Tyler Coulter scored twice on the power play in the second period, Brennan Saulnier registered a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”, and Tyler Parks stopped all but two of 51 shots to lead the Rapid City Rush to a 5-2 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon. The win gives the Rush 4 of 6 points on the weekend against Utah.
Scoring started early and often for the Rush, who struck twice 14 seconds apart to jump to a 2-0 lead. Brennan Saulnier led the charge at 5:37 of the first period, rifling a rebound off of a sprawled out Martin Ouellette, giving the Rush an early 1-0 lead (Josh Elmes and Peter Quenneville assisted). In the blink of an eye, Matteo Gennaro carried the puck into the Utah zone on a deflection, cut towards the slot, and rifled a shot past Ouellette to double the Rush lead to 2-0 at 5:51 of the period (Charles-David Beaudoin and Brennan Saulnier assisted).
For the first time since December 14th, the Rush stuck on the power play, and it was Tyler Coulter twice in the frame that chipped in on the man-advantage. His first goal came 75 seconds into the second period when he came down the near wall, and sniped a shot over Ouellette’s blocker side to triple the Rush lead to 3-0 (Chris Leibinger and Matteo Gennaro assisted). However, 44 seconds later, Tim McGauley counter punched for the Grizzlies and got them on the board. With 1:59 gone by in the second period, a Rush defender fell down and McGauley used it to go into the Rush zone uncontested. McGauley slipped the puck by Rush net-minder Tyler Parks, cutting the Rush lead to 3-1 (Yuri Terao and Joe Wegwerth assisted). Moments, later, back on the second Rush power play of the game, Coulter struck again. From the exact same spot on the near side of the Grizzlies zone, Coulter fired a puck off of the far post and in, re-establishing the three-goal lead at 4-1 with 6:22 played in the second (Charles-David Beaudoin and Peter Quenneville assisted). Following the goal, Ouellette was substituted by Mason McDonald in net for Utah after 26:22 of work. After the goalie change, Griffen Molino hit pay-dirt for the Grizzlies in the middle of four-on-four hockey. He slipped a rebound off of a Connor Yau shot past Parks to make it a 4-2 Rush advantage with 10:18 reamining in the second (Yau and Travis Barron assisted).
In the third, Stephane Legault sealed the win with an empty-net tally with 10.5 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Rush the series win with 2 wins and 4 of 6 points in a 5-2 victory.
For a second time this season, Tyler Parks registered 49 saves on 51 shots in a winning effort (11-5-3-0).
The Rush 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.