The Grizzlies complete their seven-game road trip Friday and Saturday in Allen against the Americans.
Joel Rumpel stopped 24-of-26 shots for a 2.03 goals against average and a .923 save percentage Saturday in Rapid City as he made his Utah debut. The only two goals that he allowed came on the power play. He is now 40-24-6 in the ECHL with a 2.83 goals against average and .908 save percentage. He went 24-11-5 with Allen and was a member of two of its ECHL Kelly Cup Championship teams during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Captain Ryan Walters scored his team-leading 20th goal of the year on Friday night in Rapid City and has 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in 40 games.
The Grizzlies are close to getting Michael Pelech in the lineup. Pelech has missed 13-straight games since an injury Jan. 13, in Wichita. He was the team’s leading scorer at the time of his injury with 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points in 35 games. Rookie forward Zach Saar is also possible to return this weekend having also missed 13-straight games. Forward Charley Graaskamp (16-straight games) and Chris Leibinger (five-straight games) are also close to returning to the Utah lineup.
Before Saturday, Utah had a season-high 21 goals in its last five games, had 11 power-play goals in its last seven games and was 35 for its last 38 on the penalty kill. In the 2-1 loss, Utah scored to take an early 1-0 lead, went 0-4 on the power play and Rapid City scored on its first two power-play chances.
Brendan Harms has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in his last 11 games. Brad Navin has five goals and three assists for nine points in his last 11 games.
Coach Tim Branham issued the following statement last week on the radio after trading third-year Utah forward Jon Puskar to Wichita in exchange for goaltender Joel Rumpel:
“Jon and I had a great conversation. It’s mutually beneficial. He did a great job for us. We gave him his start in this league. He’s going to have success in Wichita. We needed to go out and get a goaltender. I’ll be keeping in touch with Jon for life. He’s a great guy, unbelievable in the community (and) did a great job for this organization. I think it was just time for a change. We wish him all the best. He’s a great friend and a great hockey player.”
The Grizzlies return home for a Maverik Monday Matinee on Monday, Feb. 19, against Idaho. On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24, the Grizzlies team with Stadler to fight cancer. For $20, fans can get a lower bowl ticket to either game, a Grizzlies Fight Cancer T-Shirt, $5 donated to the local organization of their choice fighting cancer and a ticket will be donated to someone fighting cancer or a family member. After Friday’s game, fans are invited onto the ice to paint the name of someone close to them who has battled or is fighting cancer. Saturday, the team will auction off the specialty jerseys that the team will wear that weekend with all proceeds going to fight cancer.