Cedric Montminy scored the game-tying goal late in regulation, then added the game-winner in the penalty shootout as the Rapid City Rush came back to beat the Utah Grizzlies 4-3 in ECHL action Saturday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Rapid City came back from down 3-1 with a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes to come away with a four-point set against Utah. The win capped a reunion weekend on a high note for the Rush, who celebrated winning the CHL Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup 10 seasons ago with a four-point weekend.
“We showed a lot of character, down 3-1,” Rush head coach Daniel Tetrault said. “We just kept coming and never gave up. We stuck with the program and tied it up at the end.”
The win keeps Rapid City in a tie with the Idaho Steelheads for first in the ECHL’s Mountain Division.
“Perfect weekend for us,” said Montminy, a native of Sherbrooke, Quebec. “It’s all about confidence. If you know you’re going out there and you’re confident about yourself, you’re going to score goals.”
The Rush got off to a strong start Saturday night, using a strong forecheck to keep play in the Grizzlies’ end early on.
Brennan Saulnier fired a point blank shot on Utah goalie Mason McDonald, who came up with the initial save. McDonald gave up a rebound and Saulnier poked it home to put Rapid City up 1-0 7:40 into the contest.
From then on, the Rush spent the rest of the first period on the penalty kill, though the Grizzlies didn’t capitalize on the man-advantage during the opening 20 minutes.
The Grizzlies did score the equalizer just seconds after Giovanni Fiore stepped out of the penalty box. Utah's Ryan Wagner scored an even-strength goal with a minute to go in the first to tie the game at 1-1.
The Rush continued to struggle against penalties in the second. The Grizzlies took a 2-1 lead at the 5:03 mark when Taylor Richart beat Rush goalie Tyler Parks with a slapshot from 20 feet out for a power play goal.
Frustrations for Rapid City came to a boil with 6:19 left in the second period when Utah’s Travis Barron boarded Tyler Coulter while the Grizzlies were on a 5-on-3 man advantage. Dane Birks came to Coulter’s defense, leading to a scuffle with Barron, Kevin Davis and Griffen Molina near center ice. After a long delay, Davis and Barron were ejected, as was Coulter.
The Rush skated 5-on-3 late in the second stanza after Peter Tischke and Molino took minor penalties, but Rapid City couldn’t capitalize in the final minute of the second and first minute of the third while skating 5-on-4.
Utah built a 3-1 lead with 14:32 remaining in the game when Yuri Teroa scored with Wagner assisting, quieting a Rush crowd that had been noisy to that point.
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Tyler Poulsen drew the Rush within 3-2 when he poked home a rebound of Trey Phillips' shot from the blue line with 9:25 to go for his second goal of the season.
The Rush had two golden opportunities to score shorthanded and tie the game after Phillips took a tripping minor at the 7:44 mark.
The first came when Alex Rauter nearly got the equalizer after Utah’s Cole Cassels mishandled the puck in from of Mason McDonald, leaving Rauter with a point-blank wrist shot. McDonald made a glove save.
Seconds later, Rapid City came in on an odd-man rush, led by Saulnier. Saulnier centered the puck to Montminy, who was breaking in along the left wing. McDonald deflected Montminy's wrist shot into the corner.
Hungry for a goal as time ran down, Tetrault pulled Parks and sent Montminy onto the ice, as Myles McGurty took possession of the puck near center ice. Skating hard to get into Utah's end of the ice, Montminy got the equalizer with 1:17 left when he banged home the rebound of McGurty’s shot that came in from the left faceoff circle.
“I knew he saw me,” Montminy said of McGurty. “He put a nice shot on the net and it came right onto my tape. Perfect play.”
Fiore nearly got the game-winning goal with 39.2 seconds left in regulation when he threw the puck on net from the left corner. McDonald froze with the puck under with pads as Rush players pushed to the net, looking for a rebound.
Same for Rush forward Peter Quenneville, whose wrister in the final seconds went off McDonald’s right shoulder as time expired in the third period.
Overtime, with the teams playing 3-on-3, saw both teams with golden scoring opportunities, but Parks and McDonald both make big saves to keep the score at 3-3 after seven minutes of extra play.
Then, with the penalty shootout tied at 1-1, Montminy beat McDonald over his right shoulder, getting the puck just under the crossbar. Parks then forced Cole Cassels to miss wide left to secure the Rush’s fifth consecutive win.
“I’m glad we got that extra point,” Tetrault said, with noise still pouring from the Rush locker room. “Those extra points, they count at the end of the year.”
The Rush (5-1-1-0) go on the road for their next three games, playing against the Americans at Allen on Nov. 1-2, then the Tulsa Oilers on Nov. 3. Rapid City returns home for a three-game set against the Idaho Steelheads on Nov. 6 and Nov. 8-9.
Utah (2-4-1-0) has a three-game home and home series coming up against Idaho. The Grizzlies play at Idaho on Nov. 1 before hosting the Steelheads on Nov. 2-3.