Boy oh boy, hockey is back. Game one was on Friday evening for the season opener between the Grizzlies and Rush. It was certainly a high scoring affair, as the Rush beat the Grizzlies 6-4 in front of 3,570 fans at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
It was an early start for the Grizzlies scoring squad, as Cedric Pare broke open the scoring just 3:23 into the game. It was reviewed for possible goaltender interference, however, it remained a good goal. The first of his career was assisted by Joe Wegwerth and Diego Cuglietta. Just 1:52 later, the Grizzlies made it 2-0 with a goal from Joe Wegwerth on a redirected shot from Miles Gendron.
After a quick start to the game, it started to settle down, with only a single penalty had following a 2-0 start and that was forward Cedric Pare. The shots were 14-12 in favour of Rapid City.
It was an enjoyable second period, as the Rush got things going 2:27 into the frame, as Mason Baptista scored one of two goals on the night, as the Utah Grizzlies were facing pressure in the defensive zone. At the whistle, with 16:54 to go, it was madness in Rapid City, as unpleasant words between the two were exchanged. Despite all the altercations, each team was charged two minutes for roughing. One second after the four-on-three ended, the Grizzlies scored on a power play where Miles Gendron scored his first of the season, the goal assisted by Cedric Pare.
An onslaught of penalties later started when defensemen Mark Auk got called for a tripping minor, and at the ensuing face-off, the Grizzlies won it. However, Rapid City’s Cedric Montiminy took the puck and skated in all alone and put it right past Grizzlies goalie Peyton Jones. Just over two minutes later, the Rush caught the Grizzlies sleeping, as Rapid City went on the two-on-one attack, with Avery Peterson finishing the job by snapping a wrister from the left-side circle. Mark Auk was credited with the assist.
Later in the second period, rookie winger Charlie Gerard banked the puck right in past Rush netminder Adam Carlson. In the third, at 3:13, Joe Wegwerth got called for goalie interference, as he argued that he was shoved into Carlson and Rapid City scored what was one of three unanswered goals in the game’s final frame. Final shots were 29-34 in favour of the Rapid City Rush. The three stars of the game were awarded to Adam Carlson, Avery Peterson and Cedric Montiminy.
Game two was an absolute blast, as the Utah Grizzlies defeated the Rapid City Rush on “Thrillers” Night in Rapid City by a final score of 3-1. In front of 3,216 fans, David Tendeck made his professional debut, stopping 31 shots of the 34 he faced.
It started out a bit slow in the first period, as two rookie netminders got the nod respectively, with Peyton Jones making his second straight start and the first pro start for Rapid City’s David Tendeck. As the game got underway, Jack Suter redirected a centering attempt from Mark Auk for his first career goal to make it 1-0 Rush. Auk and Whalin were credited with the assists.
Just 24 seconds later, the Utah Grizzlies were able to tie it up with a breakout rush coming up from the neutral zone, which saw Brayden Gelsinger score his first career goal. The goal was potted in just 7:22 into the game’s first period.
Throughout the opening period, it was mostly controlled by the Grizzlies until Joey Sides, with 2:49 left, rung the puck off the crossbar, keeping the game tied at one. As the period came to a close, shots were 13-7 in favour of the Grizzlies.
It was a slow second period for both sides, with no goals and no penalties, but many chances despite that. Miles Gendron was banged up after a heavy hit against the boards, however, he was able to skate off on his own and eventually returned to the ice later on. With 10:15 on the clock in the second, Teigan Zahn received a centering pass with a point blank shot, only to be robbed of a 2-1 lead by David Tendeck.
On the other side three minutes later, Rapid City was attempting to score, however, rookie goaltender Peyton Jones made a leaping glove save on the Rapid City Rush. The shots on goal for the second were 10-9 in favour of Utah.
Going into the third all squared at one, Rapid City and Utah saw an entertaining frame. It started early, as Tendeck was caught out of his net and made an outstanding stick save just two minutes into the period. The first power play for the Rush then took place, but lasted all of three seconds after Tyler Coulter was called for an interference minor.
The action picked up with eleven minutes left when Diego Cuglietta received a pass from Brayden Gelsinger and buried a one-timer to give Utah the lead. Just over a minute later, Tanner Jago fed the puck to the slot, however, it was saved by David Tendeck. On the ensuing rebound, Michael McNicholas unleashed a shot, however, it hit the post on its way to the mesh.
It was reviewed, as there was no signal or goal light, while in the meantime, the Utah Grizzlies were celebrating. That saw a halt in play until the call was made that it was a good goal. This gave the Utah Grizzlies a 3-1 lead with 10:30 left to play.
As the game clock counted down, Tendeck made a save on McNicholas, who was in on a breakaway, and kept it a two-goal game with four minutes remaining. A very interesting ending, according to ECHL.com, as on Saturday night, the league had a official final of 3-2, however changed it on Sunday morning. This was after Griffin Luce was said to have scored, and a thus a tricky decision to make as the goal siren sounded.
With this point removed, the score remained 3-1, a final result in favour of the Grizzlies. The final shots on goal for this game were 34-23 with Utah topping the Rush. The three stars of the game were Peyton Jones and Jack Suter, while Diego Cuglietta took home honours for No. 1.
The Grizzlies are set to make the trip home to face the Tulsa Oilers on both Friday and Saturday. Puck drop both nights at the Maverik Center is scheduled to fall at 9:10pmMT.