Utah Grizzlies: Fast and Furious

Back at home again, but still down Travis Barron, Cole Cassels, Josh Dickinson, Ryan Wagner,  Ty Lewis, and now Tim McGauley, the Grizzlies’ roster looked pretty different from the last time the home crowd saw them. In were Garrett Klotz, Jack Jenkins, and Jake Jackson, while Joe Wegwerth, Mason McDonald, and Hunter Miska all returned to the lineup. Teigan Zahn drew in as the tenth forward, and Misika, hot off a highly successful AHL stint, got the start.

Both teams came out flying, Utah looking especially quick and heavy hitting, creating all kinds of mayhem (but also having to defend against it as well). Into the first four minutes, Utah had decidedly the greater zone time, but had only put up two shots to Orlando’s one.

Yuri Terao especially had some fire in his step, while Garrett Klotz made sure everyone was wide awake with a big hit in the opening minutes. The Grizzlies drew the first power play of the night with Cody Donaghey heading to the box for slashing. Taylor Richart got a couple of big shots from both points, and then Eric Williams beat Clint Windsor with a backhand shot to give Utah the 1-0 lead.

On the next shift, Peter Tischke took a cross-checking call, and the Utah PK got to work half-way through the first, and killed it off. The play that followed wasn’t the cleanest Utah’s shown this season, but it got the job done.

At 7:15, Teigan Zahn and Jake Coughler dropped the gloves at the offensive zone blue line, Zahn got the take-down, and both were sent to cool their heels in the box.

Neither goalie saw much work through the first period, but Miska was where he needed to be when he needed to be, especially as Orlando began to pressure in earnest at the end of the first. The Solar Bears’ hard work paid off, as they took over the shot lead, and with 2:22 to go in the first, made it 1-1.

Utah had a little bit of push-back at the end, and at the buzzer, Mike Economos took the butt end of a stick to the gut, causing a crowd to gather.

After 20, Orlando out-shot the Grizzlies 8-5, but the score remained 1-1.

Griffen Molino had two prime looks to start the second, and Utah headed to the power play, thanks to a delay of game penalty from Chris LeBlanc.

The Grizzlies pressed hard on the advantage, and took the shot lead again before the power play came to an end.

Patrick McGrath took a roughing call about five into the second, but Miska and the penalty killers got the job done once again. J.C. Brassard had a stand out moment of his own shortly thereafter, managing to stall at the blue line long enough for his teammates to tag up while retaining possession of the puck.

The Grizzlies got another power play just past the half-way mark of the second. However, they only really got a couple of looks from the center of the ice before Orlando returned to full strength.

Leblanc found himself back in the box for the third time in the period after slashing Zahn’s stick out of his hands, but though Utah set Richart up perfectly several times, and moved the puck well, the best PK in the league held them at bay.

Orlando got a chance on the power play towards the end of the period when McGrath took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Miska once again showed the moves that earned him a shut out in the AHL, and the Grizzlies killed off the penalty.

The second period came to an end in the midst of a lengthy rugby scrum, shots 20-20, and the score still 1-1.

The third period got off to a choppy start, and both teams fought through the neutral zone for possession. Peter Tischke and Tayler Thompson got matching roughing calls, and Miska remained stellar.

As the period progressed, both teams found themselves in their respective offensive zones for prolonged periods of time. Utah took a delay of game penalty at 8:03, but were able to kill it off fairly smoothly.

As the game entered the final ten minutes of regulation, Miska continued to coolly hold down the fort, and another delay of game penalty sent Utah back to the man advantage.

Once again, the Grizzlies created some nice chances, and made some really nice plays, but were unable to finish on the man advantage.

As the final seconds raced by, Molino whistled the puck at the net, and only just missed giving Utah the regulation win. Utah earned the point, and headed into OT.

Terao got two grade A looks in the first 30 seconds, but was thwarted first by the bar, and second by Windsor.

Fortunately for the Grizzlies, their defense keeps stepping up to fill the scoring void, and Brassard ended OT with his second of the year.

