It was the Austin Ortega show in the third period, as the Utah Grizzlies snapped the Rapid City Rush’s three game winning streak with a 6-3 victory that included two goals from Ortega in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.
"Not a good game overall, guys weren't ready," Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. "I talked about complacency and not being satisfied, but it's got to come from them too. They've got to figure it out. I can talk about it but too many guys took the night off tonight, way too many. They wanted it more and they deserved the win."
Tetrault said after Saturday’s win he was concerned with the way his team had started in the last two games, but Sunday that wasn’t an issue. Three minutes and 53 seconds into the game Daniel Leaves scored his sixth goal of the season on assists from Dante Salituro and Riley Weselowski.
Still Tetrault said he was disappointed in the energy his team started with despite the early goal.
"Talked about the start and we weren't ready to play, and it cost us at the end," he said. "Too many guys took the night off, it's disappointing."
Utah would respond, with 13:45 left in the first Brendan Harms scored with help from Ryan Walters and Taylor Richart.
The Rush would get a goal back on a power play, something they haven’t done much of this season, bosting the 16th best power play in the ECHL at 17 percent after Sunday’s game.
Alex Kromm scored off assists from Leavens and Tyler Deresky with 11:14 to go in the period.
Former Rush captain Ryan Walters got a revenge goal on the team that traded him with 6:45 left in the first period. He was assisted by Brad Navin and the first period ended with the score tied at two.
Utah would score next when Cliff Watson lit the lamp with assists from Kyle Thomas and Jon Puskar with 10:45 left in the period, but the Rush would respond with a goal of their own from Leavens again on assists from Weselowski and Peter Sivak with 3:36 to go in the period.
The period would end in a 3-3 tie, and for the first five minutes of the third neither team was able to get many pucks on either net.
Then, Ortega happened.
His first goal came 13 seconds into a power play where Josh Elmes was sent to the penalty box for a tripping minor. He was assisted by Watson and Thomas.
One minute and 18 seconds later Ortega scored again, and the Grizzlies had their insurance goal. That goal was assisted by Walters.
Walters finished with five points (two goals and three assists) in his most recent return to Rapid City.
Puskar added an empty net goal with 1:12 left.
Rapid City is now 13-24-2-0 with 28 points and Utah is 15-17-6-3 with 39 points.
The Rush begin a six-game, 12 day, five-city road trip Wednesday with a trip to Texas to take on the Allen Americans.
Tetrault said his team has to "throw away" Sunday's game and focus on getting wins on the road. In it's last 10 road games, Rapid City is 3-7 but Tetrault said the team has played some good hockey.
"There's no pressure on the road, and we've played well on the road lately so we just need to keep it simple and we'll need everyone going," he said. "It's a good time for the team to bond together, and we'll take it one game at a time. We've got to throw this one out the window."
The puck will be dropped from Allen Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. mountain standard time.