Alex Sakellaropoulos made 42 saves on 44 shots in regulation plus overtime and stopped both shooters in the shootout round to lead the Rapid City Rush to a 3-2 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Saturday night in a shootout. The win gives the Rush their first win of 2020, and Sakellaropoulos his first with the Rush.
For the first time in the New Year, the Rush provided the game’s first goal and left the opening 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead. With 5:22 gone by in the action, Brennan Saulnier took a clean turnover up the far wall of the zone, and fired a shot over the shoulder of Utah goalie Martin Ouellette to give the Rush an early 1-0 lead (the goal was unassisted).
Tyler Coulter doubled the lead in the midst of special teams with his first shorthanded goal of the season before the Grizzlies counterpunched prior to the end of the break. At 5:50 of the second period, Griffen Molino, while on Utah’s second power play of the game, turned the puck over to Coulter right in the middle of the zone. Coulter’s initial shot went off the post, but he snuck his rebound behind Ouellette to double the Rush lead to 2-0 (the goal was unassisted). On their next power play, however, the Grizzlies fired back to get on the board before triple-zero in the second. With 10:07 left in the second, Molino slid a near wall shot on the ice that deflected off of Joe Wegwerth and behind Rush net-minder Alex Sakellaropoulos to cut the deficit to 2-1 (Molino and Ty Lewis assisted).
The Grizzlies kept their red-hot power play alive in the final period and evened the score with 11:45 left in the game. Ty Lewis deadlocked the game on a rebound in front of the net over Sakellaropoulos to square the game at 2-2 (Tim McGauley and Joe Wegwerth assisted). The Rush had an opportunity with 91 seconds of a two-man advantage late in the period, but the Grizzlies penalty-kill stopped them in their tracks, forcing overtime.
In the OT period, Utah had a four-on-three power play with under 3:30 to go, but the Rush counterpunched and held the onslaught off to force the shootout. Tyler Coulter five-holed Ouellette in the first round, followed by a Sakellaropoulos denial of Tim McGauley in the bottom half. Peter Quenneville then fired a shot by Ouellette in the top of the second round, putting the game on the stick of Utah’s next shooter. Yuri Terao was stopped by Sakellaropoulos, and the Rush held on to win 3-2 in the shootout.
Alex Sakellaropoulos earned his first win with the Rush, stopping 42 of 44 shots in regulation plus overtime, in addition to both shooters in the shootout round (1-3-0-0 with the Rush, 3-7-0-0 total).
The Rush conclude their “three-in-three” series against the Utah Grizzlies tomorrow, January 5th. Puck drop is slated for 1:10 p.m. MDT at the Maverik Center.
Following this weekend, the Rush will return to home ice to face the Cincinnati Cyclones for the first time ever in Rapid City on Wednesday, January 8th, Friday, January 10th, and Saturday, January 11th. Puck drop for all three contests is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT. On January 11th, the Rush will host “Nickelodeon Night”, presented by Black Hills Energy, featuring specialty Paw Patrol themed jerseys. Additionally, the team will also celebrate the birthday of our lovable mascot, Nugget, and the first 1,000 fans will have the chance to take home a commemorative Nugget bobble head giveaway.