Utah Grizzlies: For Want of a Goal…

After Friday’s travesty of a third period, there was a shake up in the lineup once more. Brad Navin, C.J. Eick, and Mitch Jones all drew in for Ryan Olsen, Zach Saar, and Garrett Haar. Kevin Carr got the start as the Grizzlies looked for redemption.

The first seven minutes were all Utah, as the Grizzlies shot the puck from everywhere, Chris Leibinger, and Greger Hanson having especially memorable blasts from the point, and Utah put up eight of the first ten shots.

The Grizzlies’ pressure paid off, and they drew the first man advantage of the game at 8:39. It was one of Utah’s better showings on the power play, as they got all kinds of chances, making the defenders move, and creating traffic in front of the net. Unfortunately, Charles Williams was sharp, and Manchester returned to full strength.

Manchester got rolling after the power play, but not unobstructed, as Utah kept working hard. The Monarchs got a couple of good shifts in the Grizzlies’ zone, but the weren’t able to accomplish much by way of shots, and were largely kept around the perimeter.

At the end of twenty, shots were 15-6 for the Grizzlies, Richart leading with three.

Leibinger got his first of the season on a rebound, making it 1-0 20 seconds into the second. The assists went to Windle and Misiak. It was great to see Leibinger score, as he’d looked dangerous throughout the first period.

Pelech took two penalties one right after the other at 1:33 and 3:43, but the Grizzlies’ kill, generally pretty good, was especially excellent.

Misiak drew a power play for Utah at 5:51, but the puck jumped over Watson’s stick on the point, and Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman beat Carr short-handed.

The power play came to an end, Utah pressured, but Manchester went the other way, and scored again, this time from Matt Schmalz at 8:18.

Utah kept working hard, and got some good shifts in following the goal, and they drew another power play in the offensive zone at 13:01. Harms was crosschecked in the offensive zone, but there was no call, and Manchester went the other way.

The play went back and forth, but Utah got a majority of the zone time in the final minutes of the period, getting great shifts from Hanson, Pelech, Harms, Navin, and the indomitable engine that is C.J. Eick. After 40, shots were 27-19, though Manchester led 2-1.

Manchester kept the puck in the offensive zone in the first five minutes of the third, but the Grizzlies did a great job of stealing pucks, and keeping a lot of the more dangerous chances away from Carr. What did get through, Carr smothered with calm authority.

Leibinger took a tripping call at 5:27, but the penalty kill once again had a pair of shifts in which Manchester was forced to chase them around their own end, and got a couple of really good saves from Carr.

The Pelech line had a good shift about half-way through the period, Hanson, Harms, Leibinger, and Windle especially looking good. They followed that up with another fast shift from the Navin line.

Hanson had a beautiful shift, but the puck ended up on Joel Lowry’s stick, and neither Watson nor Windle were able to take the shot away.  So the Grizzlies found themselves down 3-1 with just over seven left.

Richart was hit hard up high with about five minutes to go in the period, but he appeared to shake it off, remaining in the game.

Zac Lynch deked out Jones and Melindy at 15:26, and though Carr got the initial save, the puck squeaked through for the 4-1 goal.

Utah got a late power play with 46 seconds left in the game, and they pulled Carr for the extra skater. It was not to be, however, and Utah fell 4-1, despite putting up 37 shots.

Unlike Friday’s game, where the goals in the third period were the the result of a complete lack of any kind of effort from the Grizzlies, Saturday saw good effort for a full 60. However, while the work ethic was there, the execution wasn’t always, and Manchester capitalized on all the little breakdowns. It didn’t help either that there has been very little Utah goal-scoring.

“It’s been the same script for, I dunno, six-seven games now.” Tim Branham said. “Not getting the goal scoring when you need it, and I mean, when you put up forty shots, you expect to get a different result. In the three games here, our forwards had two goals, so that just tells you right there what the story is. Back to the drawing board here, either we learn to score goals, or bring people in that can score goals, we’ll figure that out here next week.”

