Tyler Coulter scored two of his team’s three power play goals, and Peter Quenneville collected assists on three of his team’s four tallies, but the Utah Grizzlies pulled away late from the Rapid City Rush and took home a 7-4 win on Saturday night. The Rush loss splits the weekend series with the Grizzlies. Additionally, with the Tulsa Oilers win over the Allen Americans, the Rush are now two points behind Tulsa for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division bracket with 12 games remaining and three games-in-hand on Tulsa.
The Grizzlies and Rush traded blows in the first period, but Utah got the last word to get a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. In the midst of an extra-attacker situation due to a delayed penalty, Travis Barron gathered the puck in the far corner of the Rush zone and fired a sharp angle shot past Rush net-minder Gordon Defiel, giving Utah a 1-0 lead 8:21 into the game (Yuri Terao and Sasha Larocque assisted). Moments later, the Rush counter punched on their first power play of the game, courtesy of Keeghan Howdeshell. With 4:22 left in the first, Stephane Legault threaded a cross-ice pass to Howdeshell, who finished with a shot past an outstretched Brad Barone in the Grizzlies net, squaring the game at 1-1 (Legault and Brennan Saulnier assisted). Utah, however, carried a 2-1 lead into the intermission after Terao threaded a pass behind the goal line to Mitch Maxwell, who trailed down “Main Street” and fired a shot past Defiel to give Utah a 2-1 lead with 21 seconds left in the first (Terao and Ty Lewis assisted).
Utah pulled ahead to a 4-1 lead in the second, but the Rush came back with a pair of goals to cut the deficit to one heading into the third. Exactly 100 seconds into the second period, Yuri Terao slammed home a net front rebound in a feverish exchange, pushing Utah ahead to a 3-1 lead (Connor Yau and Eric Williams assisted). Moments later at 5:12 of the second, Joe Wegwerth found another net front rebound on the first Grizzlies power play of the game and threaded it through Defiel’s five-hole to extend the lead to 4-1 (Taylor Richart and Ty Lewis assisted). Down, but not out, the Rush stormed back with a pair of goals, beginning with Matteo Gennaro’s fifth strike with the Rush. With 11:09 left in the second, Charles-David Beaudoin fired a shot from the blue line that was blockered away by Barone. The rebound came to an open Gennaro, who hammered it into a virtually open net to cut the deficit to 4-2 (Beaudoin and Peter Quenneville assisted). Less than three minutes later, the Rush struck for a second time on the power play, with Tyler Coulter sending home the 23rd goal of his rookie season, and 10th of the power play. Coulter backhanded a rebound on the glove side of Barone off of the twine to bring the Rush within one, trailing 4-3 with 8:21 left in the period (Quenneville and Gennaro assisted).
Back on the power play early in the third, Coulter hit pay dirt again for his third multi-goal outing in his last four games. Coulter this time continued hacking at a loose puck and eventually forced it by Barone to square the game at 4-4 (Matteo Gennaro and Peter Quenneville assisted). Unfortunately for the Rush, Ty Lewis buried two tallies in under two minutes to help the Grizzlies eventually pull away in the third. His first came when a Yuri Terao shot was initially stopped by Defiel, but went off of Lewis’ chest and rolled into the net to give the Grizzlies their eventual game-winning goal and a 5-4 lead with 7:18 gone by in the final period (Terao had the lone assist). His second came less than two minutes later on the power play at 9:05 when he rifled a shot off of the post and in past Defiel to expand the lead to 6-4 (Taylor Richart and Joe Wegwerth assisted). Christian Horn, who once played for the Rush in the 2016-17 season, put the final tally on the board, outlasting Defiel on a rebound in front of his crease, bringing the game to its final score of 7-4 with 6:03 left in the game (Richart and Wegwerth assisted).
Gordon Defiel stopped 27 of 34 shots in suffering the loss (5-3-2-1 with the Rush, 5-5-2-1 overall).