Hunter Miska was easily the best player on the ice for most of the game, but Brassard’s OT GWG earned him first star while Miska took second star, and Williams was named third. Terao and Molino were on fire the entire night, and while they didn’t capitalize, their play led to some really terrific scoring chances.

“Stellar goal-tending, same with theirs, their goal-tending was stellar as well, really proud of the way that our group played” said head coach Tim Branham in his post game comments. “A lot of the things that we worked on in practice this week we implemented. We played a full 60 minutes. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And then the way that they played, the way that they battled, they played a full 63 minutes, whatever it was, can’t say much more other than how proud I am of the way they played.”

Things have been challenging lately, but though they’ve struggled, the Grizzlies haven’t backed down. “We’ve got six forwards in the American league right now, on one team or another. Kudos to these guys who have stepped in and filled those rolls. We knew that we’re not gonna score ten goals a game, or seven goals a game. It is what it is. Our challenge is to play well defensively, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight. Special teams was good again, and it’s a work in progress. Right now this group wants it. They want it really bad, and they’re doing a great job.”

“We know that our record isn’t exactly what we want at this moment,” JC Brassard said of the team’s season so far, “But we’ve been working really hard in practice, doing all the right things, working hard in games, we just didn’t get bounces until tonight, and I think everyone is happy it paid off, and all the hard work is coming together.”

It was obvious that Miska’s return from the AHL helped as well. “When you have a goalie in net who you can trust, and you know is gonna clean up your mistakes, it makes playing a whole lot easier” Brassard added. “You play more relaxed, and you’re a lot more focused on the game as opposed to someone else’s job, so it helped a lot to have him here, and we’re really glad he’s back down.”

Despite having so much movement in the roster, the team seems to have gelled really well. “We’re all working together, we were all clicking today” Brassard said. “We got in a practice together with all the new guys. The coaches have been doing a really good job, and they get everyone informed before the game, and get everyone on the same page.”

The Grizzlies hope to bring the same mindset and execution to tonight’s rematch.

Goals

  • First Period: Williams (Lauzon, Wegwerth) (PP)
  • Second Period: None
  • Third Period: None
  • OT: Brassard (Jenkins)

PP: 1/5
PK: 4/4

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff

Utah Grizzlies: A Work In Progress

After a strong road game, the Grizzlies iced the same winning lineup, with the exception Mason McDonald starting to give Jeff Smith the rest in the second of three games in as many days.

Yuri Terao got the first shot of the night, but Idaho sent the puck pin-balling around the crease. The goal light went off, but it looked like it might have gone off the iron and out. The uncertainty led to the first video review at the Maverik Center. Unfortunately, it was ruled a good goal, putting Idaho up 1-0 at 2:05.

Less than a minute later, however, Colton Saucerman took a tripping call to send Utah to the power play. The Grizzlies were unable to muster as much as a shot on the advantage. To be fair, both teams were stingy on shots, allowing five between them in the first eight minutes.

Idaho largely kept the puck in the Grizzlies’ zone, or if Utah got in to attack, managed to get a stick in the way of any opportunities. Fortunately for Utah, however, Idaho put the puck over the glass, sending the boys to the power play. It wasn’t going so well when Taylor Richart laid a thunderous hit on and Idaho player. Immediately thereafter, he took an elbow to the face, and Michael Economos took violent exception. He took down Saucerman, and while both got five for the fight, Saucerman got five for elbowing Richart, and a game misconduct.

Utah made them pay immediately, Griffen Molino scoring his fourth of the year from Travis Barron and Ryan Wagner.

Tim McGauley took a penalty to negate most of the rest of the five minute major, but both teams returned to full strength with no change in score.

At the end of 20, shots were 8-6 for the home team in an entertaining 1-1 game.

Utah spent the first four minutes in their own zone, and unsurprisingly, it led to a penalty. Kevin Davis went to the box for high-sticking. Surprisingly (or perhaps not, considering how they’ve played on the PK, the Grizzlies were more aggressive and coordinated on the disadvantage, and killed it off with only one shot allowed.

Although the Grizzlies did not pick up a shot through the first half of the period, they started to control play much ore than they had up until that point, McGauley, Davis, and Terao all creating nice opportunities.

