Day 155 of the regular season and we’re still playing the Rapid City Rush. However, despite the billionth meeting of these two teams, there were some changes in the roster. Joey Ratelle (signed at the beginning of the year) finally made his Utah debut, Jake Marchment was once again out with an injury, and Joey Raats was a healthy scratch. Joe Cannata got the start for Utah, and on the other end of the ice, their arch-nemesis Adam Carlson.
- Longest first shift in the history of ever.
- Will Smith looking to stay hot on his first shift of the game.
- Tyler Poulsen puts the puck through Gage Ausmus and Joe Cannata to put the Rush up 1-0.
- Not even five minutes in, and already there’s some cantankerousness.
- Cole Ully doing Cole Ully things.
- Oh no…that’s exactly how Ratelle got hurt the first time this year…He’s certainly endeared himself to the fans though!
- Point blank chance for Eric Freschi
- Both teams playing with a fair bit of nastiness so far, certainly more than we saw in their past games against each other.
- Freschi’s made some pretty nifty moves tonight, and the night is young.
- Speaking of nifty, that was a great piece of stick work from Ausmus to take possession of the puck.
- That was some really nice passing from Freschi and Jack Walker there.
- That being said, please go spend some extended time in the offensive zone…
- Pretty sure everyone on both sides moved before that puck got dropped, haha!
- Well. That’s not good. 2-0 with five to go.
- Turner Ottenbreit lays a huge hit and gets two for elbowing, leading to the first power play of the night.
- You know that thing I said about cantankerousness? We’re definitely past “some”.
- I’m not sure I have ever seen a full line brawl live before. The penalty box is gonna get PREEEETTTY full. Teigan Zahn and Gabriel Verpaelst get five each for fighting, Taylor Crunk gets two for slashing, two for instigating, and five for fighting, and Liam Bilton gets five for fighting.
- Well. That was…eventful.
- 2-0 RC, shots 19-7 in their favor.
- Utah opens with two full minutes of power play time, and a minute of five-on-three.
- That opening power play goes the way of many opening of period power plays. That is to say, nowhere.
- If nothing else, they got Carlson moving shortly afterwards I guess.
- Zahn just led a really nice up-ice rush that culminated in a mad scramble around Carlson.
- Mitch Maxwell with a speedy wrap-around attempt. Shots are now a far better 19-14.
- More importantly, possession is much improved, and they’re skating hard.
- Ottenbreit and Caleb Herbert get a really nice chance short handed.
- MAXWELL WITH THE SHORTY.
- Utah’s taken over the shot clock, 20-19 with 10:36 to go.
- If RC had actually managed to pull off that stick toss, it would have been impressive. Illegal, but impressive.
- VERBEAUTY. TIE GAME.
- Walker does NOT look like a guy who’s been out for a month and a half with a leg injury.
- Freschi and Walker get a glorious short-handed chance.
- Another whistle, another scuffle. Michael Economos and and Garrett Klotz to the box.
- ECONOMOS WITH THE SNIPE.
- 3-2 UTAH as Economos positively flew out of the box! Great feed from Zahn too.
- Carlson starting to look human over there.
- Everyone falls over each other from both teams. Ice is slippery, don’tcha know!
- Shots are 20-7 for Utah in the period.
- The Grizzlies OWNED the second.
- Every time someone blocks a Verpaelst shot, I wince a little.
- The way Ully just makes space for himself is so effortless.
- Good start to the period for the boys.
- I DON’T BELIEVE IT. IT WENT IN. O CAPTAIN OUR CAPTAIN.
- Free chili for all.
- Ok, please get back to playing mostly in the offensive zone.
- Please stop icing the puck…
- And again…
- At this rate, we’re gonna have to crack out the Herb Brooks “again” gif. (Only this is not the sort of thing he’d have wanted over and over and over and over…)
- You know that thing I said about Verpaelst’s shots at the beginning of the period? That.
- I haven’t really mentioned him so far this game, but Cannata’s been good.
- Freschi’s been very good this game.
- BIG save from Cannata!
- Rush net is empty with 2:30 to go.
- ECONOMOS INTO THE EMPTY NET!!!
- GRIZZLIES WIN 5-2!!! And they out-shot RC 34-33 in the end, Cannata going 31/33.
Economos’ two goals and assist earned him first star of the game, while Maxwell (1G, 1A) and Zahn (1G, 1A) took second and third stars. Walters’ assist was his 300th professional point.
“We earned this one.” Tim Branham said after the game. “I didn’t think we were that bad in the first to be honest. We passed up on a lot of scoring opportunities to only get five shots. I thought we had more chances than that. They worked hard, they worked for their bounces that period. Then between the first and second we talked about how enough was enough, we need to out play them and out work them like we did that last third period. The boys came out and took control. Five-on-three, our five-on-three hasn’t been good all year to be honest, I think we’ve maybe scored one, but we got one on the power play, and our penalty kill was huge, and we got one short-handed. So specialty teams was huge, specialty teams has been huge this whole series, and tonight it worked in our favor.”
As has been the case in the last few games, the Grizzlies’ secondary scoring has come through. “It’s huge,” said Branham. “Really, I just rolled the lines there for a while with our ten forwards so I don’t really what was our first, second, and third line, but to get that secondary scoring you’re talking about, it’s huge. Come playoff time, teams are going to be keying in on our top guys, and our second and third line are the ones that gotta to carry the load. Third lines win championships.”
“It’s huge” Economos said of Maxwell’s goal. “When you get a short-handed goal and things aren’t going your way it was something that really sparked us. We just talked about working hard and that’s what we did tonight. It was nothing fancy really about that game out of us tonight, it was just working hard, crashing the net, getting in front of Carlson’s eyes cause he’s been red hot against us, so it was really big for us.”
He was, predictably modest about his own game winner.
“It was just right place at right time. Zahner just happened to look up at the perfect time when I was getting out of the box. The boys were joking with me that I wasn’t trying to go five-hole, and honestly I wasn’t,” he said with a laugh, “But you know sometimes when you miss it works out. Finally a bounce went our way, and it was great to see that go in.”
Military night is always popular in Utah, and Saturday was no exception with 9,237 in attendance, and they made a difference. “It was amazing. Any time there’s a hit, any time there’s a fight, any time there’s a goal, it was just electric in there. Sometimes you don’t hear the crowd because you’re so into the game, but tonight they were a factor, and they definitely gave us some life out there.”
The difference between the Grizzlies’ first period and second and third couldn’t have been more stark. “I think we just said that we got that out of the way. It’s been chippy against them every time we’ve played them, so we kind of got that out of the way and were just able to focus on our game. They might have still been in that mentality of just trying to get in fights and pushing and shoving, and we just wanted to get in front of the goalie’s eyes, put it on net every single time we could, it was great for us.”
The Grizzlies face the Rush for the fourteenth and (thankfully) final time on Monday.
- First Period: None
- Second Period: Maxwell (Ottenbreit) (SH), Verpaelst (Herbert, Henke) (PP), Economos (Richart, Zahn)
- Third Period: Zahn (Economos, Smith), Economos (Maxwell, Walters) (EN)
UTA: 1/5 (29 PIM)
RC: 0/5 (39 PIM)
Photo courtesy of Josh Pinnau.
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