Utah Grizzlies: Turning the Tables

After falling 3-0 on Friday despite amassing 42 shots, and playing pretty well, the Grizzlies were highly motivated coming into the matinee rematch.

Coach Branham elected to go with eleven forwards, scratching defenseman Garrett Haar in favor of Travis Howe – a decision which ended up paying off in spades. Ryan Faragher got the start again, facing down Ryan Massa, who looked to extend his 12o minute shut-out streak.

The Grizzlies came out of the gate with speed, and Travis Howe made it 1-0 at 1:29, breaking the shut-out streak, and picking up his second goal of the year on a nice shot. Austen Brassard and C.J. Eick drew the assists.

Utah continued to press hard after Howe’s goal, getting a number of chances, including a beautiful, point-blank shot from Higby. Faragher was also called upon to make some saves of his own, which he did with alacrity.

Utah picked up an 8-5 shot advantage through the first four minutes, as the Grizzlies continued to drive the play. Utah drew the first power play of the night, but though they got a few looks, they were unable to capitalize.

The Grizzlies negated their power play at 11:16, but they played well on the ensuing 4-on-4, and killed off the ensuing 5-on-4 thanks both to the penalty kill and some excellent play from Faragher.

No sooner had Orlando returned to full strength, than the speed of Pietroniro and Erik Bradford drew yet another penalty, sending the teams back to 4-on-4 before a Utah power play.

The Grizzlies drew two more penalties toward the end of the first, including one right at the buzzer.

After 20 the Grizzlies maintained the 1-0 lead, and had outshot the Solar Bears 14-11.

Utah began the second period with a lengthy 5-on-3. They were unable to capitalize on the two-man advantage, despite a number of strong shifts. However, Colin Martin scored on a nifty little spin-o-rama just as the first penalty expired. Cam Reid got his 20th assist of the year, and Pietroniro picked up the secondary for his 13th.

Orlando pushed back after the goal, but the Eick-Puskar-Howe line pushed right back, and the teams continued to trade chances, Faragher and Massa both making some excellent saves.

Michael Pelech took an interference call at 8:04, but the Grizzlies killed it off. Gabriel Verpaelst and Martin Nemcik got involved in a slight scuffle around Faragher with the Solar Bears forwards, and Verpaelst got jumped by Taylor Doherty as the teams returned to the bench. Both got four for roughing, though Doherty more or less grabbed Verpaelst and pummeled him without much resistance.

Off the very next faceoff, Howe and Daniel Maggio dropped the gloves. Maggio got the take down after a spirited bout, and both were sent to cool their heels in the box just past the half-way point.

Austen Brassard took a slashing minor with 5:38 to go. The Bears got some pretty good looks, but the Grizzlies’ penalty kill remained strong. At the end of 40, the Grizzlies remained up 2-0, but had been outshot 26-20.

Orlando came out with some jump in their step in the third period, but Faragher stood strong.

Puskar drew a power play with 11:16 left to go, but though the Grizzlies maintained possession and zone time for the majority of the man advantage, they were unable to beat the penalty killers.

Utah ran into some penalty problems of their own, as Reid took a slashing call at 11:12, and Verpaelst joined him at 11:25 for boarding. However, the penalty kill was so good that Faragher hardly saw any shots.

With 4:42 to go, Pelech drew an interference call, sending the Grizzlies to a power play of their own, and the officials were quick to break up Pietroniro and Chris Crane before more than words could be exchanged. The Grizzlies were unable to generate much on the man advantage.

Orlando pulled their goalie with just over a minute to go, but they took a penalty with 1:52 left to go. Utah finished the game on the power play, but were more or less content to kill time as the clock wound down.

When the final buzzer sounded, Faragher collected his second shut out of the season with 39 saves, and was named first star of the game. Howe and Martin were named the second and third stars of the game respectively, and the Grizzlies headed back to Utah with four of six points.

Utah is off until Friday, when they play the first of five straight games against the Colorado Eagles.

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