In the first game with practice after the roster got a massive shakeup, the Grizzlies returned to Rapid City with Brad Barone in net, backed up by newly returned Kevin Carr. Teigan Zahn also returned to the lineup after serving his two game suspension, and Hunter Skinner made his pro debut.
The Grizzlies drew an early penalty, courtesy of boarding by Garrett Klotz, just forty-four seconds in, but were unable to capitalize and Jack Jenkins went to the box a few minutes later also for boarding. Neither team scored on the advantage, though the Grizzlies had a short-handed jaunt into the offensive zone that looked promising.
Though Utah built up an 8-4 advantage in shots through the first ten minutes, the Rush began to apply some pressure. Matthew Boucher took a penalty at 12:51, but Utah’s previously excellent penalty kill returned somewhat, escaping a close call, and managing to extend their zone time.
The Grizzlies built up a little momentum as the end of the period approached, and with 2:13 to go, they drew a power play. Trey Bradley made it count, scoring through traffic 13 seconds in.
Utah held onto the lead through the final two minutes, and headed into intermission up 1-0, shots 13-7 in their favor.
The period got off to a good start for the Grizz, Riley Woods scoring his first for Utah at 1:39 from Boucher and Skinner. The assist was Skinner’s first pro point, and Utah continued to hold the edge both in shots and zone time.
They made the most of it, Bradly getting his second of the game from Skinner and Woods at 5:55. Barone held down the fort after that, making two big saves just around the elven-minute-mark, with help from Skinner who came flying back to help corral the rebound.
Barone saw a lot of shots after that, as the Rush made a determined effort to even up the score. The teams traded chances through the back-half of the frame, and the Rush were rewarded at 17:51 on a really nice toe-drag goal from Tyler Coulter. Utah took a delay of game penalty in the final minutes, and Utah headed into the second intermission up 3-1, outshooting the Rush 25-19.
The Grizzlies started the third with the tail end of the penalty from the second, and killed that off. The game again went back and forth for both teams, Utah continuing to maintain the shot lead by a narrow margin.
The Grizzlies got dinged for too many men half way through the frame, and the Rush made it 3-2 on the advantage, and eventually evening out the shots 29-29.
Utah held on for dear life through the final two minutes with an empty net on the other end and, at the end of the day, squeaked away with the 3-2 win in regulation.
The former Newfoundland Growlers teammates Bradley (2G) and Woods (1G, 2A) were named first and second star, and Skinner picked up his first two pro points. Additionally, Boucher now has points in each of the last four games. Overall, it was a better game for the Grizzlies, though against a weaker team than Tulsa. They looked much more comfortable as a team, and had better luck completing passes — both because they weren’t challenged as constantly and because they seemed to be better aware of where their teammates would be. Barone was solid in net, especially considering this was his first start all year.
These same two teams will be back at it again tomorrow.
- First Period: Bradley (Woods, Cannone) (PP)
- Second Period: Woods (Boucher, Skinner), Bradley (Skinner, Woods)
- Third Period: None
Photo courtesy of Rob Church.