Hunter Garlent brought the Rapid City Rush within one in the final minutes of the third period, but the Utah Grizzlies, thanks to Nick Henry’s hat trick and three power play goals, staved off the late Rush rally to win the rubber match 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Rush finished the “three-in-three” with 3 of a possible 6 points up for grabs.
For the first time this weekend, the Grizzlies provided the game’s first goal, but the Rush countered late to square the game heading into the locker room. Nick Henry notched his first of three goals in the game when Matthew Boucher forced a turnover behind the Rush net and hit him crashing the net. Henry flung a shot by Rush net-minder Gordy Defiel and gave the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead with 7:02 left in the first (Boucher and Brandon Fehd assisted). However, with 1:54 left, Peter Quenneville sprung Tyler Coulter on a breakaway inside the blue line of the Grizzlies zone. Coulter tucked a backhand shot through the five-hole of Utah goalie Kevin Carr to square the game at 1-1 heading into the intermission (Quenneville had the lone assist).
For the last 40 minutes, Utah’s power play gained some opportunities and gained life, pushing them ahead of the Rush heading into the third frame. Trey Bradley got things started just seconds into the first Grizzlies man-advantage, deflecting a Ty Lewis shot in the high slot past Defiel to give Utah back the lead at 2-1 at 5:57 of the second (Lewis and Henry assisted). Over the midway point of regulation, Avery Peterson fired back with a sharp angle shot from the left wing wall that somehow squeaked by Carr, tying the game back at 2-2 with 8:31 left in the second period (Coulter and Butrus Ghafari assisted). Utah, back on the power play again, retook the lead when Nick Henry fired home his second of the game on a one-timer from Lewis, putting Utah back on top at 3-2 with 5:57 left in the second (Lewis and Ryan Lowney assisted).
At 10:44 of the final period, Butrus Ghafari and the Rush bench were called for boarding and unsportsmanlike conduct minors, giving Utah a full two minutes of a five-on-three power play. Exactly 42 seconds into the two-man advantage, Nick Henry rifled home a shot from the high slot past a screened Defiel, vaulting the Grizzlies to a 4-2 lead with 8:18 left in the game (Lowney and Lewis assisted). Hunter Garlent, undeterred, brought the Rush back within one when he banged home an Andrew Sturtz rebound in close range of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 5:50 left in the game (Sturtz and Stephen Baylis assisted). Despite pulling Defiel for the extra-attacker and winning a late offensive zone draw, the Rush couldn’t find late magic and fell in the finale by a 4-3 score.
Gordy Defiel stopped 30 of 34 shots on his net in suffering the defeat (2-3-0-0).
The Rush continue their seven-game road trip over two weeks, and now transition to four games in five days against the Wichita Thunder. The final stage of the road trip begins on Friday, February 26th, with puck drop slated for 6:05 p.m. from Wichita at INTRUST Bank Arena.