After multiple close calls, the Grizzlies’ drive picked up a power play. Utah kept working hard, and a wicked shot from Richart led to a wild scramble in the goal-mouth. In the mean time, the puck went out to the stick of J.C. Brassard, who had lots of time to beat a beleaguered Tomas Sholl for his first with Utah. Barron and Richart got the assists.

The Grizzlies continued to press, leading to some great looks, including a wrap-around beauty by Ryan Wagner followed up by a shot that was especially memorable. Terao and Brassard also had a two-on-one that Sholl stopped dead.

On the other end of the ice. McDonald made some big saves of his own, perhaps none bigger than those with 30 and then 13 seconds to go in the period. After 40, the Grizzlies trailed in shots 18-14, but led 2-1 where it mattered.

Coming into the third, the Grizzlies faced the challenge of one of the best (if not THE best) come-back teams in the league. Idaho ran the Utah zone for the first couple of minutes, and it payed off. Zack Andrusiak scored with minimal fuss at 5:05.

It appeared to be just the swift kick Utah needed though, as they picked up the pace significantly following the goal. Overall though, the Steelheads managed to keep the play largely (though not exclusively) in the Utah zone.

Economos took a delayed tripping call with just under six to go, and McDonald made a huge series of saves. Once again, the Grizzlies’ kill got the job done.

As time ticked down, and the Steelheads with an offensive zone draw, McDonald made another terrific save, and sprinting the other way, McGauley, Terao, and Molino came close. However, regulation wasn’t enough to break the deadlock.

Unfortunately, Andrusiak got his second of the game, giving Idaho the 3-2 OT win.

At the end of the day, the Grizzlies played well, but made a couple of crucial mistakes that Idaho jumped on.

Andrusiak’s two goals, including the game winner earned him first star honors, while Barron (two assists), and Molino (one goal) took second and third. Wagner didn’t pick up a point, but  continued to impress, as did Terao who continues to always be exactly where he needs to be, and now joins McGauley and Wagner in the point-per-game club.

Idaho best PK team in the league, Utah had two against them. Unfortunately, Idaho is also a brilliant comeback team, and Utah gave them the opportunity to do so.

“Obviously protecting our third period leads haven’t been good.” Tim Branham said after the game. “We didn’t do it yesterday, but we were able to score, and then today again, going into the third with the lead, the first five minutes wasn’t good enough. We generated scoring chances, didn’t generate shots.”

So what do they have to do to remedy that?

“We’ve got to keep things more simple. We talk all the time about managing the puck, and we just have too many turnovers. Too many turnovers in key areas. It’s unacceptable. We’re working on that, just getting it through guys’ heads to keep things simple. And once again, everything that they got, we gave them. We had the puck on our stick, we turned it over, two of the four goals last game were like that too. We gotta make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot so we can give ourselves a chance. But at the end of the day, that’s a good team over there, it’s a good battle each and every night, it could go either way. Tonight they got a couple of chances in overtime, and it went their way.”

Not all is grim, however, as special teams continue to be a strength. The Grizzlies capitalized twice on the advantage against a strong PK team, but even the penalty kill created momentum — in at least once instance, even more momentum than five-on-five.

“Just like last year, our special teams have been really good all year. Idaho scored two goals on us last game, but a four-on-three, that’s a tough one, then there was another quick strike, not characteristic of our team. Back to work again, the penalty kill was great, our power play got us two, our special teams are always great. Our five-on-five play has got to improve. Like you said, the intensity, we start every period slow. They scored again on the first shot. They scored in the first five minutes last game, even though we were taking it to them. But still, we’ve got to make sure that when we’re playing we’re getting results, and keeping things simple. Hockey is a simple game. When you start to over-complicate it and try things new and out of your skill set, or whatever, bad things happen. You’ve got to play the percentages and good things come your way.”

Despite the loss, McDonald had perhaps his strongest game since preseason, making a couple of especially key saves especially at the end of the second and third periods. It was a marked improvement, but there’s still room for more.

