WEST VALLEY CITY, UT — Sunday afternoon, the Rapid City Rush and Utah Grizzlies continued their suspended game from Friday night. While the Grizzlies started the 2nd period with a 3-1 advantage it was the Rush who celebrated a 7-5 decision Sunday afternoon and a weekend sweep.
The game started Friday night with the Utah Grizzlies jumping out to an early 2-0 advantage. Jon Puskar was the first to light the lamp just 2:55 into the frame. Puskar drove the puck down in a 2-on-1 and found an opening to bank the puck off Rush netminder Adam Vay‘s shoulder. Ryan Olsen doubled the home team’s lead at 6:36 when he was able to pocket the loose puck in Vay’s crease. Rapid City cut into Utah’s lead, however, at 10:12 when Peter Sivak secured the loose puck and fired it over Utah netminder Kevin Carr‘s shoulder. It was Sivak’s fifth goal of the season. Utah did regain their two-goal advantage before the end of the period. Puskar picked up his second goal of the frame at 14:18 when he deflected a wrister from Charley Graaskamp that went over Vay’s shoulder to put Utah up 3-1.
That lead would carry into the first intermission and it looks like Utah would carry the momentum into the middle frame. But the hockey gods were smiling on Rapid City as a groove formed on the ice as a result of the Zamboni pass that came roughly three feet off the boards. This prompted the game to be suspended to Sunday afternoon with the Grizzlies holding a 3-1 edge and 40 minutes of hockey left to play.
Something must have sparked the Rush as they fought for a tough 2-1 win last night and that momentum seemed to carry into the final two periods of action today.
Three second period goals, two coming less than 90 seconds apart, highlighted a furious rally from the boys from the Black Hills. Tyler Deresky got his first tally in a Rush jersey, securing the puck in the Rush offensive zone and poked it by Carr at 7:05 to cut the deficit to a single goal. Jack Walker ties the contest up at 15:28 taking the feed from Daniel Leavens and goes backdoor for his sixth goal of the season. Chase Lang then puts the Rush on top at 16:49 when he tallied his first goal in a Rush jersey. Rapid City would take the 4-3 edge into the final twenty minutes of regulation.
The Rush weren’t content to sit back and play defensive hockey, though. Special teams lead to every decisive goal in the final frame as each team found took advantage of their extra attackers. Sivak was able to pocket a 5-on-3 powerplay goal at 4:49 to double the Rush lead. Leavens poured salt in the wound just 15 seconds later with the 5-on-4 powerplay goal to give Rapid City a commanding 6-3 lead with 14:46 remaining in regulation. That goal prompted the Grizzlies to bring in Angus Redmond to stand guard between the pipes, and he stood tall the remainder of regulation to give Utah a chance to rally. While on a 5-on-3 advantage the Grizzlies also pulled Redmond to give them a 6-on-3 advantage and were able to cash in at 16:10 with a powerplay goal from Michael Pelech to make it a 6-4 contest. Austin Ortega added a powerplay goal of his own at 18:37 to give Utah life during the final minute of regulation. Sivak would put the nail in the coffin, however, with an empty net goal at 19:50 and secure the 7-5 win and weekend sweep.
The two-day contest was filled with amazing offensive and defensive highlights that included the Grizzlies outshooting the Rush 43-to-30 and both teams going 2-for-5 on the man advantage.
Adam Vay is credited with the win stopping 38-of-43 shots while Kevin Carr takes the loss stopping 19-of-25. Angus Redmond stopped all four shots faced in relief work.
Utah Grizzlies: Travel to Allen for a mid-week contest before taking on the Wichita Thunder for a two-game set on Friday and Saturday.
Rapid City Rush: Travel to Colorado for a three-game series against the Eagles on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.