LEAVEN'S PAIR NOT ENOUGH FOR SWEEP
RAPID CITY, SD - Daniel Leavens notched a pair of goals and an assist, and Riley Weselwoski fed him on both of his tallies, but the Rapid City Rush couldn't overtake the Utah Grizzlies in the third, who avoided a four-game sweep of the week's slate with a 6-3 win on Sunday afternoon.
For a fourth consecutive game, all against Utah, the Rush struck for the game's opening goal. With 3:53 gone by, Riley Weselowski fired a shot from the Utah blue line that was originally stopped by Utah goaltender Sean Maguire, but the rebound came right to Daniel Leavens, who slammed the rebound by Maguire to give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Weselowski and Dante Salituro assisted). Almost three minutes later, Utah squared things up on a shorthanded tally on the first Rush power play of the game. Brendan Harms finished a Grizzlies rush up the ice with a one-timer on a pass from Taylor Richart that beat Rush net-minder Christian Frey to tie the game up at 1-1 with 6:13 played in the first (Richart and Walters assisted). The Rush, still on the power play following the equalizer, jumped back on top when Alex Kromm deflected a Daniel Leavens shot by Maguire to push the Rush to a 2-1 lead at the 8:46 mark of the frame (Leavens and Tyler Dereksy assisted). Brad Navin countered with the Grizzlies up the ice on a two-on-two break, and dished to a streaking Ryan Walters who deflected the puck by Frey for the tying goal to square the game up at 2-2 with 6:45 left in the first (Navin had the lone assist).
Utah took a 3-2 lead at the midway point of the second period when Kyle Thomas, scooting around the Rush zone, found Cliff Watson jump off the blue line and into the play. Watson blasted a shot by Frey to put the Grizzlies on top with 9:13 gone by in the second (Thomas and Jon Puskar assisted). The Rush clawed back with an equalizer of their own in the last five minutes of the frame when Riley Weselowski forechecked off of his blue line in the offensive zone to keep a drive alive. Weselowski squeaked the puck to Leavens on the near wall, who ripped a top-shelf laser by Maguire to even the game at 3-3 with 3:36 left in the second (Weselowski and Peter Sivak assisted).
Utah eventually overtook the Rush, starting with their first power play of the night on a very generous tripping call against Josh Elmes five and a half minutes into the period. Just a dozen seconds into the man-advantage, Austin Ortega fired a one-timer by Frey to give Utah a lead they wouldn't surrender at 4-3 with 14:14 left in the game (Watson and Thomas notched the helpers). Ortega struck again under two minutes later when he redirected a Ryan Walters shot by Frey to make it a 5-3 Grizzlies lead with 12:26 left in the game (Walters had the lone assist). Jon Puskar struck into an empty net with 72 seconds remaining in the game to bring the contest to its 6-3 final, helping the Grizzlies avoid a four-game sweep in the week's slate of matchups.
Christian Frey stopped 22 of 27 shots faced in suffering the loss (1-8-1).
The Rush now begin their annual "Stock Show Road Trip", and begin with a matchup against the Allen Americans on Wednesday January 24th. Puck drop at the Allen Event Center is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. MST.
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