Blaze defenseman Tysen Dowzak works during Bloomington's 4-1 win over the Rapid City Rush on Friday, December 21, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Ill. (Photo by Jakob Blome)
By Greg Halbleib
BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington Blaze were led by the second hat trick of the season from Tyler Gron and defeated the Rapid City Rush 4-1 on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
The Blaze opened the scoring with 11:42 remaining in the first period on a Tyler Gron wrister from the left circle that hit the left post and bounded in, with assists given to Jon Booras and Jesse Dudas. Gron connected on a tic-tac-toe at the left post on passes from Nicklas Lindberg and Sebastien Trudeau on a power play with only nine seconds left in the period to give the Blaze a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
After a scoreless second period, the Blaze went ahead 3-0 just 1:43 into the final chapter when Jon Booras drove a rebound into a wide open net off assists from Jesse Dudas and Gron. The Rush countered quickly just 1:25 later when Kyle Peto scored just seven seconds into a power play from assists by Jarrett Konkle and Damien Surma to cut the Blaze lead to 3-1. Gron completed the hat trick with a spectacular goal in which he deked and went around two Rush skaters to find himself open for a drive on the doorstep to put the Blaze ahead 4-1.
Dan Dunn earned the win in the Blaze goal with 31 saves. Danny Battochio took the loss with 24 saves. The Blaze were 2-of-5 on the power play while the Rush power play was 1-of-5.
The Blaze rematch with the Rush on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. Admission is only $5 with a voucher that can be found at www.bloomingtonblaze.com or the Blaze Facebook page. Fans can also win tickets to one of the sold-out concerts by Luke Bryan, and the more fans who attend, the more tickets to the show will be given away. Ticket information is available through the U.S. Cellular Coliseum box office at 309-434-2679.
Junior Blaze update: The Junior Blaze lost a late lead and fell in a shootout 4-3 to the Rhinelander Street Cats on Friday afternoon. Kyler Schmor scored two goals while Steven Smoltz contributed two assists. The Junior Blaze rematch with the Street Cats at 3 p.m. Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, and admission is included in the Blaze ticket.