Utah Grizzlies vs Wichita Thunder: Finding a Way

With the exception of a newly activated Christian Frey, the roster remained the same as it had been on Wednesday.

First Period

  • Much sharper start from the Grizzlies tonight, they’ve picked up the first two shots in the first couple of minutes.
  • Make that first three. Gage Ausmus takes the puck around the back of the net and puts it right on J.T. Henke’s stick. Unfortunately Stuart Skinner was there to meet it.
  • MIKE ECONOMOS KNOCKS OUR SOCKS OFF. (With some help from the Ryans!)
  • Shots are 6-3 for Utah with just under nine minutes to go, so definitely a better first period effort.
  • Kevin Carr is very sharp tonight.
  • Travis Barron and Pierre-Cedric Labrie had words after that whistle. No penalties thus far.
  • Austin Carroll and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin definitely building up some ill-will on that shift!
  • Labrie spends almost a whole shift blatantly trying to goad Zahn into a fight. Zahn eventually gets fed up, and both get roughing calls.
  • Now Barron and Dyson Stevenson exchange words.
  • Preeettty sure Stan Dzakhov should have drawn a tripping call there…
  • Well, that was a very fun first period!!

Second Period

  • YIKES! That’s one way to start the second! A series of bobbled pucks by Wichita and saves by Carr eventually leads to a slashing call on Barron.
  • That was a pretty nice shift by the Grizzlies after the penalty was killed off!
  • That looked bad. J.T. Henke gets hit by the net as it flies off its moorings…He stays on the bench, however, and seems none-the-worse for wear.
  • Well, that’s not what you want. Jesse Gabrielle gets behind the Utah defensemen and beats Carr.
  • Ausmus with a thunderous hit that sure got the crowd going!
  • That Ryan Misiak-Barron chance was almost a fantastic short-handed goal. Sadly, the key word is almost.
  • Wichita has definitely played a lot harder this game in general, and this period in particular.
  • That was a really good shift from Misiak and company, and it leads to a power play!
  • You know that thing that we just said about Carr? It’s relevant again.
  • What a nice power play goal from Tim McGauley. (<–to be read the way Tyson calls it, of course.)

  • What a nice almost goal number two from McGauley.

Third Period

  • That McGauley, Henke, Barron line is looking strong tonight.
  • Watching Carr when he’s on his game like this is always such a treat. He’s so cool and collected, even when there’s a crowd around the net and rebounds are coming in from every direction.
  • Misiak can’t believe that was off-sides, and neither can the fans.
  • That was not one of their better power plays.
  • Ausmus and Misiak have had strong nights tonight.
  • The later in the game we go the more nerve-racking these icings are.
  • Empty net Wichita, talk about nerve-racking.
  • Shots are now 31-20 for the Thunder…
  • JACK WALKER WITH THE EMPTY NETTER!!! Those wheels.
  • Grizzlies win 3-1!!!

Tim McGauley’s tenth of the season, and the eventual game winner, got him first star honors, while Carr’s 30/31 saves earned him second star, and Walters’ two assists and over-all strong play saw him named third star.

“I think Wichita out played us the majority of the game,” said Coach Branham said of the match. “You know what though, we were opportunistic, probably could have scored three or four goals there in the second even though we didn’t play well. Power play once again got us one, that was huge, the game winner, but at the end of the day, we were able to keep them to the outside, we were able to close off rebounds and clear the rebounds. At no point did I think we were in trouble. I think in the second period they had a few chances and we just kind of stopped playing a little bit, we just had to get our battle and our compete level back. But for the most part we found a way to get two points, it was good, good teams do that, we’ve gotta make sure we have a more consistent effort tomorrow for sure.”

“I thought Carr was good. He was really good. Especially late in that game, in the third when shots were coming in, he was able to steer them to the corner, or in the glass, or out of play, it settles things down for us, that’s for sure. Then his ability to play the puck — gets us out of trouble. He’s a competitor, that’s for sure. I know he’s probably wanted to play a lot more games this year, and right now he’s getting his chance, and getting in a rhythm. There’s a reason we brought him back. He’s a heck of a goaltender.”

When asked about the game, Carr said, “The guys played really well in front of me, helped me see a lot of shots, kept them mostly to the outside, so I think we’ve gotta bring that effort tomorrow night.”

“They’re a good team” he added. “We have to respect them, just like every other team in this league, and I think we’re just playing the right way right now, just gotta keep it going.”

