Utah Grizzlies: Triumphant Return

After a crazy come-from-behind OT loss last night, the Grizzlies got some reinforcements in the form of Ryan Faragher back from San Diego. There was also a little bit of rejigging to the lineup, as Travis Howe took Kenton Helgesen’s spot at forward, and Helgesen took over Evan Stoflet’s spot on defense.

The Grizzlies gave up a few chances right off the opening faceoff, and proceeded to give up eight shots in the first eight minutes.

However, the they began pushing back after that, and Brad Navin stole the puck from the Rush, and Cam Reid scored to put the Grizzlies up 1-0 with 8:10 left to play in the first.

Rapid City pressured the other way, but the Grizzlies had got their feet under them better by that point, and managed to hold them off.

Michael Pelech took a hooking call at 15:17, and Ryan Misiak scored on the power play just seven seconds later to tie up the game.

With 2:16 left in the period, the Grizzlies drew a power play of their own, but their power play struggles continued. In a desperate attempt to negate a two-on-none Richart took a penalty to send the teams to a brief 4-on-4. The 4-on-4 went much better for the Grizzlies than the power play had, and they got a few more good shots off before the period ended. After 20, the score was still tied 1-1, and the shots were a far more even 12-11 for the Rush.

The Grizzlies’ penalty kill got off to a strong start, getting the first couple of chances of the period, including one of those exciting two-on-one rushes by Erik Bradford and Ralph Cuddemi. Utah established possession returning to full strength, and Mathieu Aubin put the Grizziles up 2-1 on a beautiful shot for his 13th of the year.

Pietroniro and Banwell had a pair of chances from the points with just under ten minutes left to play in the second, and the Rush had a few chances of their own going the other way, but both goalies made the necessary saves. The end of 40 saw Utah up 2-1, though Rapid City held the edge in shots 20-16.

The third period began really well for the Grizzlies, as Cuddemi scored 35 seconds into the period. Unfortunately, the momentum stuttered as Nemcik was sent to the box just seconds later.

Utah looked much better as the third period progressed, getting chances, and drawing a delayed penalty. Cuddemi scored his second of the period on the ensuing power play to give the Grizzlies their biggest lead of the weekend. The goal tied him up with Tyson Spink for first in the rookie goal-scoring race, and Reid’s assist gave him his third point of the night.

At 9:44, Jon Puskar scored his 11th goal of the year, Navin picked up his second assist of the night, and the Grizzlies went up 5-1.

Faragher continued to be magnificent in nets, making a number of great saves, including on a Bradford penalty. Through the second half of the period, the Grizzlies kept skating and getting chances.

Rapid City pressed in the dying minutes of the period, but the Grizzlies closed ranks, and Faragher stood tall.

The Grizzlies are now 5-1-1 against Rapid City this year, and Cuddemi has multiple goals in four out of the last five games.

Utah returns to the Mav for a six game homestand to close out January. They will host Idaho on Monday where the puck drops at 1:30 PM.

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