(RAPID CITY, SD) – Riley Weselowski triggered a shower of teddy bears from the home crowd and scored along with Shaquille Merasty and Pierre-Luc Mercier, but Adam Carlson shut the door on the Utah Grizzlies, tied as the best team in the ECHL, and earned his second shutout of the season on 33 saves in a 3-0 win on Saturday night. The win ends a three-game series against the Grizzlies, in which the Rush took 5 of a possible 6 points against a team tied for first place in the entire ECHL.
For the first time in this series, the Rush not only provided the game’s first goal, but also took a lead after 20 minutes of play against the Grizzlies. For just the third time in the history of the Rapid City Rush organization’s “Teddy Bear Toss”, a defenseman scored the “Teddy Bear Goal”, and fittingly enough, it was off the Captain’s stick. With 7:48 left in the first, Quintin Lisoway won an offensive zone draw to Brayden Sherbinin on the back end, who then deferred to Riley Weselowski. Weselowski unloaded a one-timed shot by Utah goalie Joe Cannata to trigger a shower of teddy bears and give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Sherbinin and Lisoway assisted). Rush net-minder Adam Carlson stopped all 10 shots he saw in the period.
Shaquille Merasty doubled the Rush lead on the third Rush power play of the game to give the team a two-goal lead after two periods. Just under five minutes into the period, Chris Leibinger sprung the puck from his own zone up to Tyler Poulsen, who gained the Grizzlies blue line and threaded the puck ahead to Merasty. At 4:27, Merasty rifled a shot by Cannata to put the Rush on top 2-0 (Poulsen and Leibinger assisted). Carlson again denied the Grizzlies on the scoreboard, stopping an additional 8 shots to bring his save total to 18 after 40 minutes, and helped the Rush penalty-kill hold the Grizzlies to an 0/4 count on the man-advantage in the second.
Pierre-Luc Mercier added the insurance goal in the final moments on an empty-net goal. With Cannata pulled for the extra attacker at the end of a Utah power play, Mercier settled the puck up the ice, and met Nolan De Jong one-on-one in front of the benches. With 2:47 left in the game, Mercier maneuvered around De Jong and fired the puck into the empty four-by-six to make it a 3-0 Rush lead (Andrew Radjenovic had the lone assist). Adam Carlson stopped the final 15 shots he saw to hold on for his second shutout of the year, this coming against the co-number-one team in the ECHL.
Carlson’s shutout came on 33 saves after 60 minutes for his seventh win of the season (7-3-2-1).
The Rush now embark on a two-week road trip in which they play 8 games in 12 nights, the first 5 of which come in 6 nights. The trip starts on Tuesday morning, December 4th against the Allen Americans, with puck drop slated for 9:35 am MST at the Allen Event Center.