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