Midway through the second period, the Rapid City Rush looked well on its was to an easy win against the Utah Grizzlies.

That all changed in five minutes.

Rapid City held off a late charge from Utah Friday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to win 6-5 in a game where it was up 6-1.

"We were playing unbelievable hockey, all over them. They didn't even want the puck," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. "Then we started cheating, thought it was going to be point night. We stopped playing our game and gave them light."

It was Utah that scored first, with a goal from Brendan Harms on assists from Ryan Walters and Kyle Thomas. The goal came four minutes and 34 seconds into the game.

Then, Rapid City woke up and busted loose.

After a  hat trick in Wednesday morning's win over the Grizzlies, Kenton Miller continued his hot streak with a goal 8:44 into the game off assists from Jack Walker and Daniel Leavens.

"He's been snake-bit for a couple of months," Tetrault said. "He's playing with confidence, he's playing hard and he's shooting the puck harder. He's catching fire."

Tetrault said it's important for Miller to step up while the team's other offensive machine, Peter Sivak, is out due to taking family leave.

Miller wouldn't be done, but first Walker got on the goal-sheet with one of his own 13:48 into the period. He was assisted by Tyler Deresky.

Deresky was also able to score himself, which he did 17:32 into the first. He was helped by Matt Caito, and at the end of the first the Rush rebounded to lead 3-1.

The second period was the wild period, and it started out good for the Rush.

Miller got his second goal of the night off an assist from Leavens, and then Evan Janssen scored his seventh of the season nine minutes into the period. He was assisted by Deresky and Caito and a power play.

After that, a different Miller got into the action. Andrew scored his first goal as a member of the Rush off an assist from Walker to make it 6-1 with 7:47 left in the period.

From there, the Rush got a scare.

With 5:01 remaining, Todd Skirving scored what seemed like a meaningless goal at the time off an assist from Ryan Misiak. It would turn out to be important after all, because just 30 seconds later, Brad Navin scored again to make it 6-3 off an assist from Harms.

The Rush then had Caito and Ian Brady in the penalty box to end the period, and Utah inched even closer with a power-play goal from the former Rush captain, Walters.

Tetrault said he hopes his young team can take something away from the win besides the two points it earned in the standings.

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"We found a way to win, we got a big two points," he said. "We're scoring a lot of goals, so that's a good sign, but we have to learn from this. If you go up 5-1 or 6-1 on a team you've really got to clamp down and not change a thing. We got out of our game-plan and started cheating."

The period ended with Utah right back in the game, trailing 6-4. If the Rush's palms weren't sweaty before, they were about to be.

For the first 14 minutes of the third period, not much happened. Until, with 5:50 remaining, Austin Ortega brought the Grizzlies just a bit closer with a goal on assists from Walters and Thomas.

After pulling its goalie Utah had a flurry of chances to tie the game in the final minute, but Rush goalie Adam Vay was able to keep the attempts out of the back of the net, giving the Rush the win.

Tetrault said he told his team to enjoy the win, but not to let it happen the way it did anymore.

"They need to learn from it, and don't let it happen again," he said. "We got the two points, we're scoring goals which is a good sign. A lot of guys stepped up." 

Tetrault said the way his team played for the first one and half periods is a sign of just how good it can be.

"We were playing fast, we were playing so fast," he said. "They were turning it over because of our speed. Our speed is killing them, all these kids can fly, and that's tough to defend. When we play fast like that we turn over the puck lots and we back-check well, that creates turnovers and scoring chances for us."

Rapid City moves to 17-28-2-0 on the season, while Utah is 17-22-6-4. The Rush are chasing the Grizzlies to get out of the Mountain Division basement. Rapid City now has 36 points while Utah stays at 44.

The two meet again tonight at 7:05.

Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.