The Grizzlies look close out the home stand with a sweep tomorrow night.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs. Wichita Thunder: A Wild, Wild Wednesday

It’s a new year, and I’m going to try something a little different. The Grizzlies always post a game recap on their website, so I’m going to take a leaf out of the Habs Eyes on the Prize book and do a modified version of what we call “Top Six Minutes”, which is very informal in style, and therefore much easier to produce while running around like a mad person during home games.

With the return of Travis Barron, Nolan De Jong, and Jake Marchment, as well as the signing of Stanislav Dzakhov, the Grizzlies played with the closest thing to a full roster that they’d had in weeks. Kevin Carr got the start behind ten forwards and five defensemen, and with Joe Cannata back in the AHL, Jay Stevens made an appearance as the EBUG.

First Period

  • Naturally, former Grizz Ralph Cuddemi gets the first shot of the game. Fortunately, Carr smothers it.
  • Wichita scores first. Not an ideal start, that’s for sure.
  • Really nice defensive move by J.T. Henke there to prevent a one-on-none.
  • Wichita has jumped out to a 5-0 lead in shots…
  • That was a really nifty spin-o-rama from Ryan Walters to hold onto puck possession, and look at that! A power play!
  • Some really quick whistles in a row here…
  • After a rough start, Utah seems to have settled down nicely. Carr with some good saves, and shots are now 5-4.
  • Jack Walker with those wheels.
  • Utah takes over the shot lead with just under five to go in the first!
  • That Sweet Carroll Line picks up right where they left off at the end of last year! Austin Carroll from Walker and De Jong to tie the game!
  • That was NOT a good hit on Dzakhov. He’s down on the ice, and Jakob Stukel gets a match penalty for an illegal check to the head.

Second Period

  • The good news is that Dzakhov is on the bench to start the period.
  • The bad news is that penalties to Marchment and Richart killed off the remainder of that lengthy power play pretty effectively.
  • Of course Cam Reid scores on the power play with an assist from Ralph Cuddemi.
  • Walker ties it up, tapping the puck past Stuart Skinner for his first! Carroll and Marchment get the assists.
  • Barron makes it 3-2 on the power play! Assists to Henke and De Jong.
  • Another power play for Utah, and less than a minute after Barron’s goal, Marchment makes it 4-2 with a sweet move. Carroll and Richart get the assists.
  • PHEW. That was a wild couple of minutes!!
  • Now if they’d stop the insanity for just a few minutes so I can catch my breath…
  • Side note, shots are now 24-10 for Utah!
  • Well, that was a FUN period.

Third Period

  • One of these days that big shot of Gage Ausmus’ is gonna find the back of the net.
  • TIM MCGAULEY GOES BAR DOWN!!
  • Goal number five spells the end of Skinner’s night. Edwin Minney is in net now.
  • Carroll getting up in a Wichita player’s face. Boy is he fun to have back in the lineup. He brings it all: goals, exciting skating, and all that snark!
  • Walters in on a breakaway short-handed gets tied up, but gets an offensive zone draw!
  • McGauley wanted another one, but Minney shuts him down.
  • MacMillan gives Dzakhov a couple of jabs, and when Dzakhov turns around to retaliate, he’s dinged with a penalty.
  • With just under three to go, Iacobellis gets a third, on yet another assist from Reid.
  • 1:30 to go, Wichita’s net is empty…
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 5-3!!! Final shot count 31-22 for Utah.
  • Aaaaand of course there’s nonsense after the buzzer!

The three stars of the game all went to members of the Carroll Line. Carroll himself got first star with a goal and two assists, Walker’s first goal and sixth assist of the year earned him second star (and his five shots led the team), and Marchment got third star, also with a goal and an assist.

“I thought the first ten minutes of that hockey game we were just losing battles, they were beating us to pucks, winning battles, and then as the first period went on I thought we got better” said Tim Branham. “We took control in the second with our power play, for sure, and then in the third I thought we played well too. But there’s still some things we need to clean up to make things a little easier on ourselves, but definitely proud of our effort tonight. We’re short-handed again, and found a way to win.”

When asked what Carroll brings to the lineup, and what his return means to the team Branham said, “American league experience, winning experience, he can make plays, a big part of the early success of our hockey club, it’s definitely nice to have him back for as long as we have him.”

The Grizzlies will face off against the Thunder once again on Friday and Saturday.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads Recap: The Henke Show

Still short-handed on the blue line, the Grizzlies met the Steelheads in Idaho in a battle for Mountain Division supremacy. Tim Branham went with the hot hand, giving Kevin Carr the start. Tim McGauley also returned to the lineup, and Ryan Misiak remained Utah’s fifth defenseman.

Both teams began well, but Idaho got the first three shots followed by the first goal just before the three-minute mark. A minute later Jake Marchment dropped the gloves with Kale Kessy after the latter hit Caleb Herbert, both getting five for fighting and two for removing their helmets.

Utah remained shot-less, but drew a power play 6:01. Taylor Richart got the only shot of the advantage, and Idaho returned to full strength.

J.T. Henke kept his streak alive tying the game 1-1 at 8:57 on a completely uncontested centering shot from Tim McGauley. Richart got the secondary assist. Kyle Schempp got a boarding penalty at 9:17, and Utah tied up the shot clock 4-4.

Henke struck again at 15:10 slinging the puck easily past Ryan Faragher from Gage Ausmus and Joey Raats.

After 20, the shots were 8-5 in the Grizzlies’ favor, and they led thanks to the two Henke goals.

Misiak took a tripping call at 4:10, but Utah killed it off comfortably and Misiak had a good look on the breakaway coming out of the box. Henke had a bid for the hat trick, but couldn’t beat Faragher, and Carr had to make some big saves as Idaho pressured in the back-half of the period.

Teigan Zahn took an interference call, but Marchment and Jack Walker made things interesting for the Steelheads. The Steelheads got some of their own back, but Carr battled and kept Utah ahead.

Richart extended the lead at 18:19, scoring his third of the season from Mike Economos and Jack Walker. The assist was Economos’ first point for Utah. Brad McClure took a high-sticking call in the dying seconds, and after 40, shots were 17-14 for Utah.

The Grizzlies once again weren’t able to capitalize on the advantage, but Zahn made it 4-1 from Ausmus and Herbert at 2:36. The goals kept coming in and Julien Nantel made it 5-1 at 5:21 from Richart and McGauley.

Utah kept sharp, despite the big lead, continuing to outshoot the Steelheads through the third period, ultimately ending the game outshooting Idaho 29-20 with the commanding win.

Richart (1G, 2A), Henke (2G, including GWG) and Ausmus (2A) were the three stars, though Carr undoubtedly deserved mention for his performance.

 

Without Joe Cannata, Utah once again started Kevin Carr, with Chris Komma as the EBUG.

The first period of Saturday’s game did not begin very well. Utah looked a little flat in the early going once again, but this time they allowed three goals including a power play number in the first ten minutes.

Teigan Zahn and Kale Kessy dropped the gloves at 10:34, and at 14:50, J.T. Henke once again opened the scoring. By the end of the period, shots were 12-10 for Idaho, but the second half of the first was definitely an improvement on the opening.

The second period got off to decent start, then absolute chaos broke out. Economos got boarded, and Zahn, Walters, and Walker all took exception. When the dust settled, Walker got two for roughing, Geoff Crisfield got a ten minute misconduct, Clint Lewis got a roughing penalty, and Tony Calderone got a five minute boarding major.

Fortunately, Economos seemed to be alright, returning to the ice and taking a hooking call at 6:23.

Economos got out of the box, and in less than 20 seconds, first Walters scored from Ully and Misiak, then Henke tied the game from Nantel and Richart.

Kessy took a roughing call, but Idaho scored short-handed, and then after some extreme penalty nonsense, Brad McClure scored on the power play. As Adrian Denny would have said, I don’t know about that…

After two, shots were 29-18 for Utah, but Idaho led 5-3.

Though Utah continued to hold the shot advantage, an offensive zone turn over led to a 6-3 goal in the first five minutes. Things continued to go decidedly Idaho’s way, as they collected one more goal, despite Utah outshooting the Steelheads 36-21. Mitch Moroz and Mike Economos got into a tussle with 1:11 to go, and the game came to a merciful end.

Obviously it wasn’t the second game anyone would have wanted, but J.T. Henke continues to be outstanding–especially considering he was picked up off waivers. He’s now up to eleven points in ten games with the Grizzlies. It was also good to see the power play showing signs of life, going 2/5.

Utah returns home for Christmas still on top of the Mountain Division, and will face the Allen Americans to end the year.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.

