2022 Rapid City Rush vs Utah Grizzlies

ECHL Mountain Finals Preview: Rapid City, Utah Collide

ECHL Mountain Finals Preview: Rapid City, Utah Collide

Utah Grizzlies and Rapid City Rush, the first and second seed out of the Mountain Division, meet in the division finals to settle a score.

May 6, 2022 by Mike Ashmore
ECHL Mountain Finals Preview: Rapid City, Utah Collide

There is no rest for the weary.

After winning the league’s most recent Game 7, a 5-2 victory over the Tulsa Oilers on Wednesday, the Utah Grizzlies are thrown right back into the fire. They’re set to host the Rapid City Rush in Game 1 of the Mountain Division Finals at 9:10 ET on Friday night, which will be broadcast exclusively on FloHockey. 

Utah certainly earned their first trip to the second round in six years, while the drought has been even longer for their opponent, the Rapid City Rush, who haven’t made it out of the first round since the 2014-15 season—their first year in the ECHL.

Although the Grizzlies ended the year as the top seed in the Mountain, that they got taken to the limit wasn’t entirely a surprise given how competitive that division was from top to bottom this season. Only nine points separated the Grizzlies and four seed Tulsa, and a gap of 24 points between Utah and last place Wichita was easily the smallest of any division in the league.

The Grizzlies went 4-2 in six meetings with the Rush during the regular season, but somehow haven’t played since wrapping up a four-game series in Rapid City on January 1. Plenty of roster changes since then would make speculating how a series in the Kelly Cup Playoffs might unfold murky at best.

Benjamin Tardif has led the way up front for Utah, finishing the first round tied for the leading scorer of the postseason with 13 points, including two assists in Game 7. Trey Bradley is one of six forwards in the league who finished the first round with double-digit points. But it’s defenseman Charle-Edouard D’Astous who’s been the player to watch as a whole, as he’s scored a stunning nine goals from the blueline—five on the power play—and further cemented his regular season honor as the ECHL’s Defenseman of the Year.

In goal for Utah, Peyton Jones has gotten two starts, including a Game 1 win, but it’s been Trent Miner being used as the workhorse thus far. He’s won three of his five games, posting a .937 save percentage along the way. For Rapid City, goaltender Lukas Parik was the stalwart. He played every minute in net of their five-game series win over Allen, posting a 2.11 goals against average that’s best among goaltenders who played in five or more contests.

While Utah could likely use a longer break, the Rush can’t get back at it soon enough as they’ve been dormant since the April 30th clincher against Allen. Rapid City only got one goal from a defenseman all series—Tyson Helgesen has those honors—and has instead seen incredible depth in scoring from their forwards, with nine lighting the lamp at least once. Calder Brooks and Logan Nelson lead the way with four goals each, while Brett Gravelle has racked up seven assists in his first five Kelly Cup Playoffs games.

No. 1 Utah Grizzlies Vs. No. 2 Rapid City Rush

Game 1 – Friday, May 6 at 9:10 p.m. ET at Utah
Game 2 – Saturday, May 7 at 9:10 p.m. ET at Utah
Game 3 – Monday, May 9 at 9:05 p.m. ET at Rapid City
Game 4 – Tuesday, May 10 at 9:05 p.m. ET at Rapid City
Game 5 – Wednesday, May 11 at 9:05 p.m. ET at Rapid City (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Monday, May 16 at 9:10 p.m. ET at Utah (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Tuesday, May 17 at 9:10 p.m. ET at Utah (If Necessary)