Friday night’s game was, in a word, disjointed.
Ryan Misiak was placed on reserve as the Grizzlies, Jake Marchment made his Grizzlies debut after returning to the team from San Diego, and Joe Cannata got the start against the Indy Fuel.
Teigan Zahn and Anthony Collins dropped the gloves just four minutes in, then the Fuel took a penalty less than a minute later. Utah was unable to make anything of it before Matt Berry took a slashing call, and sent the teams to some four-on-four time.
Indy prevented the Grizzlies from getting any kind of flow going, laying down hits any time a Utah player got any kind of speed going, and just generally looking like the more efficient team. It paid off for them at 14:07 when Robert Powers opened the scoring.
Austin Carroll did answer in the dying seconds of the first with his first of the year from Cole Ully and Nolan De Jong, but that was the only goal the Grizzlies would muster.
The second period did not begin well, the Fuel making it 2-1 just 42 seconds in. Utah got a power play chance about a minute later, but it almost ended in disaster as both Ully and Caleb Herbert got hit, leading to a three-on-one short-handed. Fortunately, Cannata turned that aside.
Things didn’t get better after that either, as Berry was given Utah’s first face-off violation penalty of the season at 3:30.
The Grizzlies took another questionable penalty at 5:36, and though initially they did a good job killing it off, Herbert even getting a couple of beautiful chances short-handed, a weird bounce made it 3-1.
The third didn’t see a lot of action in the early stages, and though Indy’s Connor Moynihan took a high-sticking call shortly past the half-way mark, Utah couldn’t capitalize.
Branham pulled Cannata with well over two minutes to go, and things looked promising when Herbert drew a penalty, but there would be no comeback. Matt Rupert scored his second of the game into the empty net, and the Grizzlies suffered their first loss of the season.
It was an uncharacteristic game from top to bottom, and while we did see flashes of the performances we’ve come to expect, it was easily the team’s worst outing of the season.
There was a bit of a switch up in the roster for Saturday’s game, with Misiak drawing back in, and Brendan Harms taking a seat while Kevin Carr got the start against the Kansas City Mavericks.
Herbert got right back to his scoring ways, making it 1-0 at 3:49 from Kevin Davis and Travis Barron. Ully drew a penalty on the very next shift, but though Taylor Richart got a couple of big shots off, the Mavs killed it off.
Misiak took a holding call at 8:21, but Utah killed it off thanks to a couple of quick saves from Carr. The remainder of the period was fairly uneventful until C.J. Eick’s speed scooted him in past the Utah defensemen, and he tied it up with 1:15 to go.
The Mavericks sped up after that, but the period came to an end with the 1-1 tie, Kansas City out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-7.
The opening moments of the second were a little sloppy from Utah, with the result that Kansas City got the first three shots, and Carr came up big several times.
The Grizzlies drew a power play, and after a little blip that saw the Mavericks in the offensive zone, Carroll extended his scoring streak to two games on assists from Herbert and Ully.
In an absolute scrum, the Mavericks made it 3-2, Teigan Zahn and Jordan Klimek dropped the gloves, before Kansas City scored again on a clean shot.
However, Richart picked the perfect moment to score his first of the year, tying it up once more at 8:17. Herbert picked up his third point of the game, while Berry got the second assist.
Utah got another look on the power play half-way through the period, but were unable to draw ahead on the advantage. Both teams got away with what probably should have been penalties before Berry was sent to the box for tripping with almost exactly two minutes left in the frame.
Ryan Walters took a high-sticking call with 30 seconds left, but the Berry penalty and the period came to an end together with no change in score, Mavs out-shooting Utah 25-18.
Utah began the third with 1:30 remaining on Walters’ penalty, which they killed off fairly comfortably.
Jake Marchment scored his first goal of the season at 3:51 to give Utah the 4-3 lead from Tim McGauley and Turner Ottenbreiti, but because that’s just the way the game went, the Mavericks tied it up again at 7:27. That’s how things remained for the rest of regulation, and because Herbert took a hooking call as time expired, the Grizzlies began OT on the kill.
Utah killed off the penalty in what was definitely their best OT showing so far, but it wasn’t enough, and Mark Cooper got the game winner.
It was a much better outing than the game against Indy, but though earning a point is certainly better than nothing, the Grizzlies inability to get it done in overtime is frustrating.
Herbert got the third star of the game with a goal and two assists, and Berry deserves an honorable mention with five shots and an assist. Carroll also continues to look good, all of which will hopefully continue and culminate in a win in Wichita.
Image courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff.