Utah Grizzlies: No Bones About It

After a 5-2 loss in regulation yesterday, the Grizzlies looked for redemption. The lines saw a bit of a shake up, though the personnel remained the same, except in net, where Brad Barone was backed up by Even Buitenhuis.

The game didn’t get off to an auspicious start, the Americans scoring 1:32 into the first. Things got chippy after that, Tiegan Zahn getting into it with Dyson Stevenson, and then Matt Hoover dropping the gloves with him at 3:15. Stevenson got the best of him, but Hoover put up quite a fight, and was remarkably strong on his skates.

The Grizzlies got the first power play of the night at 6:03, but though they moved the puck pretty well, and had some good looks, they were unable to turn the advantage into anything. The same was true for Allen when they got a power play at 12:40, following a hit on Miles Gendron, and a holding call on Riley Woods.

For a period that had a goal and a fight, it was remarkably quiet. The Grizzlies looked more prepared for the Americans’ speed, but then again, neither team really did anything worth noting. Shots were 7-4 for Allen at the end of it all.

The Grizzlies started better, Hunter Skinner looking quite poised, looked good, but the Americans drew the first power play as Skinner and Miles Gendron raced to break up an Allen chance. Skinner threw himself in front of some pucks on the kill, Barone made some saves, but the Americans scored on another redirection to make it 2-0 at 2:11.

Allen built on the momentum of the power play goal for a shift or so, but the Grizzlies pushed back, Skinner and the Woods line creating some opportunities. The Americans took a too many men penalty at 4:45, but Barone got dinged with playing the puck outside of the trapezoid, and the Americans got a brief four-on-four, then power play out of it.

Things got a little heated shortly afterwards around the Allen net, and the game devolved into more clutching and grabbing, with some big hits around the midway mark. Barone made some good saves, though shots for both teams remained low 13-7 with about seven left.

Utah had some long stretches in the Americans’ zone after that but largely were held to the boards. A.J. White and Kris Myllari woke up the fans at 14:55, flying in two-on-one. White took the initial shot, and the rebound found itself right on the stick of Myllari who scored his first pro goal to cut the lead in half.

With about a minute to go, the Americans came storming into the offensive zone, but a block from Garrett Johnston sent the puck the other way. White got a look of his own with forty something seconds to go, but despite evening up the shots (15-13 for the Americans), they were unable to tie it up before the end of the frame.

The Grizzlies came out hot to start the third, picking up two shots and making life interesting for the Americans around their goalie just 19 seconds in. That jump persisted as the period progressed, Utah doing a much better job of breaking up passes, and generally showing more creativity in the offensive zone than they had.

Zahn took a roughing penalty behind the play at 3:14, but the Grizzlies killed it off, allowing only one shot. Utah continued to build on their work, playing some of their best hockey since the roster got shaken up by injuries and call-ups, and drew a power play at 8:59. The Grizzlies passed better than they had all game, and the Americans took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with just over a minute remaining on the first penalty.

The Grizzlies held on to the puck five-on-three, making the Americans move, and then the puck went to the stick of Pat Cannone. Cannone’s fifth of the season tied the game, and the Grizzlies remained on the advantage.

They weren’t able to capitalize again, but retained control of the general flow of the game, outshooting Allen 26-21 through 15 minutes.

Skinner took a tripping penalty with under two to go, Barone made some big saves, and the Grizzlies kept Allen off the score-sheet in the third, heading into OT.

The Grizzlies killed off the end of the penalty, and though Allen got more zone time, the Grizzlies did a good job of helping Barone out. At the end of OT, shots were 33-29 for the Americans, and the game headed to the shoot out. Jesse Mychan was the only skater to score, giving Allen the 3-2 win.

It wasn’t the result the Grizzlies wanted, but it is definitely an encouraging sign that their third period was the best hockey we’ve seen in some time. Barone was solid in net, Jack Jenkins picked up the team-leading six shots, White had two assists, and overall in the third, passing was more crisp, the skating was strong, and the defense was up to par. Woods’ point streak came to an end, but he remains a point a game since his signing, and with his goal, Cannone extended his point streak to four. Skinner now has four points in his first four pro games. Guys like Johnston also had good games, despite not showing up on the score sheet. If Utah can replicate that third period for more of the game tomorrow, it should be a good game.

Goal

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Myllari (White)
  • Third Period: Cannone (White, Skinner) (PP)
    Barone: 30/32 saves

Images courtesy of Tim Broussard and Rob Church.

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