RAPID CITY, SD — A pair of goals could not overcome a night of odd bounces that handed the Rapid City Rush a 5-2 loss to the visiting Utah Grizzlies on Friday night.
For the second game in a row the Grizzlies notched the night’s first tally. With less than two minutes gone by the visitors found themselves pressuing the Rush with shot attempts before Gabriel Verpaelst was able to poke the puck by Rush netminder Adam Morrison at 1:55 for the early 1-0 lead.
That score would hold up until the opening fourth of the middle frame. Ryan Walters was able to pocket his 28th goal of the season at 5:53 when he slammed the puck by Grizzlies’ netminder Kevin Boyle to square the game up. Utah would respond with a pair of goals from Michael Pelech keep the pressure on Rapid City. The first goal from Pelech came at 9:27 on a scramble in front of the Rush net allowing Utah to regain the lead. Pelech would double their advantage at 13:41 when he slammed the puck by Morrison’s short side giving the Grizzlies a 3-1 lead that would carry to the second intermission.
Rapid City went on the offensive during the final 20 minutes of regulation resulting in leading Utah in shots on goal 14 to 5 but the bounces just wouldn’t go their way. Zac Larraza put the proverbial “nail in the coffin” at 14:54 when he deflected at Tim Daly shot by Morrison giving Utah a 4-1 lead. Triston Grant gave the Rush hope late in the game when he slammed home a rebound shot to pull the Rush to within a 4-2 deficit. Taking a shot at a miracle the Rush pulled Morrison with just 2:06 left in the game. Mike Monfredo took a hard shot attempt on net but was denied by the iron. The shot itself was so hard it rebounded back across the ice and into the empty net for the eventual 5-2 final score. Marc-Andre Levesque was credited with the goal, his third of the season.
Boyle takes the win stopping 31 of 33 shots on the night while Adam Morrison suffers the loss stopping 18 of 22 shots faced.
The Rush and Grizzlies will close out their season series Saturday night with puck drop scheduled for 7:05pm MT.
Playoff Scenarios: Alaska was able to top Quad City 4-3 to Friday night to keep their single point advantage over the Grizzlies in the race for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. Each team has four games remaining on their schedule.