(RAPID CITY, SD) – Kenton Miller caused a crowd of 5,000 school children to erupt with cheers with his first hat trick of the season, and along with the two-point nights of Daniel Leavens, Josh Elmes, and Evan Janssen, powered the Rapid City Rush to a 6-3 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday morning. The game marked the first-ever morning home game in Rush history as a way to celebrate the team’s “Rush to Read More” initiative in local Rapid City schools.
Anthony Collins got 5,000 school children to scream their heads off when he got the Rush on the board to start the contest. Playing in his 100th game in a Rush uniform, Collins gave the Rush a 1-0 lead when he threaded the needle from a sharp angle through a miniscule hole over the shoulder of Utah goalie Sean Maguire with 8:41 gone by in the contest (Josh Elmes and Evan Janssen assisted). Taylor Richart tied the game moments later on a blue line rocket that whizzed by a screened Rush net-minder Adam Vay to square things up at 1-1 (Brendan Harms and Kyle Thomas assisted). Kenton Miller then received a “Hail Mary” pass from Josh Elmes in neutral ice, shred off two defenders, and broke towards the Utah net. Miller deked Maguire with a forehand/backhand maneuver in close range, and pushed the Rush ahead 2-1 with 4:41 left in the first (Elmes and Gustav Bouramman assisted).
Ryan Walters tied the game up in the early stages of the second period, but the Rush would still enter the next intermission with the advantage. With 1:39 gone by, Walters squeaked the puck by Vay on the short side right on his near post to square the game at 2-2 (Austin Ortega got the lone assist). Shy of the midway point of the period, Miller forced a turnover in the Grizzlies zone and worked the puck around with Jack Walker and Evan Janssen as options. The puck made its way around the horn to Miller in the slot, who rifled it by Maguire to give the Rush a 3-2 lead with 8:21 played in the second (Walker and Janssen assisted).
Once again, Utah fired back in the first two minutes of the final period to tie the game up. Brendan Harms pocketed a Brad Navin rebound in close range of Vay’s net to square the game at 3-3 with 1:52 gone by in the final period (Navin had the lone assist). Yet again, the Rush fired back to take the lead, and this time they wouldn’t look back. With 11:42 left in the game, Dante Salituro found Pavel Jenys in the slot with an east-west pass, and Jenys unloaded a rocket by Maguire to put the Rush ahead for the final time tonight to take a 4-3 lead (Salituro and Daniel Leavens assisted). Kenton Miller then completed his hat trick when he took advantage of an egregious turnover in the attacking zone and zipped a shot by Maguire to make it a 5-3 Rush lead with 2:41 left in the game (the goal was unassisted). Daniel Leavens sealed the deal with an empty-net goal from center ice with just under two minutes to play to give the Rush an eventual 6-3 win (the goal was unassisted).
Adam Vay stopped 24 of 27 shots in the win, now in double-digits in the win column (10-12-1).
Both teams will rematch Friday night, February 9th, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.