(WEST VALLEY CITY, UT) – Cedric Montminy extended his goal-scoring streak to four games and helped lead the Rapid City Rush to a 2-0 lead after one period, but the Utah Grizzlies scored five unanswered goals to take a 5-2 win on Saturday night. The loss ends the Rush winning streak at 4 games, and is the first time they’ve lost to Utah in regulation since December 15th.
The Rush jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, behind an offensive barrage that saw them outshoot the Grizzlies 19-7. Tyler Poulsen put the Rush on the board first when he took a Chris Leibinger pass in the Grizzlies zone, carried it to the slot area, and fired a quick shot on the Utah net. The shot appeared to deflect off of a Grizzlies defender and squeaked by goalie Joe Cannata, giving the Rush a 1-0 lead 2:51 into the action (Leibinger had the only assist). Towards the end of the period, Cedric Montminy ignited the goal lamp for a fourth straight game off of an offensive zone faceoff. With 5:01 left in the first, Justin Faryna won the draw to Garrett Klotz on the wing, with Klotz finding Montminy on a backhanded pass in between the hash marks. Montminy fired a shot under the blocker of Cannata to make it a 2-0 lead (Klotz and Faryna assisted).
Down 2-0, the Grizzlies came back into the game with the help of special teams, and ultimately took a 3-2 lead into the locker room. While shorthanded, Mitch Maxwell found a wide open area and took a pass from Turner Ottenbreit, coming in all alone into the Rush zone from the blue line in. With 7:01 gone by in the second, Maxwell tucked the puck under Rush net-minder Adam Carlson, halving the Rush lead to 2-1 (Ottenbreit had the lone assist). Moments later, on the fourth Grizzlies power play of the game, Gabriel Verpaelst fired a one-timer from the slot on a Caleb Herbert pass, beating Carlson through traffic to square the game at 2-2 with 9:09 left in the second (Herbert and JT Henke assisted). Utah ended their scoring rally after a bout of 4-on-4 hockey with Mike Economos coming out of the penalty box. Undefended, Economos took a Taylor Richart pass in the Rush zone on a breakaway, and squeaked it by Carlson, giving the Grizzlies a 3-2 advantage with 20 minutes to go (Richart and Teigan Zahn assisted).
Teigan Zahn pulled the Grizzlies away for good with less than five minutes played in the final period to help the Grizzlies to their first regulation win over the Rush since December. With 4:58 played, Zahn threw the puck towards the Rush net, and it appeared to deflect off of the paraphernalia of a player in front, re-directing it by Carlson to give Utah a 4-2 lead (Will Smith and Mike Economos assisted). Economos ended his three-point night with an empty-netter to seal the deal with less than two minutes to go, ending the Rush win streak at 4 games, and giving Utah their first win over the Rush since December 15th at 5-2.
The Rush conclude their six consecutive matchups against the Utah Grizzlies, with the series currently shifted to West Valley City, Utah this week. Puck drop for the final game on Monday, March 18th is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at the Maverik Center.