(RAPID CITY, SD) – Kelly Klima tied a franchise record for most goals in a game with 4, leading the Rapid City Rush to a 4-3 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Friday. The game served as the 12th home-opener in Rush history, and the win marked the team’s first on home-opening night since 2015.
For a fifth time in six games played this season, the Rush provided the first goal of the contest and left the first 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead. Kelly Klima, assigned to the Rush from Tucson this morning, wasted no time in getting involved with his new team. With 8:11 gone by, Klima received a pass through neutral ice, turned on the jets, and was gone on a breakaway, finishing with a forehand-backhand five-hole shot through Grizzlies net-minder Mason McDonald to put the Rush up 1-0 (Tyler Poulsen and Trey Phillips assisted).
The second period featured a special teams exhibition from both teams, with each goal in the frame coming on the power play. Utah’s Colin Jacobs struck first with seconds left on the Grizzlies third power play of the game when, while parallel with the goal line towards the corner, he flung the puck off of Rush net-minder Erik Källgren and in, squaring the game at 1-1 with 4:14 played (Ryan Wagner and Brandon Saigeon assisted). Josh Dickinson put the Grizzlies up on the second power play goal of the game on a snipe from the far wall, firing over the top of Källgren’s shoulder to give Utah a 2-1 lead with 9:05 gone by in the second (Taylor Richart and Cole Cassels assisted). Klima made the Grizzlies pay again on the ensuing Rush power play just over two minutes later with a snipe of his own from the far wall that went off the back bar to square the game at 2-2 with 8:50 remaining in the second period (Eric Israel and Peter Quenneville assisted).
Klima’s debut heated up in the final 20 minutes as he clinched the hat trick early in the frame to put the Rush on top for good. Just 2:24 into the action on the seventh Rush power play of the game, Giovanni Fiore found Klima wide open in the slot area of the Grizzlies zone. Klima buried his shot into a virtually open net to give the Rush a 3-2 lead, capping off the hat trick in his Rush debut (Fiore and Quenneville assisted). Not satisfied with three, he fired off a fourth goal moments later, tying the Rush franchise record for most goals scored in a single game. With 11:30 left in the game, Klima picked up the rebound on a mad scramble in front of the net, vaulting the Rush to a 4-2 lead on three unanswered goals (Brennan Saulnier and Trey Phillips assisted). Josh Dickinson ended the Rush’s offensive run with a goal late in the game, flipping a shot over Källgren’s glove on a rush down the ice to bring Utah within one with 3:45 left in the game (Wagner and Griffen Molino assisted). Special teams was an overarching theme of the game, so it was only fitting that the final moments featured a brave stand on the penalty kill for the Rush. With 1:48 remaining in regulation, Rapid City’s Tyler Poulsen was called for a boarding penalty that put Utah on the power play for the rest of regulation. Pulling McDonald for the extra-attacker, the Grizzlies fired at the Rush in a six-against-four barrage, but the Rush held on and took the win by a 4-3 score against Utah.
Erik Källgren stopped 27 of 30 shots on net, winning back-to-back starts (2-1-0-0).
The Rush conclude home-opening weekend with a rematch against the Utah Grizzlies tomorrow night, October 26th. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Following tomorrow night’s game, the Rush will auction off the 10th Anniversary Championship Throwback Jerseys that they’re wearing throughout this weekend.
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