“He played well. He gave us a chance to win” Branham said. “I’m all over our goalies to say it’s not good enough, be the reason we win. I’m still waiting for that, but he had a really strong game after that first shot went in. A great bounce-back game for him, and it’s gonna be good for his confidence. We have good goaltenders, and they need to get better each and every night so that they can grow as well. They need to be the reason we win, not just give us a chance.”

We had a chance to speak to third star Griffen Molino afterwards as well, and his thoughts were similar.

“Obviously they got that one quick one,” He said of the opening Idaho goal, “But I thought we answered back, and then it was pretty even for most of the game. But having that lead going into the third was big, and those are points that you just can’t find a way to lose.”

It was a common theme, but he definitely sees promise in the team.

“It’s a young group of guys, a lot of first year players, and managing the game, especially with a 72 game season, is obviously critical. We’ve seen it a handful of times already, so I think moving forward it’s just the little things, taking care of the puck, getting things out of your own end and into theirs, especially late in the game when you’re holding the lead, it’s pretty important.”

“We’ve got a close group. I think a lot of these guys are working hard to make a name for themselves, and in the early going it’s been tough for our team, but I think that we’re coming together game by game, and getting better and better. Trying to keep things simple, and as far as the power play goes, I think it’s just who you’re playing with, and getting the reps in in practice, and in the game feeling comfortable with guys and building a rapport. As far as that goes, tonight we got a couple of good cracks at them, traffic in front of the net, and so it worked out.”

When asked about his line with McGauley and Terao, which showed flashes of future promise, as well as some immediate results, he thinks it is, again, just a matter of time.

“With Cassels and [Dickinson] being called up, it’s kind of a new line formation, but one that seems to be working kind of early on. But like you guys know, the more you play with someone, or with a group of guys, it’s easier and you figure out tendencies and stuff like that as you said, it felt like we were one or two seconds away, or a pass here or there away from really clicking. I think it’s gonna come.”

The two teams will meet for their third game in as many days, and their second in less than 24 hours on Sunday afternoon.

Goals

  • First Period: Molino (Terao, Barron) (PP)
  • Second Period: Brassard (Barron, Richart) (PP)
  • Third Period: None
  • OT: None

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: The Kelly Klima Show

The Grizzlies continued the second stage of their road trip in Rapid City on Friday night. Mason McDonald got the start, while Josh Anderson joined the team from Colorado. Colin Jacobs and Patrick McGrath both played in place of Tim McGauley and Yuri Terao, and Mason McDonald got the start.

This weekend, I’ll be returning to the far less formal “Top Six Minutes” style recap that made a few appearances last season, so be prepared.

First Period

  • Really good penalty kill for the Grizzlies after Travis Barron headed to the box for high-sticking.
  • Felix Lauzon heads to the box, but takes Kelly Kilma with him. REALLY excellent kill from Utah.
  • The Rush strike first on the breakaway. BOOO.
  • It’s a Grizzlies shooting gallery out there! Definitely the response you want to see after a goal against.
  • That was a fantastic scoring chance from the Captain.
  • Taylor Richart and Josh Dickinson both threw themselves in front of shots that shift. Looked painful, but neither of them missed so much as a shift.
  • There’s that lightning fast glove-hand of Mason McDonald’s there.
  • Ryan Wagner’s hands are marvelous.
  • Eric Williams draws a short-handed power play in the offensive zone!
  • Not a great power play.
  • Those were some really nice plays that didn’t lead to anything, sadly.

Second Period

  • Early power play for the Grizz there.
  • Oooh, Erik Källgren wasn’t 100% sure he had that shot from Richart.
  • Some speedy skating from Griffen Molino draws another power play!
  • What. A. Save. McDonald stones Montminy on a breakaway out of the box.
  • And a couple other big saves from them.
  • COLIN JACOBS TIES THE GAME. Nice move too. Wagner and Brandon Saigeon with the assists.

  • Power play again for the Grizzlies.
  • Oh, that SNIIIIIIIIIPE. Dickinson with his EIGHTH of the season on the advantage.
  • Never heard of a six minute penalty before. But McGrath is headed to the box for that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Two for slashing, four for high sticking, well that’s new, but makes sense.
  • And RC scores.
  • McGrath and Saulnier with a furious fight there with 3:44 to go.
  • Ohhhh that was almost a glorious Griffen goal.
  • Power play for the boys! So many power plays this game.
  • Oh man, it didn’t lead to a goal, but that whole Richart, Dickinson, Barron sequence was lovely.

