The Rapid City Rush have been on the receiving end of some blowouts this season.
Saturday night, it was the Rush’s turn to take it to an opponent.
Everything went right for Rapid City, behind three Dante Salituro goals, 54 saves from Adam Vay and a very large and noisy crowd the Rush routed the Utah Grizzlies 8-3 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
"I was waiting for a game like this out of my guys," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. "We have the talent to put up seven or eight goals, and tonight it happened, the flood gates opened. Guys are starting to get confidence and guys are starting to score goals, and it's spread out throughout the whole lineup, which is great."
Vay was spectacular in goal all night, as Utah attempted 57 shots, with only three getting by him.
"I've had a couple games where I've had a lot of shots, so it wasn't anything new," Vay said. "I just had to find a new way to push myself to keep going and not feel like I'm tired. It's easy to find if the defense in zone is working great, it's easy if the defense works with the goalie."
Tetrault said he hopes the Rush are able to give Vay and backup goalie Christian Frey a break by not allowing as many shots as they have the last two nights.
"I'd like to clamp it down defensively a little bit and not allow as many shots, but hey, Utah shoots everything on goal from everywhere," he said. "Adam Vay was great tonight, he was dialed in. He's playing well right now, full of confidence. That's what you need to win games, you need goal-tending to step up and win you games and that's what's been happening."
Like Friday night, the Rush offense struggled early to get pucks to the net. Utah took the first five shots on Vay and the offense didn’t register a shot until four minutes and 25 seconds into the game.
When Rapid City was able to get pucks to the net, however, it was able to capitalize. With 12:42 remaining in the first, Dante Salituro scored his 15th goal of the season off assists from Peter Sivak and Ian Brady to give Vay a little bit of breathing room.
After scoring three goals Friday night, Sivak had to get into the action again, this time with 6:07 left in the first off an assist from Salituro. The goal continued the first line’s hot streak as well.
Tetrault said he had that line going against the Utah line manned by former Rush captain Ryan Walters, who was traded for Sivak earlier this season.
"They dominated them. They played hard, they played gritty and when they had the chances in the slot area or around the net they buried (them)," he said.
The Rush did more damage just two minutes later, as it seemed Utah starter Sean Maguire was struggling to get any stops. Kenton Miller scored on a breakaway to make it 3-0 with 2:06 remaining in the period off an assist from Chase Lang.
Maguire was pulled after giving up three goals on only seven shots.
Despite outshooting Rapid City 16-8 in the first period, all Utah had to show was a three-goal deficit
That deficit would only grow.
Rapid City’s second line would step up in the second period. Within seven minutes the Rush would have their fourth goal, scored by Tyler Deresky off an assist from Alex Kromm.
Only 1:30 later, Rapid City would have its fifth goal off the stick of Jack Walker, assisted by Dereksy.
After a brutal open ice shot from Utah’s Kyle Thomas to Lang over the middle, Josh Elmes stepped in for the Rush and took Thomas on in a fight. Both went to the bench with five minute majors, but it was Rapid City that was re-energized as it scored again just seconds after the fight.
Kromm scored on assists from Eric Shand and Deresky 14:18 into the period.
With .6 of a second left, the Grizzlies scored their first goal, as Jon Puskar poked a goal by Vay off a faceoff. He was assisted by Taylor Richart.
Rapid City ended the period leading 6-1.
Thirty-three seconds into the third period, Rapid City scored again, after Maguire came back in to replace Redmond, Salituro scored his second goal on an assist from Brady.
Utah would get one back 30 seconds later when James Melindy scored his first of the season off an assist from Brad Navin.
Salituro got his hat trick with 11:30 remaining the third off an assist from Daniel Leavens while the Rush were short-handed.
The final goal of the night came from Utah, as Austin Ortega scored on an assist from Cliff Watson with 2:50 remaining.
Rapid City improves to 13-23-2-0 with 28 points, while Utah falls to 14-17-6-3 with 37 points. The two conclude their series today at 3 p.m.
Tetrault said today is an important game for a young Rush team, currently on a three-game winning streak. He said he knows how fragile these kind of hot streaks can be.
"I didn't like our starts the last two games either. I know we won both games but our starts haven't been good and you know Utah is going to play with a lot of pride," he said. "We have to be ready to play right from the get-go. It's going to be a different game tomorrow and we have to be dialed in, get the two points before the long road trip and keep that confidence building."