While mistakes ultimately cost the Grizzlies on Saturday, Branham was far more concerned with the bigger issue.

“On the turnovers, the offensive blue-line turnovers, we gotta limit those. But to be honest, I thought we played a really good game, I thought we out played them. I mean, there were spurts there in the third period where they kind of took it to us a bit, but you could say we took it to them for the majority of the game, we just didn’t score any goals, and you win by scoring goals.”

“Even Wednesday, we lost in the shoot-out. It was 1-1” he added. “We scored one goal again tonight. You’re not going to win a lot of games when you’re scoring one goal a game.”

“But again,” he reiterated later, “I thought as a group, we played really well. We’ve got a lot of role guys that are playing with a lot of energy, playing the right way, being aggressive. We’re not getting those hard working goals, as many as we should be, so we’ve gotta find ways to score goals, or bring people in.”

After hitting his stride with Ryan Olsen and Ryan Misiak, Brendan Harms has continued to play really well on every line he’s joined. He hasn’t produced much in the last few games, but he’s regularly one of the hardest working guys on the ice. He and Eick are undoubtedly among the role guys mentioned by Branham.

A couple of mistakes aside, the Grizzlies defence once again stepped up in a pretty big way on Saturday night, as Leibinger put in another strong performance, and got the team’s only goal.

“Our defence are great. They’re shouldering the offensive load right now, and he’s another one of those guys.” Branham said of the blue-line. “It was a great pass by Windle to him on the back door. Again, that’s a D-man to a D-man. I mean, our system, we have a system in place where our D-men are very active in the O-zone, which is probably one of the reasons why our D are scoring so much. I think our D have done an amazing job. They’ve played really well. I know one of our guys got walked there on the fourth goal, or third goal, but on a whole, I think our D are doing really well.”

While Leibinger would have preferred to get his first Grizzlies goal in a win, he added, “It is good to get the monkey off your back. I’ve played a few games, and I’ve been close, but to finally see one go in was nice.”

Hopefully a few other players will join him on the stat sheet as the Grizzlies head out to Colorado and Idaho in the next few weeks.


Image courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff

Utah Grizzlies: Unacceptable

After a string of overtime and shootout losses, a minor line shake-up, and the return of James Melindy, the whole line-up got shifted around. Out were Brad Navin, C.J. Eick, and Mitch Jones, and in were Charley Graaskamp, Travis Howe, and Melindy. Brendan Harms played with Michael Pelech and Greger Hanson, Graaskamp lined up with Ryan Walters and Ryan Olsen, while Erik Higby centered Howe/Zach Saar and Ryan Misiak. Angus Redmond got the start.

Saying the game did not begin well would be an understatement, as Manchester scored on their second shift. Utah didn’t even have a chance to get any offensive zone time. However, the Grizzlies answered with a couple of really good shifts, the Olsen line making the first foray into the offensive zone. Higby, Howe, and Misiak had a great chance, but Manchester went the other way, and made it 2-0 at 5:15.

Once again, there was a good deal of door slamming on the bench, but the Grizzlies continued to work hard and get chances–most notably from Hanson/Pelech and from Misiak.

At 13:32 Martin Nemcik and Zach Saar dropped the gloves in front of the Manchester net, and both were sent off for five minutes. Shortly thereafter, Hanson passed the puck to Sam Windle on the point, and Watson jumping on the rebound cut the lead in half.

Utah continued to get shots, rebounds, and chances, the defensemen especially shooting everything.

All the hard work eventually paid off, and Taylor Richart drew a power play in the offensive zone with 1:15 left in the period. Harms was tripped up, and the play briefly went the other way. In the end, it didn’t matter. With 31 seconds left in the frame, Watson scored again on a snipe from the bottom of the face-off circle. Pelech got the primary assist on a perfect pass from behind the net, and the game was all tied up.

The Olsen line closed out the period strong, and after twenty, Utah had put up a season high 20 shots, and allowed only 12. It wasn’t the greatest first period, but it seemed unfair to quibble after they scored twice.