Third Period

  • A Rush player ends up in the net, but not the puck.
  • What. A. SAVE.

  • Thaaat one not so much. Klima with the hat trick.
  • HOW did that Cassels shot not go in???
  • Nice stick from Barron there.
  • Another one from Klima. McDonald was wearing a couple of players on that one, unfortunately initiated by a Grizzlies player.
  • Molino’s kind of fast in case you somehow managed to miss that memo.
  • I’m not gonna argue very hard with something not being called against the Grizzlies, but how was that not a trip on Utah.
  • Josh Dickinson out there making scoring look absolutely effortless. 4-3 with just over two to go.

  • Late power play for Utah!!!
  • Six-on-four with an empty Grizzlies net.
  • No dice.
  • Utah falls 4-3, but it sure was an entertaining game.

After witnessing Josh Dickinson blaze his way through teams the past few games, the Grizzlies did get a bit of a taste of their own medicine. Klima scored all four of the Rush’s goals, and was named first star.

As was predicted ahead of time, power plays did indeed play a large part, both teams getting two. Rapid City does look to be a far better team than they have been in years past. As a result, although there were certainly some frustrating moments, and plenty of things to clean up, it was overall an entertaining game.

Utah looks to settle the score tomorrow night.

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Jacobs (Wagner, Saigeon) (PP), Dickinson (Richart, Cassels (PP)
  • Third Period: Dickinson (Wagner, Molino)

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: Ever So Close

After Friday’s tour-de-force, it wasn’t much of a surprise to discover that with the exception of Brandon Saigeon who was scratched and Mason McDonald who got the start, the lineup remained the same.

The game got off to a pretty similar start, Josh Dickinson wiring a shot on net on the first shift. This time, however, Jake Paterson was there to stop it. However, the Grizzlies continued to get the best of the zone time.

Unfortunately, Allen struck first following a Utah penalty, giving them the 1-0 lead at 3:58. Dickinson drew a power play on the next shift, but the Grizzlies couldn’t capitalize. The Americans played far better than on Friday, despite icing the puck several times as the period approached the half-way point.

At the twelve-minute mark, Tim McGauley backhanded the puck from the corner, and onto the stick of none other than Josh Dickinson. Dickinson buried it for his seventh goal in the last three games.

Yuri Terao took a tripping call with 3:53 to go, and the Grizzlies killed it off. However, the Americans took the lead with 1:02 to go on a goal from Olivier Archambault.

Peter Tischke and Brett Pollock took matching minors following the whistle, so the second period began four-on-four.

Griffen Molino got in on a breakaway, but was unable to beat Paterson in the opening minute of the second.

With 10:52 remaining, Wagner’s stick broke and went flying, and the Grizzlies lost focus just long enough for Allen to capitalize. A video review followed, but the goal stood.

Joe Wegwerth took a high-sticking penalty with 9:01 to go, but Utah killed it off. The Grizzlies proceeded to string together a couple of good shifts, and Cole Cassels scored his second of the year as the team crashed the net. Travis Barron got the assist, and Utah followed that up with several more offensive zone shifts, led by Dickinson and McGauley.

It turned out that it was only the beginning. Barron backhanded a Taylor Richart shot past Paterson to tie the game, and then McGauley gave Utah the lead on an absolute snipe. Terao took some net front abuse at 19:20, drawing a late power play, and sending Utah to the locker room up 4-3, out-shooting Allen 29-15, and with 1:40 of power play time to start the third.

At the buzzer, the Americans took a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, so the 1:40 of power play turned into 1:40 of five-on-three. The Grizzlies established some solid zone time, but the power play went the way of so many early-period advantages.

The game started to get a bit physical, and six minutes in, Allen tied it up 4-4. Terao got a helmet violation penalty. Barron and Cassels got a speedy two-on-one short-handed and then later on the same shift Barron and Alex Breton collided and were slow to get off the ice. Fortunately, both Barron and Breton were back fairly quickly.

