Utah Grizzlies: Into the Storm

The Grizzlies came out flying against the Thunder on Monday night, and were rewarded almost immediately, as Ralph Cuddemi pounced on a rebound at 2:45, and Shane Walsh deked out a lone Adirondack defenceman before putting a laser of a backhand past Mason McDonald at 5:10.

Just before the half-way mark, first Colin Martin and then Phil Pietroniro were hit hard, and were slow to get up. Pietroniro remained on the bench, and Martin returned to it before the penalty was even over.

The Grizzlies took full advantage of the power play, and Cuddemi scored his second of the night at 11:51.

Adirondack pushed back a bit after that, but Utah ended the period on a strong note with excellent pressure around the Thunder net. At the end of 20, Grizzlies led 3-0, and outshot the Thunder 11-7.

The first five minutes of the second were pretty scramble-y, and the puck remained in the Utah zone for long stretches of time, but between Faragher, and the Grizzlies’ defensive play, they were able to remain on top in both shots and on the board. That is also not to say that they spent the entire stretch in their own zone, as Cuddemi nearly capped off his hat trick early on.

At 6:53, new acquisition Robbie Donahoe found himself in the penalty box for hooking, but the Grizzlies’ penalty kill was more than up to defending against an unexciting power play. Right after Utah returned to full strength, however, Faragher was called on to make a huge save as a Thunder player got in all alone, and Utah went right back to the penalty kill as Mike Banwell took a seat for hooking. The power play was unable to generate anything as the Grizzlies were quick to jump on every puck.

Just over 12 minutes into the period, the Grizzlies stormed into the offensive zone en mass, and C.J. Eick scored his fourth of the year to put the Grizzlies up 4-0.

Not long thereafter, Walsh got taken down, and Brandon McNally made his return to the lineup felt, as he took on Phil Lane. They both would be assessed double minors for roughing, but as Adirondack took an additional slashing call, the Grizzlies went to the power play. They got a few chances on the man advantage, but Adirondack stemmed the tide.

Unfortunately, with just under two minutes to go, Mathieu Aubin took a highsticking penalty, and the Thunder scored at 18:50. After 40, Utah was up 4-1, but Adirondack had taken the lead in shots, 18-16.

The first half of the third was spent largely in the Grizzlies’ end, but between Faragher’s strong play, and Utah largely keeping Adirondack pinned along the boards, the Grizzlies maintained their lead. At 7:14, Cuddemi was penalized for closing his hand on the puck, but between some well timed clears, and tight defensive play saw them through.

With 6:18 left to play, the Grizzlies had only turned two pucks on McDonald, but rapidly remedied that in the next minute, as Puskar and Amestoy both got chances, putting the shots up to 25-22 for Adirondack.

Going with the bold strategy, Adirondack pulled their goalie down 4-1 with roughly five minutes to go, and the Grizzlies took a number of icing calls as various players, including Faragher, took shots at the empty net that missed by the slimmest of margins, including one that just clanged the post, before Evan Stoflet scored his first of the season into the empty net.

Just seconds thereafter, Adirondack added a second goal, but despite pulling their goalie again, that was as close as the Thunder got.

Faragher, Cuddemi and Stoflet were named the three stars of the game.

It wasn’t a great game, by any means, what with the long stretches hemmed in their own zone, and some general sloppiness, but after two great games against Allen that were lost in such a frustrating manner, sometimes you need a break like this game to get back on track. “We’ll take the two points,” said Coach Branham after the game, “Much, much needed two points, that’s for sure, a big win here at home in front of our awesome fans, and a few things we just gotta clean up, but we’ll definitely savour the moment.”

The same two teams will face off again on Friday and Saturday at 7pm.

 

 

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