The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Rapid City Rush, 8-3, on Friday night at Maverik Center.
Utah received eight goals from eight different players. Three players had three-point nights and six players had at least two points. Sam Windle set an all-time Utah record with a plus-seven in the game. Kyle Thomas had one goal and one assist in his return to the lineup after being assigned back to Utah on Wednesday.
“We needed that,” said head coach and General Manager Tim Branham. “This feels good. We haven't won in awhile here at home. We have been playing good hockey, we just haven't been able to score goals. When you add a player like Kyle Thomas it just kind of completes things. It makes that Hanson-Pelech-Thomas line fabulous and then you follow it up with Walters-Olsen-Misiak. It's nice to score some goals. It really gives the boys confidence and I thought we played a tremendous game.”
Utah jumped up 1-0, 3:54 into the game as newly anointed captain Ryan Walters (one goal, one assist) scored his seventh of the season on a slap shot to trigger the team’s Teddy Bear Toss, presented by Ford. The stuffed animals will be donated by the team to patients at Primary Children’s Hospital, The Road Home and other local charities.
“Right from day one we have talked about how Ryan Walters has led by example,” said Branham. “Everyone else is kind of following suit. That's what he does; he gets the big goal and gets us going.”
Michael Pelech (one goal, two assists) made it 2-0, 8:57 into the game as Greger Hanson (one goal, two assists) picked off a puck at the blue line and Pelech (one goal, two assists) walked in one-on-one with the Rapid City goalie.
The Rush tied the game with a pair of power-play goals at 13:31 of the first and 4:34 into the second period.
Utah responded with three goals in 5:18 to break the tie and make it 5-2 as Kyle Thomas (one goal, one assist), Erik Higby and Zach Saar scored.
Ryan Olsen (one goal, two assists) made it 6-2 and Hanson 7-3 going to the second intermission 45 seconds after another Rapid City power-play goal.
Ryan Misiak (one goal, two assists) made it 8-3 with 6:35 left in regulation on a pass from Olsen.
Utah goaltender Kevin Carr made 21 saves for his seventh win of the season.
“It's another big game tomorrow,” said Branham. “I want to feel the same way tomorrow, but we have to play with that same energy, that same pace. We did a great job of getting pucks in the net, getting bodies in the net. We played a hungry game—that was great to see—a hungry game for a full 60 minutes.”