Utah Grizzlies: Runaway Train

Hey everyone! I’m back from vacation, which was awesome, but I returned to a hectic couple of days of catching up on work and life. Apologies for the delay in getting the recap up! All my fine promises to myself at the start of this season that I was always going to get the post up the day after a game, and I’ve already broken them! Hopefully it won’t happen again.


Travis Howe returned from his one game suspension, Gregor Hanson got called up prior to the game, and Angus Redmond made the start on Marvel Night, but otherwise, the lineup was the same as it had been the night before. Utah suited up in some pretty snazzy looking Thor-themed jerseys, while the Railers faced them dressed as Hulk.

The specialty jerseys were great. The game? Not so much.

“That’s a good team over there.” Head Coach Tim Branham said of Worchester after the game. “I thought they played the same way both games, to be honest. I remember yesterday [Friday] yelling and screaming on the bench that we needed to pick up our effort because we were being outworked, and we just happened to outscore them. Tonight, same thing. They just outworked us and beat us to every lose puck. You’ve got to give them credit. They work hard 100%. They work hard, and they have players that can make plays. It was kind of too little too late for us. I’ve been preaching that for two games now.

“We found a way yesterday, and today, when you lose one of your leading scorers it makes it that much harder. When that happens you’ve got to play tighter defensively, and work harder, and we didn’t step up. For this group, we talk about that puck possession game, and Worcester did a good job of not allowing us to play that puck possession game through their energy and work ethic. You’ve got to give them props for that, and we’ve got to learn something from that.”

Worcester made it 1-0 exactly one minute in to the game.

The two teams exchanged a chance or two, but not many of them, one of the best coming from Charley Graaskamp on a pass from Brendan Harms.

Howe harassed Yanick Turcotte for a shift, and when he failed to get a rise out of him, went after Patrick McNally, which did succeed in drawing out Turcotte. While Turcotte took down Howe, when the penalties were assessed, Worcester had an extra two for slashing.

Harms and Graaskamp teamed up again for another pretty chance on the power play, but the Railers returned to full strength with no change in score. In what was likely a makeup call for the extra slash, Brad Navin took a slashing penalty of his own at 12:55, but the Grizzlies killed that off as well.

The Railers made it 2-0 with 3:26 to go in the frame, and Mitch Jones took an interference penalty moments thereafter.

Utah had a scoring chance with less than 30 seconds, when Michael Pelech was sent into the back of the net, and the two teams played 4-on-4 for the final 25 seconds of the first.

A couple of minutes into the second, Zach Saar laid a huge hit at center ice and then tangled with Justin Hamonic, both getting double minors for roughing. Some absolutely wild hockey was the result, but the Railers got got the best of the exchange, amassing six shots to the Grizzlies’ two in the first five minutes.

Utah drew a power play as Kellen Jones went off for tripping at 9:30, but though it had its moments, the Grizzlies were unable to put a goal past Mitch Gillam.

Thanks to a couple of nice saves, a post, and a few big blocks, Utah fought off a Worcester power play. Moreover, they showed a little more hustle as the second period drew to a close, getting a chance from Peter Sivak, and a pair from Watson. Nevertheless, they went into the room with

The Railers struck again 3:24 into the third, going up 3-0.

At 10:12, Saar scored his first pro goal, making it 3-1, but the Grizzlies were never able to get anything going, and Barry Almeida scored an empty netter with 1:35 to go.

As games go, it wasn’t a great one, and after scoring three or more goals in the three proceeding games, it was a disappointment to see that dry up without Hanson.

Though Harms and Graaskamp struggled on the defensive side of things (a long with most of the rest of the team), they also showed a couple of flashes of offensive chemistry that will hopefully stand the Grizzlies in good stead going forward.

With six rookies on the team, including Redmond, and several of them playing big minutes, or on lines designed to be offensive threats,  Utah needs to be able to rely on them. Unfortunately, Saturday night was not one of the finer moments for the rookies on the squad.

“The first two goals against, that young line was -2” Branham pointed out, “Playing against two different lines. They got outworked. Those young guys that have potential gotta learn from that. They got scored on on a couple veteran lines that Worcester has. The one thing our young guys have in their favor is fresh legs, young legs, and they gotta to use them to their advantage, and tonight they didn’t, early on they didn’t.”

However, he hastened to add, “With the exception of this game I’ve thought they’ve played extremely well, that’s for sure. So there’s definitely some bright light there at the end of the tunnel. Hockey is not a perfect game, you’re bound to make mistakes, that’s for sure. We just got to bounce back. Those guys, they’ve got the ability, so it’s good to see them step up.”

The Grizzlies are going to need everyone to step up as they head out on a four game road trip against Allen (11/1), Tulsa (11/3, 11/4) and Wichita (11/5) before returning home to face Fort Wayne on Veterans Day.


Photos courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming & staff

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