Lauzon drew a power play with 4:41 to go, and then Allen put the puck over the glass to give Utah 1:28 of five-on-three at a critical moment. Unfortunately, Allen was able to kill off both two and one man advantages.

Teigan Zahn and Alex Gubtill dropped the gloves with ten seconds to go, and as regulation came to an end, tied 4-4, something of a crowd gathered.

Allen took the second standings point on a Gabriel Gagne goal 1:18 into OT, and Utah left Allen with three of four points.

Cassels picked up third star of the night on the strength of one goal and two assists, while Dickinson and Barron both extended their scoring streaks.

 

Goals

  • First Period: Dickinson (McGauley)
  • Second Period: Cassels (Barron), Barron (Richart, Cassels), McGauley (Cassels)
  • Third Period: None

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: Raining Goals

After the dominant win on Wednesday night, the Grizzlies’ lineup remained unchanged on their first road trip of the season, with good cause, as it quickly turned out.

The Grizzlies got off to a lightning fast start, Tim McGauley setting up Josh Dickinson’s fourth goal of the season just 34 seconds in.

Less than five minutes in, Allen goalie Dereck Baribeau was taken out with an injury , and Dickinson scored his second just moments later on a terrific rush play from Griffen Molino and McGauley.

Felix Lauzon scored his first pro goal less than a minute later, pouncing on an Americans turnover, and the Grizzlies continued to keep their foot firmly on the gas. Allen took the first penalty of the game at just about the half-way mark, but Utah didn’t capitalize.

It didn’t really matter, because at 14:10, Travis Barron got his fifth of the year. Ryan Wagner took a slashing call a couple of minutes later, but Utah headed to the locker room up 4-0, shots 10-9 in their favor.

Allen got a goal 49 seconds into the second, but Utah answered right back, Joe Wegwerth giving Utah back the four goal lead. Allen ran into a little bit of penalty trouble, going off for hooking at 2:50, and then again for delay of game just four seconds later. Dickinson made them pay, completing his second hat trick in as many games, Wagner picking up his second assist, and Yuri Terao also picking up a point.

The teams exchanged penalties, both of which were killed off. Eric Williams got his first pro goal, rattling Jake Paterson’s water bottle at 15:36 from Terao and Barron, who both continued to pick up the points.

Spencer Asuchak put Terao into the boards at 16:08, and Taylor Richart made them pay with a rocket on the man advantage.

After that, however, Allen rattled in three straight goals in less than two minutes to end the frame. Needless to say, it was a highly entertaining 20 minutes for the fans.

The offensive out-pouring was in no way done, as Molino sprinted past the Allen skaters, and beat Paterson one-on-one 3:54 into the third.

The teams took matching slashing penalties at 4:56, but Asuchak went to the box for high-sticking, and Cole Cassels managed to eek the puck past Paterson for the 10-4 goal from Richart and Barron.

Williams got a tripping call at 10:09, but Utah killed it off. Dickinson took a stick to the face with 3:12 to go, and the Grizzlies finished the game on the advantage.

Shots were a fairly respectable 31-22 for Utah, but the 10-4 scoreboard told the more important story.

Dickinson’s second hat trick of the week earned him first star of the night once more, while Travis Barron got second star with one goal and three assists, Ryan Wagner picked up third star with two. Honorable mentions to Richart, Cassels, and Molino all with with one goal and one assist each, and McGauley with two assists.

With an exception of the last two minutes of the second period, Utah played a very solid game, but they didn’t have to be particularly brilliant to rack up the goals. On most of them, their best players were allowed to do as they wished, largely uncontested. However, once again, the Grizzlies kept their foot on the gas despite the commanding lead.

It certainly will be interesting to see what happens when these two teams meet Saturday night.

 

Goals

  • First Period: Dickinson (McGauley), Dickinson (Molino, McGauley), Lauzon, Barron
  • Second Period: Wegwerth (Wagner), Dickinson (Wagner, Terao) (PP), Williams (Terao, Barron), Richart (Cassels, Barron) (PP)
  • Third Period: Molino, Cassels (Richart, Barron) (PP)

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.