The Utah Grizzlies couldn’t have dialed up a better opponent against which to get healthy than the last-place Rapid City Rush, and the home team entered the contest champing at the bit.
Exploding for eight goals by eight players, the Grizzlies overwhelmed a dejected Rush goaltender in Adam Vay. In the end, 13 of Utah’s 16 skaters amassed at least one point as Utah annihilated its division foe, skating to the club’s most impressive victory of the season, 8-3.
Utah took an early 2-0 lead on its first five shots as Ryan Walters and Michael Pelech blistered the back of the net. Rapid City would respond with two power play goals, each provided by Pavel Jenys to tie the score. All that did, however, was light a fire under the Grizzlies. Utah would erupt for five goals in 10 minutes during the second period. as Kyle Thomas, Erik Higby, Zach Saar, Ryan Olsen and Gregor Hanson buried any notion Rapid City held of making it a competitive contest
Turning Point • Rapid City had difficulty playing clean hockey throughout the night, committing several turnovers in its defensive zone that were cashed in upon by the home team. With the score tied at 2-2, a pair of breakaways by Erik Higby and Kyle Thomas recaptured a 4-2 lead for Utah.
First STAR • Michael Pelech notched a brilliant top-shelf goal and provided a pair of assists on Kyle Thomas’ and Gregor Hanson’s goals, finishing his night with three points.
Second STAR • Utah’s Kyle Thomas made a triumphant return following a stint at Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego. Capturing a puck on a breakaway, Thomas mesmerized Vay with superior puck handling and buried a successful shot. Thomas would add an assist for two points.
Third STAR • Gregor Hanson also had plenty of offensive swagger, recording a goal on a crisp give-and-go from Pelech. Hanson also assisted Pelech’s and Thomas’ goals.
Quoteworthy • “It’s satisfying to get a win like this,” Pelech said. “We’ve been struggling in the goal-scoring department, so to get a performance like this with eight goals and take some pressure off Kevin [Carr] was huge.”
What’s next • Rapid City Rush at Utah Grizzlies, 7 p.m. Saturday.