Utah Grizzlies: Slow Starts and Bad Bounces

The Grizzlies returned from Rapid City with three of four possible points (one win, and one OT loss) to face the Allen Americans for the first time this season. Short-handed again, it would be a stiff task against the Conference leading Americans. Kevin Carr got his season debut at the Maverik Center, behind Cédric Paré, Riley Woods, Matthew Boucher, Tiegan Zahn, and Alex Lepkowski, who returned to the lineup for the first time since January 8th. Diego Cuglietta, Mitch Maxwell, Trey Bradley, Joe Wegwerth, Yuri Terao, and Evan Buitenhuis all were sidelined.

Both teams came out a bit slow, feeling each other out, but Lepkowski lost his footing in the defensive zone, and gave the puck up to Corey Mackin. Mackin scored from a tight angle to put Allen up 1-0 2:52 into the first. The Grizzlies got going a bit after that, putting up a couple of nice shifts, including a nice one from Woods, and outshooting Allen 7-2 in the first six minutes.

Utah got the best of the chances as the period hit the half-way mark, but remained scoreless. With about eight to go, Cameron Kielly got in on a two-on-one, and gave the Americans a 2-0 lead. A.J. White had a memorable shift, still getting a shot off as he fell over while contesting his net-front spot. Though the Grizzlies continued to hold the offensive zone, and outshot Allen 9-5 in the first fifteen minutes, they weren’t able to turn the zone time into anything.

With four to go, Allen nearly made it 3-0, but the puck hit the bar and went out of play. Pat Cannone and Boucher both had good chances, Cannone ringing iron, in what was probably Utah’s strongest shifts of the period.

Through the first, overall, Utah played pretty well, especially in the second half, but got burned by Allen’s speed.

The Grizzlies came out with much more zip in their step to start the second, and drew the game’s first power play. Their work paid off as Jenkins sauced the puck across to Woods, who in turn beat Jake Paterson. Miles Gendron got the second assist.

Jenkins nearly added a goal to his assist with about six gone, as Utah kept their foot on the gas, and Horn followed that up with a thwarted look of his own. A bad change from Utah saw them pick up yet another too-many-men penalty with 11:16 to go in the second. They were able to kill it off well though, and Hunter Skinner and Matt Hoover got in two-on-one before the penalty ended. Carr also made a save on a weird hop.

Hoover got a golden opportunity to tie the game on a pass from Woods, as Paterson had committed to covering Woods. The puck went off the bar and back into play, and although they did stop to look at it, it did not count.

Jenkins was hit in the final five, drawing a Utah power play. Skinner got a chance on a rocket of a shot, and Utah set up some zone time, but they weren’t able to tie it up. Allen got a chance on the power play again with less than a minute to go. There was some pushing and shoving around Carr’s net in the final seconds, but when the buzzer sounded, the score remained 2-1, Utah outshooting Allen 21-17 in a much better effort.

The third period opened with 1:08 of power play time for the Americans, which Utah killed off, but Turner Ottenbreit made it 3-1 at ? as Carr made the initial save, but then the puck trickled past him. Utah took another penalty, and though they killed that off, Allen again scored just moments after they returned to full strength, the puck possibly deflecting in off a defender’s skate.

Utah got a chance on the power play of their own, just about five in, and Ryan Lowney cut the Americans’ lead in half with a blast from the top of the right face-of circle. They had a good shift leading to the half-way point of the third, and Jared Pike drew a hooking call. The Grizzlies weren’t able to build off their play before it.

Utah probably got away with a few after returning to full strength, and Gendron came close to putting Utah within one twice on one shift. Branham pulled Carr for the extra skater with 3:11 to go. Unfortunately, Cannone bobbled the puck at the line, and Colby McAuley scored into the empty net.

Despite the loss, a number of players continued to look good, Woods has points in every game since he signed in Utah, while Boucher has eight points in nine games, as well as regularly leading the team in shots (six tonight). Gendron picked up two assists. Special times went well for the Grizzlies as well, as they killed all three penalties, and scored on two out of four power play opportunities. At the end though, it was the inability in the first period to keep Allen from breaking in past the defensemen, and in the third to keep pucks from going in on deflections. Not for nothing is Allen the best team in the conference.

These same two teams meet again tomorrow and Sunday afternoon.

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Woods (Jenkins, Gendron) (PP)
  • Third Period: Lowney (Cannone, Gendron) (PP)
    Carr: 17/22 saves

Photos courtesy of Tim Broussard.

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