Coming off a 6-5 shoot out loss with Joe Cannata in net, and a 5-4 SO win with Kevin Carr in net, the Grizzlies looked to close out the Rapid City road trip with a winning record. With Kevin Davis and Josh Anderson both called up to the Eagles Utah played short-handed with just five defensemen, but J.T. Henke drew in, so the Grizzlies also dressed ten forwards for the first time in quite a while.
The game got off to a pretty good start, Utah picking up six shots to the Rush’s three in the first ten minutes or so. At 9:59, Michael Turner took a tripping call, and Utah headed off to the power play. Josh Dickinson got the only official shot on the advantage, and Cannata made a big save on Turner who came flying down the ice fresh out of the box.
Despite the shot advantage, it was the Rush who struck first, Riley Weslowski making it rain stuffed animals, as it was teddy bear toss night, as well as Guns ‘n Hoses night in Rapid City.
Cannata looked a little shaky at times through the first, but the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Rush, even after Turner Ottenbreit headed to the box at 14:18, then again at 17:27. Twenty seconds later, Teigan Zahn laid a big hit, Weslowski took exception, and the two dropped the gloves. With Zahn sent to the locker room and Ottenbreit in the box, the Grizzlies played with three defensemen for all but the last thirty seconds or so of the frame.
After the first, Rapid City led 1-0, out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-10.
Turner took a hooking call on Nolan De Jong at 1:05, sending Utah to an early, and ultimately futile power play. After Zahn, Weselowski, and Turner all left the box, De Jong took a slashing call, and Saquille Merasty scored on the ensuing power play.
Rapid City iced the puck twice in a row at about the seven minute mark, and Utah pressured, cycling well though picking up no shots.
Just around the half-way point, first Jake Marchment and then Matt Berry got nice looks, but Adam Carlson remained strong. The foot-speed of Cole Ully drew a slashing call at 11:34. It was, probably, their best up until that point, but once again they came up empty.
Utah drew a power play, though probably one they would have preferred to go without, as Ottenbreit went down very hard behind the Utah net and had to be helped off the ice at 15:19.
The Grizzlies looked pretty good following the power play, cycling the puck and getting a couple of looks, eventually leading to a hooking call against Weselowski. Unfortunately, Ully took a high-sticking call with forty seconds to go.
After a period that didn’t go particularly well, Utah continued to trail 2-0, shots 20-18 for the Rush.
Matt Berry came flying out of the gate off the opening face-off, and Ottenbreit returned to the ice a few shifts in. Ottenbreit took another penalty, tripping this time, at 4:25. Utah killed it off.
By the time there was only seven minutes left, Utah had tied up the shots 25-25, but still remained unable to put one past Carlson.
Ully drew another power play with just about five to go. They rang iron on the advantage but came up empty once again. The Grizzlies pulled Cannata for the extra attacker right as the power play came to an end, and the Rush scored into the empty net.
Garrett Klotz tried to goad Ottenbreit into a fight for reasons unknown with just under two minutes left, and shortly thereafter, chaos descended. Weirdly, since they were up 3-0, the Rush got a little nasty at the end of what had been largely a reasonable game. A scrum ensued with less than 20 seconds left, that resulted in Quintin Lisoway getting a roughing call, while Austin Carroll was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.
At the final buzzer, the Rush had done an unfortunately perfect job of shutting down the most potent offense in the league for the 3-0 victory, handing the Grizzlies their first regulation loss against a Mountain Division opponent all year.
While it obviously wasn’t Utah’s best night, it certainly wasn’t their worst either. They team returns home with three of six possible points and a 13-3-3-1 record before they head back on the road to play Idaho next weekend.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff