone and found Ryan Walters in front of the net for a deflection by Faragher to square the game up at 3-3 with 9:05 left in the second (MacDonald notched his second point on the assist). Utah pulled ahead with the lead when Mathieu Aubin took advantage of a turnover late on a Rush penalty kill, sliding the puck by Lotz to re-take the lead at 4-3 with 2:12 remaining in the second (Tim Daly and Ralph Cuddemi notched the assists). Exactly 37 seconds later, however, the Rush tied things up once again when Ryan Misiak found Michael Young crashing the net on a two-on-one rush, tying the contest at 4-4 with 1:35 left in the period (Misiak and Walker assisted, with Walker earning his third assist of the game). At the end of the second, Ryan Faragher would leave the game due to injury, and Ryan McKay would finish the contest in his stead.
Utah took the lead with over half of the third period gone by in what was an exciting end of regulation. With 8:53 left in the game, Mike Banwell fired a shot from the blue line off of a faceoff win that deflected off of multiple objects and by Lotz to give the Grizzlies a 5-4 advantage (Erik Higby and Erik Bradford notched the helpers). With 2:29 remaining in regulation, however, the Rush had one last kick, and it came from a newcomer on the back-end. In Justin Hache’s Rush debut, he fired a laser from the near wall off of a faceoff win by Ryan McKay to square the game up at 5-5 and force overtime (Ryan Walters had the lone assist).
Utah secured the second point when Mike Banwell knocked in a rebound off of a Ralph Cuddemi shot on a two-on-one break to win it in overtime, 6-5 (Cuddemi had the only assist).
Austin Lotz fell for a second consecutive start in overtime, stopping 25 shots on 31 faced (0-2-2).
Both teams will rematch tomorrow night at the Maverik Center, with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. MST.