Manchester started the second strong yet again, but Redmond and the Grizzlies were able to keep them off the scoreboard early.

Howe was given all sorts of space, and set up a perfect shot for Olsen standing in the blue paint, but Evan Cowley turned it aside. The third line had a good hustling shift, and on the other end of the ice, Redmond made a couple more saves. They did spend a rather uncomfortably large amount of time in the defensive zone, over all though.

Olsen took a high-sticking penalty with 10:45 after failing to clear the zone, and Manchester capitalized.

Misiak came flying in on a breakaway on the next shift, Cowley gave up a rebound, and Nemcik, trying to coral the puck, put it through his five hole. Higby was originally credited with the goal, but it eventually went to Misiak, from Melindy and Redmond.

Harms nearly gave the Grizzlies the lead mere seconds later, but his attempt hit the post, and Cowley dove over to get the glove on it. Harms got in on a two-on-one, and Walters also had a great shift, as that line came out with a will.

Hanson took an offensive zone high-sticking call with under 30 seconds left in the second, and the team went in to the last intermission tied 3-3, shots 25-21 for Manchester.

The third period began even worse than the first, and in looking for the best way to describe it as a whole, the term unmitigated disaster comes to mind.

The Monarchs scored just 26 seconds into the frame. At first, this didn’t seem like that much of a problem, because if nothing else, the Grizzlies have shown in the past couple of weeks (and in this game) that they can dig deep and battle back. The Olsen and Pelech lines responded well with offensive zone shifts after the goal, and getting a couple of shots.

Watson drew a power play at 2:38. Richart had a great shot that Cowley snagged, and the first line had a good shift as well. Watson also made a bid for a hat trick with a great shot. Unfortunately, there were no white jerseys to snag the rebound, and Manchester returned to full strength.

Melindy took a hooking call at 5:14, but Utah got out of it just fine. Redmond made a good save, Walters and Hanson got in on a short-handed two-on-one, Redmond made another couple of big saves, and it was over.

A few shifts later, though, the Grizzlies did have trouble clearing the puck, and after a few rebounds, no one covered Michael Doherty, who made it 5-3. There was still no panic, but at this point, it also became increasingly clear that while there were still a few players hustling, there was going to be no second comeback.

Utah drew another power play at 13:29, but it was largely harmless, despite a good play from Richart. The Monarchs got in alone, and while a furious back-check from Leibinger prevented a shot, it sent Utah to the penalty kill.

Manchester scored their third power play goal of the night as yet another rebound wasn’t cleared from the crease at 17:37. Although there were a couple of good push-back shifts from the Grizzlies, more or less the entire team, goalie included, got outworked all over the ice. Zac Lynch made it 7-3 at 19:24. To add insult to injury, the Monarchs scored with five seconds left.

Howe collared Matt Schmalz on the final face-off, and a disastrous third period came to a merciful end.

Redmond’s play wasn’t great at times, especially early in the first and through the third, but in his defence by the end of the third period, he wasn’t getting a lot of help.

After being one of the four or five best players on the team for a couple weeks running, Olsen had what was probably his worst period in a Grizzlies uniform, between several ill-advised passes, and the penalty that led to a Manchester goal in the second. However, he was by no means the only player who had an off night. The third period was awful pretty much straight across the board.

“Obviously we didn’t get off to a good start, for whatever reason.” Branham said after the game. “We battled back, traded a goal in the second, and then we just got outworked in the third period. They wanted it more than us, and that’s all it comes down to. When you get beat one-on-one, when you get beat driving to the net, when the other team goes to the net and you don’t make them pay a price, it’s just too easy for them. Left their goalie high and dry, and it’s just unacceptable. When all you have to do is win that period and win that game, to come out with that kind of effort, and the penalties, is just unacceptable.”

Watson was the second star of the game with two goals, and a team-leading eight shots.

Utah looks to hold off the sweep tonight in their last game of a seven game home stand, where they have five points in six games, but only one win.



Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff


Utah Grizzlies: Another Point, Another Loss

On the night before Thanksgiving, the lineup got a bit of a shakeup ahead of the game between the ECHL affiliates of the Ducks and the Kings.

In terms of personnel, Erik Higby drew in for Travis Howe, and Kevin Carr, sporting his new Grizz coloured gear, once again got the start. In terms of lineup, Ryan Olsen started the game on the wing with Greger Hanson, and Michael Pelech, Higby centered Brendan Harms and Ryan Misiak, while Zach Saar lined up with Brad Navin and C.J. Eick, and Ryan Walters took shifts on a number of different lines.

Olsen and Hanson led the charge shortly off the face-off, and Olsen drew a power play 35 seconds into the game. Utah did eventually get set up, but got no shots on the advantage. Misiak took a tripping call to head off an uncontested breakaway at 3:04 but the Monarchs were also unable to capitalize, thanks to a couple great saves from Carr.

Carr continued to be essential to keeping the game scoreless, as Manchester out-shot Utah 4-2 through the middle of the frame.

Towards the final five minutes in the first, Pelech got what looked like an absolute gimmie into an empty net, but somehow Charles Williams snagged the puck, leaving Pelech incredulous.

On the very next shift, Manchester came back and scored at 15:14, and the Monarchs won the possession game in the final five minutes of the period. At the end of 20, Utah led in shots 13-8, but trailed 1-0 where it counted.

The Grizzlies came out more aggressively in the second, throwing their weight around, and skating hard.

Pelech made a great pass to Olsen about four minutes in, but once again Williams was there to make the save. Carr continued to match Williams, save for save in his own end.

Hanson carried on his power play drawing ways, and Utah went to the advantage at 5:40. Navin was boarded on the power play, and the Grizzlies had a very brief five-on-three, and then another power play. Walters made a great defensive play on his own end, and the Higby, Harms, Misiak line got a good look, but Utah couldn’t capitalize.

The Monarchs had a lengthy stretch in the offensive zone, thereafter, leading to a Grizzlies penalty. The penalty kill was sharp though, and kept Manchester chasing the puck back down the ice. Walters even got a short-handed chance.

Colton Saucerman went into Carr at 13:32, so the teams played four-on-four for six seconds, and then Utah went to the power play. The first shifts of the advantage went well, and then the Grizzlies had to chase the puck around. Just when it looked like yet another power play would die with no change in score, Higby got his first of the year on a Harms rebound. Misiak got the secondary assist on the tying goal.

The shifts that followed the goal saw the Grizzlies flying around the Monarchs’ zone, but Misiak went to the box with less than four minutes left in the period. Harms clanged the post on a short-handed two-on-one, and the Grizzlies killed the rest of the penalty off.

Pelech got a high-sticking penalty shortly after the return to full strength, and the penalty killers went to work. Olsen and Higby started the kill well, and Utah got three clears in less than a minute, ending the period tied 1-1.

The Grizzlies had 1:08 of penalty kill time to start the third, and benefited from the Monarchs’ inability to capitalize on what looked like a couple of sure goals. Fortunately for Utah, these occurrences ended up being something of a recurring theme.

Jones was boarded at 1:41, and the first unit power play of Walters, Hanson, and Olsen created some nice chances, before Manchester flew into the Utah end. Higby got another look short side, but despite some good zone time, they spent much of the power play on the perimeter.

As the game progressed, the lines started to see some blending. Olsen was shifted back to the middle of the ice with Harms and Misiak, Walters taking his spot with Hanson and Pelech.

Manchester got one of those dangerous chances on the face-off after a time out with just about ten minutes left in the period, but the Grizzlies were better prepared than they have been in similar situations. Hanson made a heads up play to create a turnover, and Walters just barely missed the net on Pelech’s pass.

Haar had a good shot block, and Pelech had an even better play, being the only player who didn’t lose sight of the puck as it deflected high into the air in front of the net.

The Grizzlies dodged a major bullet when the Monarchs got in four-on-one but flubbed the pass with just over five minutes to go. Harms and Watson had a terrific shift, as Utah answered with a strong offensive zone push of their own.

