Utah Grizzlies: Friday Night Fun

After the 6-2 victory on Wednesday, the Grizzlies got back to work against the Tulsa Oilers. Utah’s lineup remained the same, with the exception of Ryan Faragher who, fresh off the announcement of signing an NHL deal with the Ducks, took a scheduled night off. Troy Redmann got the start, and had a terrific game.

The Grizzlies got off to a very good start, getting three shots less than a minute into the game, but Tulsa got their bearings, and got some zone time of their own.

Utah drew the first power play of the night at 6:19, as Dennis Brown was sent off for slashing.  However, the Grizzlies would be called for too many men, part way through the man advantage.

Just over ten minutes into the period, in what was possibly one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the evening, Danick Paquette and Travis Howe dropped the gloves. Both players got in some good punches, and after a lengthy bout, they were separated with no clear victor. Both players got five for fighting, and an additional two for removing their helmets.

Mere minutes later, Erik Bradford scored his eighth of the year to give the Grizzlies the 1-0 lead with assists to Michael Pelech and Troy Redmann.

Jon Puskar went off for hooking at 14:43, but the Grizzlies’penalty kill was, as they have been so often of late, quite strong, and fought the Oilers off, before drawing a penalty of their own with about a minute and a half left in the period.

At the end of 20, shots were 10-7 for Utah, who also led 1-0.

The Grizzlies began the second period on a 26 second power play, and Ralph Cuddemi almost capitalized, but Tulsa returned to full strength before they could register more than one shot.

Tulsa took another penalty almost immediately thereafter, and the Grizzlies made them pay for it, Colin Martin putting the Grizzlies up 2-0 with assists from Austen Brassard and Phil Pietroniro.

At 2:50, Danick Gauthier boarded Taylor Richart behind the Grizzlies net and was sent to the box.

Scarcely had Tulsa returned to full strength than Emerson Clark tried to take a piece of Pietroniro, who wisely skated away.

Howe took exception to Clark’s attempt, and he went to the box too – though to serve the Grizzlies’ second too many men penalty of the night.

Richart, seemingly none the worse for wear, made the game 3-0, tapping in a beautiful pass from Brassard, who got his second primary assist of the night. Hardly had the goal been announced when Tim Daly scored his eighth goal of the year, putting the Grizzlies up 4-0, and resulting in a goalie change for Tulsa.

Down 4-0 with more than half the period left, Tulsa tried to push back, but the Grizzlies continued to skate hard, making it difficult for the Oilers to create useful chances. And when they got shots off, Redmann was more than ready to shut the door.

Howe took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 10:58, but Redmann and the penalty kill fought Tulsa off. The Oilers continued to hold offensive zone following their power play, but the Grizzlies did a great job of getting in the lanes and taking away shots, while whatever got through was deftly handled by Redmann.

At the end of 40, the Grizzlies still held the 4-0 lead, outshooting Tulsa to the tune of 24-16.

Pietroniro took a holding penalty eight seconds into the period and Tulsa established themselves well on the power play, but again, the Grizzlies’penalty kill was up for the task, and the penalty kill ended with an up-ice rush.

Redmann came up with a number of great saves, and the Grizzlies went to the power play as Clark slashed Pietroniro at 3:41. Cam Reid negated the power play at 4:28 as he tripped up a Tulsa player, and the teams played 4-on-4.

5:11 into the period, Danick Gauthier threw the puck on net, and while Redmann made the initial save, Paquette jumped on the rebound and made it 4-1.

Tulsa cut the lead in half with 7:41 left in the game, but the Grizzlies responded well, with two lengthy shifts in the Oilers’ end.

With just over five minutes left to go, Martin drew a hooking penalty, and the Grizzlies’power play went to work. Tulsa took a tripping penalty shortly thereafter, sending Utah to 1:13 of 5-on-3.

The Grizzlies were unable to convert on either advantage, and  Tulsa pulled their goalie with 1:40 left to play.

Though the Oilers fought, and fought hard to get another goal, the Grizzlies effectively shut the door to earn two more points.

“We’re getting a lot of bounces that we weren’t getting earlier on the year and everyone is working a full sixty” said Daly after the game, “Everyone’s just having fun right now. When that’s happening its way easier to work for your teammates and work for yourself so it’s a lot of fun right now.” On his own superb play this year he added, “I approach every game the same way but I think it has a lot to do with confidence, and I’m playing with more confidence than I ever have right now, and I think that really shows with the offensive production.”

“Daly played thirty-one minutes tonight,” Coach Branham was quick to point out. “For a guy to do that, play over half the game, and contribute the way he does is tremendous. So kudos to him and that entire D core. I think the difference is just, we are winning the battles back there. I don’t know…too many blocked shots to count, that’s for sure. Guys are just competing and doing whatever it takes to keep the puck out of your net. You know. And then on the offensive side our guys are really talented, we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, it’s really fun to watch.”

The Grizzlies have indeed been fun to watch of late, and hope to finish the homestand in a similar manner tonight against Tulsa.

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