Utah hit the road for the first time this regular season, facing off against familiar foes in the Idaho Steelheads. There were a few changes to the roster, as Gage Ausmus did not dress, and Joey Raats drew in for the first time this year, as did Josh Anderson.
The Grizzlies elected to go with nine forwards, with Raats lining up as the tenth forward or extra defenseman when necessary.
Utah got off to a quick start following the face-off, and kept the pedal down through the first five minutes, getting nine of the first ten shots, and Idaho not getting their first shot till pretty much the six minute mark.
The hard work paid off, and couldn’t have happened to a better guy as Brendan Harms picked up his first of the year from Matt Berry to put the Grizz up 1-0 at 7:44.
Spencer Naas beat out Joe Cannata a few minutes later as the puck popped up into the air, and Naas batted it into the net before Utah’s defense was able to locate it.
Utah’s lethal power play struck about thirty seconds into a too many men minor, Josh Winquist scoring his third goal in three games from Cole Ully.
Ully took a penalty at 14:47, but Connor Chatham took a blatant holding call about thirty seconds in, though it ultimately came to nothing. At the end of the first shots were 17-6 for Utah, who maintained their 2-1 lead.
The Grizzlies came flying out of the gate, drawing a holding call 18 seconds in, but the power play struggled, allowing two really good looks. Cannata was sharp though, and remained so through the first half of the period when Idaho got three of the period’s four shots.
Turner Ottenbreit and Eric Sweetman got into it at 11:18, Ottenbreit more or less tackling Sweetman to the ice, and no sooner had play recommenced than Utah got a power play. Ully once again made a terrific play, setting up Ryan Walters for his second of the year at 12:12. Teigan Zahn took a penalty on the shift after that, but Utah killed it off, Walters looking threatening two-on-one.
The two teams battled hard through the remainder of the period, but other than a huge Cannata save on a Chatham breakaway, and a drawn power play by Austin Carroll, the period came to an end without much ado.
The Grizzlies opened with 45 seconds of power play time, but the wheels fell off the bus, and Idaho drew within one short-handed after a lackadaisical defensive effort, then gave up another to tie it up less than two minutes in.
After the disastrous opening 1:16, Utah settled down, and Ully made it 4-1 with assists from Caleb Herbert and Winquist.
The game, now practically even in shots and goals, saw neither team able to sustain offensive zone time.
With four to go, Walters took an unfortunate delay of game penalty, and six seconds later, the Steelheads made it 4-4.
It looked like had Utah scored themselves out of trouble once again as Herbert added a goal to his two assists. However, with 1:35 to go, Idaho pulled Ryan Faragher, and Brad McClure scored with 43 seconds to go. The Grizzlies protested mightily, feeling that Chatham had interfered with Cannata, but though the refs gathered to discuss it, the goal stood.
Winquist, Carroll, and Taylor Richart began OT for Utah, and and ended it as well, as Carroll lost the puck to Joe Pendenza for the game winning goal.
Cole Ully has been terrific in all three games so far, but he was especially noticeable all game, picking up a goal and two big assists.
The power play just keeps clicking with two goals, with Herbert (4G, 4A), Winquist (3G, 3A), and Ully (1G, 4A) leading the way. Walters, also on the first power play unit, has two goals and three assists in the first three games as well. Utah’s potent offense was almost enough to score themselves out of trouble.
Utah was absolutely dominant in the first period, and has now picked up five of a possible six standings points in the first three games.
After the first, Idaho took over, out-shooting Utah 24-9 in the last two periods. The Grizzlies were nearly able to hold on, but some sloppy defensive play ended up costing them.
Without doubt, the 1:16 to start the third was appalling.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.