(RAPID CITY, SD) – Diego Cuglietta broke a third period deadlock with the game-winning tally as part of a two-point, and powered the Utah Grizzlies to a 3-1 win over the Rapid City Rush on Saturday night. The game marked the end of a two-game home-opening weekend series for the Rush, and was also “Rapid City Thrillers Night”, where the team rebranded to the CBA basketball team of the same name from the 1980’s and 1990’s.
The “Thrillers” started the game on the right foot and jumped out to an early lead, but the Grizzlies countered quickly to square the game up after 20 minutes. At 6:58 of the first period, Jack Suter was in front of the “hoop” when Mark Auk fired a shot “from downtown” at the blue line. Suter deflected Auk’s “J” past Utah goaltender Peyton Jones, and thrilled the home crowd with his first goal as a professional and an early 1-0 lead (Auk and Jake Wahlin assisted, the latter earning his first professional point with the assist). However, the Grizzlies fired right back on the next shift, and it was Brayden Gelsinger striking with his first goal as a professional. At 7:22, Gelsinger sent a shot from the far side of the Rush zone and watched the puck find its way through traffic past Rush net-minder Dave Tendeck, evening the game at 1-1 (Diego Cuglietta and Charlie Gerard assisted).
After a scoreless second period between the sides, Utah overtook the Rush with more quick offense just shy of the midway point in the final frame. Diego Cuglietta provided the eventual game-winning goal at 8:18 of the third, firing a shot down the center lane of the Rush zone over Tendeck’s shoulder to vault the Grizzlies to a 2-1 lead (Gelsinger and Alex Lepkowski assisted). Exactly 1:08 later, Mike McNicholas found a pass in the slot area and nailed it just inside the far post on Tendeck to extend the Grizzlies lead to 3-1. After a review from the officials, the goal stood (Tanner Jago had the lone assist). Hampered by a late penalty in the final minutes of the game, the Rush couldn’t muster a comeback against Utah and fell 3-1 to split the weekend series.
Dave Tendeck, the Arizona Coyotes 158th overall draft pick in 2018, made his professional debut for the Rush tonight. He suffered the loss while stopping 31 of 34 shots on net (0-1-0-0).
The Rush now embark on their first road trip of the season against the heated rival Allen Americans for a weekend set. Puck drops for both games are slated for 6:05 p.m. on Friday, December 18th, and Saturday, December 19th, at the Allen Events Center. Join us for our first watch party of the season for Friday night’s game at Buffalo Wild Wings in Baken Park!
Season Tickets for the 2020-21 season are available! To place a deposit, call 716-7825, or click HERE.