In the final game of the home-stand against Indy, the lineup remained the same, though the lines themselves saw a little bit of juggling. Once again, Joe Cannata got the start
Both teams got a few shots in the first minute, and Teigan Zahn and Austin Carroll weren’t afraid to get into it early.
Richart got taken down knee-on-knee, and visions of Josh Winquist’s injury must surely have flashed through people’s minds, but fortunately, Richart was able to skate off under his own power, and returned to the ice in the midst of the resulting five minute power play. Matt Rupert was given a game misconduct in addition to the major. In the midst of the power play, Carroll pounced on a puck that rolled through Jason Pawloski and put it in the net, but the official had already blown the whistle.
The lengthy man-advantage was unable to capitalize for real, with the Grizzlies’ point men having uncharacteristic difficulties keeping the puck in the zone.
Josh Anderson laid some big hits through the game and Cannata looked much more comfortable in his net than he had in Friday’s game.
It was a game of special teams after that. Richart took exception to the Fuel around the Utah net after the whistle, and Anderson jumped in too, leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. However, Indy followed that up by taking consecutive penalties, leading to brief stretches of four-on-four, then four-on-three before returning to a regular Grizzlies’ power play.
Nolan De Jong, who had a bit of a rough first period, took a hooking call in the final 1:18, and the period ended 0-0, shots 11-10 Indy. Fortunately, through the first twenty, Cannata looked very calm and comfortable, and at the first break the score remained 0-0.
The second period began with 42 seconds of the De Jong penalty, which Utah killed off comfortably. Matt Berry took a penalty 1:16 into the period, but Cannata continued to hold down the fort.
The penalty box parade continued, this time Radovan Bondra taking a slashing call. Utah definitely worked hard on the power play, causing Pawloski to scramble a little, but unable to put the puck past him.
Carroll was destined to get the first goal of the game after all, scoring despite being knocked down on the ice. Gage Ausmus and Brendan Harms got the assists, putting The Grizzlies up 1-0 7:37 into the second.
Utah threw the body around after that, but Harms got a boarding call at 11:55, sending the Grizzlies back to the kill. Indy had got a good cycle going, only to cough the puck up at the blue line to Caleb Herbert. The Indy defenseman struggled valiantly to keep up with Herbert, but to no avail, as the league’s leading scorer absolutely few in, and then electrified the crowd with his 13th of the year.
Indy took a slashing call at 14:40 and then Anderson and Olivier Labelle got matching minors at 18:49 and the period came to an end 2-0 Utah, shots 21-20 in their favor.
The Grizzlies looked like the better team on the very short four-on-four to start the third, but after that, both teams got their chances in.
Tim McGauley got hauled down on a breakaway at 8:20, and what should have been a penalty shot became a power play.
Unfortunately, Jake Marchment took a tripping call about half-way through, and negated the man-advantage.
Brendan Harms started a hard-working shift a few minutes past the half-way mark, which eventually led to Zahn scoring his first of the season unassisted to give the Grizzlies the 3-0 lead.
And they weren’t done. Just under a minute later, Matt Berry batted the puck past Pawloski to make it 4-0.
From then on out, Utah shut it down, and a game that began quietly most certainly did not end so as time ran out on Joe Cannata’s first shut out of the season.
“It felt nice.” said the game’s first star on his shut-out. “The last few weeks I’ve been fighting it a bit, I think as a team we played pretty solidly, and for me it makes it a lot easier, being square to pucks and seeing them, guys doing little things makes my job easier. It was nice to finish the week out like that.”
Tim Branham was a little bit more effusive on his goalie’s 30 save performance.
“He [Cannata] makes everything look easy, his rebound control is unbelievable, his playing the puck is unbelievable, he’s so calm and collected. He had a really good game yesterday, and he followed that up with an even better game. You can see why he helped Colorado to win a championship.”
“I thought we played a good game,” he continued. “Our effort, our intensity was there. Our execution, as far as offensively, wasn’t quite there, power play, that kind of thing. But that’s going to happen, our power play has been running over 30%, it’s bound to happen, have a bad day or a bad couple days, and it hurts to lose a player like Cole Ully. Hopefully he’s doing well up there tonight, and at the end of the day we have a character group, and we found a way to win.”
Ottenbreit appears to have hit his stride, having a very strong game for the second night in a row, and was a stand out on a solid blue line.
“He’s a young kid trying to find his way in pro hockey, he’s a tall kid, he’s got a long reach, skates really well for a big man, he’s tough, he’s physical, he can handle the puck, he’s just got everything, and he’s just finding his way. You’re gonna find this young D core just get better as the year goes on. Kevin Davis, what he’s doing right now is unbelievable. Josh Anderson, another young kid, when you’ve got guys, and we’re talking “veteran” players like De Jong, a second year guy, and Richy, a third year, and then you’ve got Zahner, and Moose–Ausmus, another second year guy, those guys are playing like veterans out there. It’s an unbelievable D core filled with tons of character. But Turner, he’s playing good hockey. He’s gonna be a good hockey player, that’s for sure.”
Carroll’s tenacity and the opening goal (which of course, ended up being the game winner) earned him second star, and Herbert took third with a goal and an assist.
Though Herbert had a goal in Friday’s game, he didn’t look quite as comfortably dominant as he had before his call up. That was not the case last night. He didn’t just score a dazzling goal, he did things like hesitate at the blue line waiting for his teammates to get back on-side and yet somehow retaining the puck despite the convergence the Indy players on his position. He also hounded Indy’s defensmen on the penalty kill, forcing them to make plays, and mistakes, like the one that led to the short-handed goal.
Utah’s back in action Wednesday, Friday, Saturday this coming week as well, playing all three games at home against the Allen Americans.
Image courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.