RAPID CITY, SD — In a back-and-forth contest, the Utah Grizzlies pulled away in the third period to claim a 6-3 win over the Rapid City Rush on Sunday and avoid the weekend sweep.
After facing 105 shots in the last two games, the Rush put Christian Frey between the pipes for the final game of the 4-game series against the Grizzlies.
Rapid City got the game’s first tally, coming just 3:53 into the contest. Daniel Leavens picked up his sixth goal of the season off a shot from Rush captain Riley Weselowski and powered the rebound by Utah netminder Sean Maguire. At the 6:13 mark, Brendan Harms fired a one-timer by Frey to knot the game at 1-1. Rapid City’s special teams put them back on top at 8:46 when Alex Kromm deflected a shot into the back of the net for a powerplay goal and a 2-1 edge. Utah answered back with 6:45 remaining in the opening period when former Rush forward Ryan Walters took the feed and deflected it by Frey to tie the game up at 2-2. The Rush held an 11-to-8 advantage in shots-on-goal and scored on the man advantage after 20 minutes of play.
The Grizzlies would take their first lead of the series at the halfway point. Cliff Watson came off the blue line and blasted the puck by Frey for the 3-2 lead at the 9:13 mark. Rapid City answered with 3:36 remaining in the frame as Leavens fired a laser top-shelf by Maguire to set the stage for an entertaining final period, all squared-up at 3-all. The Rush continued to hold the edge in shots-on-goal with a 9-to-7 edge in the middle frame and 20-to-15 advantage through 40 minutes of play.
Utah stepped up the tempo in the final period, rifling off three straight goals en route to the 6-3 final over Rapid City. Their first came at 5:46 when Austin Ortega scored the only powerplay goal for Utah, firing a one-timer by Frey to give Utah the 4-3 advantage. Less than two minutes later Ortega doubled his goal count when he deflected the puck by Frey at 7:34 to give Utah a 5-3 advantage. Jon Puskar put the nail in the coffin at 18:48 when he scored on the empty net and made sure Utah avoided a sweep in their four-game series with Rapid City.
Sean Maguire is credited with the win, stopping 22-of-25 shots on the night while Christian Frey suffers the loss stopping 22-of-27 shots faced. Utah outshot the Rush in the final frame 13-to-5 and eventually took the edge 28-to-25 over 60 minutes of play. Both teams scored on the man-advantage with Utah going 1-for-2 and Rapid City scoring on one of their three opportunities.
Utah Grizzlies: Hosts the Tulsa Oilers for a three-game series starting Wednesday, January 24th. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm CT.
Rapid City Rush: Hits the road for their “Stock Show Road Trip” staring with the Allen Americans on Wednesday, January 24th. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:05 pm MT.