The end of the period saw the Grizzlies tied once again, and once again headed to overtime.

Carr was phenomenal in OT as Manchester dominated the extra minutes. He made a huge save about one minute in, and then thirty seconds later, Manchester clanged the post. The Monarchs got a two-on-none, but Carr turned that aside as well, and then got help from another post. Watson took the puck away, and the next shift, Carr made another save as a Manchester player went into the net behind him.

The Monarchs got another two-on-none when a Grizzlies’ player blew a tire at the blue line, but once again Carr was there to take away the chance. Olsen pushed the puck just wide on a spin-o-rama in front of the net and the Grizzlies pressed furiously in the dying seconds, but the game went to a shoot out for the first time this season.

Carr was sharp in the shoot out, but Williams was sharper, and Utah fell 2-1.

Carr’s spectacular 25 save game earned him second star of the night, and the Grizzlies picked up yet another standings point in the loss.

“I thought Kevin Carr was phenomenal.” Tim Branham said of Carr’s outing. “He was just tremendous. Has been all year, and we’re lucky we have him. I thought Erik Higby was excellent today,” he added, “I thought our D-core played really well, and I thought C.J. Eick had a really good game.”

Navin was also very involved, as were Olsen and Harms. The team effort was there, once again, but the execution just wasn’t quite up to par.

Utah now have points in eleven of their last thirteen games and after their abysmal 0-4 start, they are 6-2-4-1. It would, however, be nice to come out on the winning side of these OT games.

What do the Grizzlies have to do to come away with the win in the next games against Manchester? Unsurprisingly, Branham says it all boils down to getting goals.

“We got a lot of scoring chances that we didn’t capitalize on. Guys gotta start putting the puck in the net, it’s a simple as that. I thought we were not very good structurally, I thought this was one of our worst games, structurally, that we’ve played this year, and we still hung around the game and had chances to win it, and didn’t put the puck in. That’s a good thing going forward, we’ve just got to focus a little more, and make sure that we bear down on our scoring chances.”

The three-game series against the Monarchs continues Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.



Picture courtesy of Tim Broussard and Jess Fleming






Utah Grizzlies: Ducks Fly Together, But Fall Just Short

Ahead of game two on Saturday night against Colorado, the only lineup changes saw Charlie Graaskamp sit for Zach Saar, and Kevin Carr get the start. Utah wore beautiful Ducks themed jerseys which were auctioned off after the game with proceedings going to Angel’s Hands.

Like any good Mighty Ducks movie, the Grizzlies started well, and then ran into adversity. Unfortunately, unlike a good Mighty Ducks movie, the Grizzlies were unable ultimately get the win.

Brendan Harms got a shot seconds off the opening face off, and just 25 seconds into the game, Utah drew the first power play. But while the Grizzlies put up four shots, they were unable to capitalize, and gave up a close call coming the other way.

The Grizzlies pressed well through the first half of the period, getting all five of the first five shots, and playing with urgency.

Unfortunately, despite the shot advantage, J.C. Beaudin struck first at 10:01 in transition, and Saar took a tripping call. Harms sprang Ryan Olsen on a short-handed breakaway, but Joe Cannata turned the shot aside, and Beaudin scored again going the other way to make it 2-0 on the man advantage. Utah spent much of the second half of the period chasing the puck, and when they had possession of it, Colorado did a good job of keeping damage to a bare minimum.

The Grizzlies needed something to wake them up, and Saar obliged, dropping the gloves with Ben Storm at 17:01. The combatants were sent off the their respective locker rooms to cool their heels.

A couple of shifts later, Travis Howe finally got the fight he’d been chasing for over a year, and with 1:02 left in the first, he and Teigan Zahn dropped the gloves. Howe saluted the crowd, and Utah ended the period in the offensive zone.

After 20, shots favored Utah 10-7, but where it counted, Colorado led 2-0. As Tyson Whiting said on the air, it wasn’t a bad first period, but it certainly wasn’t a good one either. They played hard, but the execution didn’t quite match.

Utah opened the second well, as they opened the first, getting multiple shifts in the offensive zone. Greger Hanson got one of what ended up being his six second period shots, and Gabriel Verpaelst put the puck over the glass at 1:58 giving Utah a power play.

Hanson and Olsen got some of the better shots on the advantage, but once more, despite some good moments, the Grizzlies came up empty.

Colorado scored once again on the power play at 9:44, making it 3-0. However, Richart came up clutch yet again, and broke the shut-out a few minutes later, with assists from Ryan Misiak and Ryan Olsen.

Zach Saar got in on the goal scoring a little under two minutes later, getting his third of the year with a hard working assist from Brad Navin and the secondary from Cliff Watson.

Hanson got taken down at 13:21 and was very slow to get up, but he drew another power play, which the Eagles killed off.

Colorado got a very lengthy stretch in the Utah with about three minutes to go, but Brendan and the Ryans shifted the play to the offensive zone with about a minute left, and the Grizzlies finished the frame strong.

Mitch Jones tied the game 1:25 into the third off a gorgeous cross-ice pass from Hanson, giving Utah their third three goal comeback in two weeks.

After the tying goal, the Eagles held possession in the Grizzlies zone again for some time. There was a swap of Ryans part way through the third, as Ryan Walters and Ryan Misiak switched spots on the Olsen line.

Michael Pelech took the period’s only penalty, but though the Eagles pressured hard, Carr and the penalty killers kept the score 3-3, and Hanson nearly scored short-handed on a beautiful spring from Olsen.

Olsen laid a huge hit behind the Eagles’ net with about five minutes left, and Walters and Sam Windle followed it up with a couple of quick shots on net.

As has been the case quite often, lately, the two teams were unable to get the win in regulation, and it went to OT again.

After a sloppy change cost the Grizzlies the game on Friday, they were extra careful in OT. Walters got in alone on the first shift, but Cannata turned it aside. Misiak and Hanson had a two-on-one, but Misiak went hard into the boards, and went straight to the locker room. Colorado got chances of their own going the other way as well, but Carr too was up to the task.

Michael Joly squeaked past Olsen and Richart, Carr charged out of the net to challenge the one-on-none and made the initial save, but somehow the puck went through him, and Joly scored to take the game 2:36 into OT.

Zach Saar was the third star of the game, with a goal, a fight, and four shots. He also had a nice two-on-one with Navin in the second that was just part and parcel of a strong game overall. Greger Hanson picked up eleven shots, and an assist, giving him seven points in seven consecutive games for Utah. Travis Howe continues to have a good season. He may not have scored, and may continue to not score, but he continues to show that, with his hockey sense and play-making ability, he is more than just a tough guy.

All three lines got in on the scoring on Saturday, the first line getting the assists on Jones’ goal, the second line getting the assists on the Richart goal, and Saar getting the goal for the third line. Kevin Carr, as usual, also had a good game.

Utah now has points in ten of their last twelve games, and welcome the Manchester Monarchs to town for three games around Thanksgiving.


Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff

Utah Grizzlies: Branham’s 12

In the second weekend series of a lengthy November home stand, Greger Hanson returned from San Diego for Friday night’s game against Colorado. As a result, the Grizzlies shuffled the lines a little, keeping Brendan and the Ryans together, but with Hanson taking Charley Graaskamp’s spot on Michael Pelech and Ryan Walters’ other wing. Erik Higby and Zach Saar were the scratches, while Jon Puskar and Rob Mann remained on reserve. Cliff Watson and Taylor Richart wore the As, and Angus Redmond got the start.

Utah played well early, picking up six shots to Colorado’s three, all the later of which were stopped in authoritative fashion by Redmond. Brendan and the Ryans, and C.J. Eick had some especially good shifts early on.

There were not many whistles, but one of the first signaled a Utah power play, drawn by Hanson at 8:30. Mere moments later, Teigan Zahn laid a huge hit on Ryan Olsen, which drew another Utah power play, giving them 1:38 on the five-on-three.

The Grizzlies were able to get set up, but were unable to capitalize, and Michael Pelech went to the box after a net-front scuffle. All the penalties were killed off, and the score remained 0-0, thanks to some really positionally solid saves from Redmond.

The two teams traded chances through the remainder of the period, but Hanson drew yet another power play, as Gabriel Verpaelst took a interference call with 3:43 to go.

Though the Grizzlies didn’t capitalize on the power play, Hanson scored the game’s first goal, unassisted at 19:14 off a turn-over.

Things got crazy after the buzzer, as Ben Storm laid a huge hit on Chris Leibinger. Mitch Jones jumped in in defence, and then Leibinger and Verpaelst dropped the gloves and had a lengthy bout. Verpaelst got the best of it, and when the dust settled, the two had gotten five for fighting, and Travis Howe got a ten minute misconduct.

It was an excellent first period from more or less the entire roster, as each line had multiple stand-out moments in the period. Utah led in shots, 15-8, as well as on the score board, thanks to Hanson’s goal. While the first two lines continued to be solid as usual, Eick and Navin played one of their best periods of the season.

The second period saw a couple of good shifts for Colorado in a row, Redmond very much held Utah in it as they struggled defensively. A speedy Eick got the Grizzlies’ first shot of the second about two minutes in, and it began a shift in momentum.

The Grizzlies began to absolutely fly around shortly thereafter, as first Hanson got in ahead of the Eagles, but had the puck stolen at the last moment. Then Graaskamp, Eick, and Navin charged in three-on-two, and just missed an opportunity there as well.

Unfortunately Joey Ratelle made it 1-1 at 6:09, yet again, just off a face-off on a great shot from the point. Navin took a holding penalty shortly thereafter which Utah killed off.

Olsen rang the crossbar on a nice up-ice shift from Brendan and the Ryans, but Colorado went the other way and took the 2-1 lead.

The Grizzlies responded with a couple of strong shifts from the Navin and Pelech lines.

Utah drew a power play at 14:28, and Hanson scored his second on the power play to tie the game with 4:14 left in the period.

After 40, shots were 26-23 for Utah, and the game was, once again, tied.

The Grizzlies and the Eagles traded chances through the first half of the third, but both teams played some pretty sloppy hockey throughout the period.

Utah pulled it together a bit towards the middle of the frame, and the Pelech, Hanson, Walters line got a couple of good shifts. As a result of their work, the line drew a power play at 11:19. Although they didn’t score, Hanson got a couple more looks.

The back half of the third was much the same as the first half, both teams having chances, but regulation time wasn’t enough to break the deadlock.

As they had in regulation, both teams exchanged opportunities, but Verpaelst got the win two-on-one. Utah took one point with the 3-2 OT loss, shots 34-32.

“That’s extremely frustrating for me.” Tim Branham said of yet another goal off the face-off. “I felt that we played one period of hockey, and had we outworked that team you could completely dominate them.”

“When you get scored on off face-offs, you’re just not ready.” He added. “The overtime goal? Just not ready to go. I thought Redmond was pretty good, I thought he made some good saves, I thought their goalie made some good saves. We need to make sure that we can sustain our work ethic for a full 60 minutes plus, ’cause we only played one period tonight.”

With three penalties drawn, two goals, and three shots, Greger Hanson was the game’s first star, like Ryan Walters, scoring two in his return from the AHL.

While Utah struggled at times throughout the second and third, there were still some bright spots.

Brad Navin, C.J. Eick, and Travis Howe all had good shifts, playing well on both sides of the puck. Navin and Howe both set up nice scoring chances, and Eick’s speed, as always, helped shift momentum several times during the game.

Angus Redmond had possibly one of his best games in the Grizzlies uniform, holding the team in it at several points throughout the game, and making some solid saves.

The Grizzlies and the Eagles will face off again tonight (Saturday) at the Mav. The Grizzlies will be wearing their Mighty Ducks/Angel’s Hands jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game, and it’s also Pooch on the Pond night!



Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard & Jess Fleming