WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah- The Utah Grizzlies and Rapid City Rush will battle in the second round of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The craziest game of the season series came back on December 29, 2021, when the Grizzlies had to start the local emergency backup goaltender due to unforeseen circumstances with a goalie they had just signed after Garrett Metcalf went to the AHL. Brady Devries, who was home on winter break from Arizona, had to start for the Grizzlies against the team he grew up watching.
Trey Bradley scored a hat-trick with two in the third and the game-winner 22 seconds into the extra frame. Most of the games ended in three or fewer goals except for an odd game where the Rush scored ten goals against the Grizzlies on March 5. However, this will be their first postseason meeting as the Grizzlies have never faced the Rush in the playoffs.
As the 2022-23 ECHL Schedule came out on Thursday, it set up the perfect glimpse into the future as these two teams will start next season against each other.
Final Regular Season Records:
Utah Grizzlies: 42-27-2-1, 87 points, 0.604 win percentage (1st in Mountain Division)
Rapid City Rush: 36-25-6-5, 83 points, 0.576 win percentage (2nd in Mountain Division)
How They Got Here:
Utah defeated the Tulsa Oilers in the Mountain Division Semifinals, 4-3. Meanwhile, Rapid City defeated the Allen Americans 4-1.
Game 1- Friday, May 6 – Rapid City at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT
Game 2- Saturday, May 7 – Rapid City at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT
Game 3- Monday, May 9 – Utah at RAPID CITY – 7:05 pm MDT
Game 4- Tuesday, May 10 – Utah at RAPID CITY – 7:05 pm MDT
Game 5- Wednesday, May 11- Utah at RAPID CITY – 7:05 pm MDT*
Game 6- Monday, May 16 – Rapid City at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT*
Game 7- Tuesday, May 17 – Rapid City at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT*
*= If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
Both squads won six games; however, the Rush got two extra points during the season, losing twice in overtime. Utah went 6-6 for 12 points, and the Rush went 6-4-2 for 14 points. The player of the series for Utah was Bradley, who led the team in points and goals against the Rush with 14 points (6G,8A). In goal, Peyton Jones went 3-1-1 against Rapid City with a 2.90 goals-against-average.
Max Coatta and Gabriel Chabot, who both tallied 13 points in the season series, led the Rush in the season series. Lukas Parik was the leading man in the net throughout the season, going 3-2-2 against Utah with a 2.68 goals-against average.
How Utah Wins:
Utah can defeat the Rush with solid goaltending as Trent Miner did against Tulsa. The Grizzlies have a 1-2 punch in goal with Miner and Jones both available and possibly the first five games in six days, and for Utah, a possibility of six games in eight days, Utah will need the services of both of their goalies. In addition, Charlie-Edouard D’Astous will be trying to pick up where he left off in the first round. In the playoffs so far, he has a league-leading 12 points in seven games (nine goals and three assists) for defensemen. A key in Utah’s playoff race was Mason Mannek, who had a very quiet first round against Tulsa despite an outstanding regular season. For the Grizzlies to continue to advance, they will need the forward to get back to his regular-season form.
How Rapid City Wins:
The Rush can take this series from Utah if they can catch the Grizzlies sleeping during the transition phase. Another key to the Rush taking this series is stopping the top scorers for Utah, such as Benjamin Tardif, Tarun Fizer, and D’Astous. Another key is getting traffic in front of the net and shooting pucks. Tulse proved in the last round against Utah that you’ll eventually get some quality goals and wins if you keep shooting. It will also help if guys like Logan Nelson, Stephen Baylis, and Brett Gravelle get more goals.
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