With snow falling, and the weather finally chilly in Utah, the Grizzlies found themselves buried by and avalanche of goals in Rapid City.
The roster was more or less the same, with the exception of Rob Mann in on defense in place of Travis Howe, while Chris Leibinger moved to forward
Utah got the first four shots of the night, holding possession almost without break through the first four minutes. Though it was not quite so one-sided thereafter, the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot Rapid City.
So of course, once again, the Rush struck first, Dante Salituro from Peter Sivak and Daniel Leavens. The game started feeling awfully familiar, as Riley Weselowski took a penalty at 7:30, and Utah went to the game’s first power play—just as they had on Friday.
The momentum of the game decidedly evened out after the middle of the first, Leibinger took a hooking call, but Utah killed it off.
Things continued to go badly, as Kenton Miller scored on the breakaway, and Angus Redmond came in to relieve Sean Maguire.
At the end of the first, shots were 16-8 for Utah, who trailed 3-0.
Utah came out working hard, and still shooting everything, but the bounces continued to go against them. They killed off a Brendan Harms slashing penalty, but Tyler Deresky and Jack Walker scored in less than two minutes, at 6:56 and 8:38.
Things didn’t go any better after that either, as Erik Higby took a hooking call. Shortly afterwards Josh Elmes and Kyle Thomas dropped the gloves at 13:59. The minor to Higby was killed off, but Alex Komm made it 6-0.
With 58 seconds left in the period, Ryan FWalters and Anthony Collins got sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct, and with just .6 seconds left in the period, Jon Puskar made it 6-1 from Taylor Richart and Thomas.
Maguire took the net back over to start the third, but 33 seconds in, Salituro got the seventh goal of the game.
The Grizzlies answered right back though, James Melindy making it 7-2 on a sweet, sweet backhander at 1:56. Utah continued to play hard, getting chances all over the place, Melindy and Mann especially, looking strong
Higby and Leavens took matching slashing calls at 6:19, then Weselowski took a cross-checking call, but Salituro put the finishing touch on his hat trick at 8:30 short-handed.
Utah kept fighting, getting opportunities five-on-three, five-on-four, then four-on-four and four-on-three as well, but though the Grizzlies climbed over 50 shots in that time, Adam Vay still shut the door.
Austin Ortega made it 8-3, putting up his eighth point in eight games, and except for Brad Navin, of all people, losing his cool and taking a roughing call in the final minute, that was the game.
Losing 8-3, but out-shooting Rapid City 56-28—certainly a frustrating outcome. Looking at the score, you’d think that the Rush had run the Grizzlies around all over the ice. This was very much not the case. While it certainly wasn’t their best game, Utah played decently. On the other hand Rapid City scored on just about every chance they got, once again, capitalizing on every single mistake.
The most encouraging takeaway, from an otherwise thoroughly demoralizing evening, is that the Grizzlies never once stopped playing, which they well could have done down as many goals as they were.
Utah has one last chance to redeem the road trip this afternoon at 3 PM before returning home.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming and staff