(WEST VALLEY CITY, UT) – Pavel Jenys extended his goal-scoring streak to four games, and Kenton Miller brough the Rapid City Rush within striking distance in the last thirty seconds, but the Utah Grizzlies staved a thunderous Rush comeback to take a 5-4 win on Friday night. The loss now gives the Rush eight consecutive defeats.
Ryan Misiak started the scoring entries past the midway point of the first period. With 7:26 left in the first, Misiak went on a two on one down the ice after a rebound came to Kyle Thomas. Misiak elected to pass, but the pass rolled off of the diving defender and behind new Rush net-minder, Shane Owen, and in, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead (Thomas and goaltender Angus Redmond assisted). Erik Higby made it 2-0 on the fourth Grizzlies power play of the first period, burying a back-door rebound after an initial stop by Owen to put the Grizzlies up by a pair heading into the second.
The Rush cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second period on probably the best story in the ECHL this season. Tommy Maxwell, the former Utah Grizzlies forward that came out of retirement after a three and a half year hiatus last week, put the Rush on the board when the puck was turned over to him in the high slot. Maxwell blasted a shot of the post and in behind Utah goalie Angus Redmond to cut the lead to 2-1 with 6:25 left in the second (the goal was unassisted).
Pavel Jenys drew the game level for the Rush and gave them some life early in the third. With 13:13 left in the game, Jenys took a pass from Peter Sivak right down main street in the Utah zone, and burned Redmond over his glove to square the game at 2-2 (Sivak and Kenton Miller assisted). Under two minutes later, however, Greger Hanson got the Grizzlies back on top and they wouldn’t look back. With 11:59 left in the game, Hanson buried a Chris Leibinger pass to make it 3-2 Grizzlies (Leibinger and Mike Pelech assisted). Kyle Thomas advanced the Grizzlies lead to 4-2 when he ripped off a highlight-reel goal under two minutes later with 10:08 left in regulation (Hanson and Ryan Olsen assisted). Evan Janssen, undeterred, brought the Rush back within one when he took an area pass in the near faceoff circle of the Utah zone and burned Redmond under his glove to bring the Utah lead to 4-3 with 7:03 left in the game (Dante Salituro and Jack Walker assisted). Despite the momentum, Utah fired back moments later when Pelech took a pass from Greger Hanson after he wrapped around the Rush net, and potted it for a 5-3 Utah advantage with 4:03 left in the game (Hanson and Mitch Jones assisted). Kenton Miller notched the final goal of the game with another burn under Redmond’s glove with 23.1 seconds left, burying another Peter Sivak pass to bring the Rush to a 5-4 deficit (Sivak had the lone assist). In the last ten seconds of the contest, with the goaltender pulled, the Rush had two offensive zone draws to try and muster a game-tying goal. Kenton Miller won the first faceoff, and a shot from Josh Elmes hit a body in front of the net and failed to roll over the goal line. After Redmond swallowed the puck, the Grizzlies took the second draw and ran the clock out, narrowly escaping with a 5-4 win.
Shane Owen stopped 37 of 42 shots in his Rush debut, suffering the loss in 59:25 of action.
The Rush head back home to play three games against the Idaho Steelheads prior to the Christmas holiday on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday December 20th, 22nd, and 23rd. Puck drop for all three games at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST.