Utah Grizzlies: A Couple of Firsts

In their second game against Tulsa, and the second of three games in as many days, the Grizzlies iced the same lineup, with the exception of Angus Redmond, who got the start.

Zach Saar, Brad Navin, Erik Higby, Taylor Richart and Chris Leibinger had a great first shift, Leibinger getting two shots right off the bat, but it would be the Oilers who struck first. Captain Adam Pleskach made it 1-0 at 1:03 off a play in transition.

The two teams exchanged penalties with no change in score, and then Eric Drapluk beat Redmond glove-side. Tulsa scored again two minutes later to get the 3-0 lead.

Michael Pelech and Mike McKee dropped the gloves with 2:34 to go but as it was far more a wrestling match than a fight, both only got two for roughing. Redmond was called upon to make a strong save on the breakaway during the ensuing 4-on-4.

After 20, shots were 17-9 for Tulsa.

The Grizzlies began the second with several very strong shifts, (and slightly re-shuffled lines) and then Higby drew a power play. Utah maintained possession for almost the entity of the man-advantage, getting several great chances, and mere seconds after Tulsa returned to full strength, Brendan Harms scored his first pro goal. Ryan Walters and Cliff Watson drew the assists, Walters getting his fourth assist in three games.

Jake Hildebrand robbed Ryan Misiak as Utah continued to play well through the middle of the second frame.

McKee dropped the gloves for real at 14:23, this time with James Melindy, and at 16:12, Harms again off a shot from Mitch Jones. Walters got yet another assist on Harms’ second of the game.

The second period ended on a mad scramble, as Redmond lost his stick, the puck ended up behind him, and chaos ensued. Somehow in the insanity, the puck never crossed the line, and the Grizzlies went into the locker room down one goal. Utah out-shot Tulsa 19-13 in the second.

Unfortunately, Dmitrii Sergeev scored on a wrap-around just a few minutes into the third, putting the Oilers up 4-2. However, the Grizzlies didn’t stop working hard, drawing two penalties in the first half of the period. Though they didn’t score on the first power play, Ryan Olsen scored his second of the season assisted by Watson and Walters at 9:54 on the second man advantage.

A little over two minutes later, Misiak got his first of the year from Pelech and Thomas to tie the game.

Despite Utah’s best efforts, and 42 shots, they were unable to beat Hildebrand, and Conner Bleackley won the game 28 seconds into overtime.

The first period was pretty bad, but the rest of the game had a lot of good points. In addition to tightening up their defensive play, and showing far more hustle in the other periods as a team, Redmond settled down well.

Additionally, it was a great game for the Ryans. Misiak put up seven shots, in addition to scoring his first goal, Olsen scored his second, got four shots, and was a +2, while Walters got three assists, bringing up his total to six assists in three games, and was also a +2. Thomas and Pelech both continued to pick up points, Thomas now with 13 points in 11 games, and Pelech with 11 in 11.

While it certainly would have been ideal to pick up the second point against a divisional rival, after going down 3-0 it was certainly a far better outcome than it could have been. The Grizzlies go into Wichita having picked up five of a possible six points on the road.

The Thunder also played Saturday night in Allen so both Wichita and Utah are traveling tonight ahead of their 3 PM game on Sunday.



Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming & staff

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