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

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