The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Rapid City Rush, 6-5, in overtime Friday night at Maverik Center.
“We’ve had a tough stretch. The boys have done a great job of battling through adversity,” head coach and General Manager Tim Branham said.
“They played really good hockey through that stretch. It’s never going to be easy; life isn’t easy. The boys stuck together. They did everything we asked and it showed.”
The Grizzlies fell behind 1-0, 5:32 into the first period but responded to score three straight to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. Utah led 4-3 and then 5-4 before closing out the victory as Mike Banwell tapped home a Ralph Cuddemi (two assists) shot on a two-on-one 3:34 into the overtime.
Jon Puskar tied the game at one as he fired on a two-on-one for his seventh goal of the year 9:29 into the first period. Erik Bradford (one goal, two assists) started his three-point night with his fourth goal of the year 2:23 later as he took a pass from Taylor Richart at the blue line and walked to the net before knocking in a second chance from his knees. Utah made it 3-1 as Johnny McInnis tipped in a shot from Banwell.
“Jon’s goal was tremendous,” said Branham. “C.J. Eick played with a ton of energy the previous shift and Puskar made a great shot.”
Rapid City tied the game at three with two goals in less than two minutes at the halfway point before the two teams traded goals 37 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the second period. Mathieu Aubin scored on the power play to give Utah the short lead with his sixth goal of the season.
Each team scored off a faceoff in the third period as Mike Banwell threw in a shot from the point with 8:53 left after Higby won a faceoff and Bradford tipped to Banwell. The Rush tied the contest with 2:29 left in the third period.
Ryan McKay entered for Ryan Faragher to start the third period and earned his first professional win as he stopped three of four shots. Faragher was unable to start the frame following a collision after a save on a Rapid City breakaway in the second period.
Utah allowed a season-low three shots in the third period.
“Our puck possession in that third period was tremendous,” said Branham. “We controlled the pace.”
The Grizzlies host Rapid City again on Saturday at 7 p.m., for Star Wars Night. The team will be wearing Star Wars Jerseys that will be auctioned off live after the game.