(RAPID CITY, SD) – Dante Salituro’s hat trick, completed on a third period shorthanded goal, was the icing on the cake on Saturday night as the Rapid City Rush destroyed the Utah Grizzlies with an 8-3 win on “Rush Fights Cancer Night”.
The Rush burst for three goals in each of the first two periods of play, setting a high paced tone for their “Rush Fights Cancer Night”. Dante Salituro got things started at 7:18 of the first period as a result of a play started when Peter Sivak fed Daniel Leavens on his forehand entering the Rush attacking zone. Leavens forced the puck on net, and Salituro deflected the puck by Utah goaltender Sean Maguire to give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Sivak and Leavens assisted). Sivak cashed in for his 10th goal in his last 7 games from Salituro moments later, taking a Salituro feed from behind the net and banked it off the bar and in give the Rush a 2-0 lead with 6:07 left in the first (Salituro had the lone assist). Kenton Miller finished the first period with a wrist shot uncontested by Maguire to give the Rush a 3-0 lead with 2:06 remaining in the period (Sivak and Chase Lang assisted). At that point, Maguire was removed from the game and replaced by Angus Redmond, who would complete the first period and start the second frame.
Redmond suffered the same fate as Maguire and surrendered three goals, all to Rush rookies, in the second period as the Rush pulled away from Utah. Tyler Dereksy kept the puck in the Grizzlies zone on the blue line and found Anthony Collins down low next to the Utah net. Collins fed an oncoming Deresky, who rifled a shot by Redmond to extend the Rush lead to 4-0 with 6:56 gone by in the second (Collins had the lone assist). Dereksy found himself on the scoresheet again moments later when he threw the puck on Redmond’s net under two minutes after he scored. Redmond made the initial stop, but Jack Walker nonchalantly poked the puck past Redmond to make it a 5-0 Rush lead with 8:40 played in the second (Deresky and Lang assisted). With under five minutes to go, Eric Shand cocked back for a shot on the blue line that got through traffic and was deflected by Alex Kromm past Redmond to give the Rush 6 unanswered goals and a 6-0 advantage with 5:42 left in the second (Shand and Deresky assisted). The Grizzlies, undeterred, finally solved Rush net-minder Adam Vay with just tenths of a second remaining in the frame to end his shutout bid. With exactly 0.6 seconds left, Taylor Richart found Jon Puskar in Vay’s crease, and the latter squeaked it home to cut the Rush lead to 6-1 heading into the third period (Richart earned the lone helper).
Maguire came back in the game for Redmond to start of the third period, but surrendered two goals in his return to play. Dante Salituro re-established the six-goal lead for the Rush when he fired a rocket from Peter Sivak just 33 seconds into the final period for his second of the night, bringing the Grizzlies thrashing to a7-1 count (Sivak and Ian Brady assisted). Less than a minute later, James Melindy notched his first of the season on a beauty of a shot, stopping the puck skate to stick on his blue line, carrying the puck to the net, and backhanding a shot in close range over Vay to make it a 7-2 game just 63 seconds into the third (Brad Navin had the lone assist). While shorthanded shy of the midway point of the third, Salituro completed his hat trick when Daniel Leavens was, for some reason, left all alone to field the puck deep in the Grizzlies zone. Leavens found Salituro streaking down “Main Street”, and Salituro zipped a wrist shot top shelf to make it an 8-2 Rush advantage with 11:30 left in the game for his first professional hat trick (Leavens and Miller assisted). Austin Ortega got the last word for Utah with 2:50 left in the game when he ripped a shot from the far wall that squeaked by Vay and in, bringing the game to its 8-3 final score.
Adam Vay won his second game in a row, and fourth straight over Utah, by stopping a whopping 53 shots of 56 fired on his net (7-8-1). Including last night’s overtime win, Vay has stopped an impressive 99 shots on 105 attempted in two starts against Utah this weekend.
The Rush will conclude their four consecutive matchups against the Grizzlies tomorrow on Sunday, January 21st, which is our second annual “Faith Game”. Puck drop is slated for 3:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.