 

 

Utah Grizzlies vs Rapid City: Strong in the Force

With Nolan De Jong joining Kevin Davis, Josh Anderson, Austin Carroll, Matt Berry, Travis Barron, and Josh Dickinson in the AHL after Saturday’s game, and with Tim McGauley and Turner Ottenbreit both sidelined, the Grizzlies were seriously short-handed on Star Wars night. Kevin Carr got the start and Ryan Misiak played defense as the team dressed only 14 skaters. Considering how the other two games had gone, it looked a trifle worrisome.

Utah came out on a mission, flying around the ice, and jumping to a rapid lead when Julian Nantel scored his first at 1:19 from J.T. Henke. The Grizzlies got a 5-1 advantage in shots, then Kevin Carr had to be sharp as the Rush got three straight back. Rapid City got the game’s first power plays, both against Henke but got his own back, making it 2-0 with only 24 seconds to go in the first. The Rush got an unsportsmanlike conduct right after the goal, and Misiak got a tripping call with eight seconds left. After 20, shots were 12-8 for Utah.

The second began with almost two minutes of four-on-four, and the Grizzlies got a power play after that. The Rush poured it on through the middle stages of the second, but between Carr and the active sticks of the players in front of him, they held them off. Utah got into some penalty trouble in the back half of the period, losing Taylor Richart, Gage Ausmus, and Henke to the penalty box in rapid succession.

The penalty killers came up huge, however, and no sooner had Henke and Ausmus left the box then the former scored his fourth of the year. There was quite a scuffle after the goal, and Utah got another power play as Cole Ully, Josh Elmes, and Shaquille Merasty all got roughing calls. Tempers continued to flair as the game progressed, and Jake Marchment faced off against Dylan Quaile in the first of three fights. In the dying seconds of the period, Alec Baer got in all by himself, but Carr stopped him cold to end the period.

The third began with a new goalie for Rapid City, and a power play for the Grizzlies. They didn’t capitalize, but they were absolutely flying. They also racked up a 13-0 shot count through the first half. Henke made a bid for the hat trick on a mid-period power play, and the Grizzlies hit the 40 shot mark with just under eight to go. Then at 14:02 Mike Economos dropped the gloves with Matt Harrington in a furious bout to the great approval of all 7,926 fans in attendance. Not to be out done, R.T. Rice dropped the gloves with Merasty just 38 seconds later. Ausmus joined the combatants in the box for slashing almost immediately afterwards, and no sooner had he left the box, then he and Cedric Montminy were sent to cool their heels after matching roughing calls. Nantel ended the game in the box, but the Grizzlies got the 3-0 victory, out-shooting Rapid City 41-23 overall, and 20-5 in the final period.

Misiak turned out to be a surprisingly good substitution on the blue line, his speed standing him in good stead, and he looked quite comfortable quarterbacking the power play. Economos endeared himself to the home crowd in his first game on Friday, and won them over completely on Saturday. Henke (2G, 1A, 6 shots), Carr (23/23 saves), and Nantel (1G (the game winner), 8 shots) were the three stars of the game, and Carr got a standing ovation at the jersey auction following the game.

“The boys buckled down, and it was a gutsy effort. That’s a good team, that’s a hard working team over there, they’re missing a few players too, but we were able to get to their goaltender finally.” Tim Branham said. “He’s been a rock back there for them, but you can’t say enough about our effort. Carrsy, two short-handed breakaways, a short-handed three-on-one, he was really, really good tonight. Sticking up for teammates, big blocked shot by Zahn at the end, he didn’t even have to do it, there’s six seconds left, just leading by example there. Great effort by everybody, and it was one of our better games of the year.”

With three goals in the last two games, Henke seems to be really hitting his stride after being claimed off waivers from Greenville. “I think it’s just getting comfortable,” he said of his recent performance. “Coming from where I was to here is a little different, getting used to the altitude, and all that kind of stuff, playing with guys, and burying chances when I should.”

“It’s always tough to get guys called up and lose them, especially big scorers, but it’s a part of the game, I think we all had a gut check, I think we played hard today, everyone did a job, the fighters fought, the PK guys did great, Carrsy stood on his head, and good for him getting his first shut out, it all gelled well today.”

It looked like the team finally had regained their equilibrium after losing and replacing so many players in such a short period of time, but the challenge isn’t over yet. Nevertheless, Branham is confident in his group. “We’ve got a week off, we’ve got to put it together next week. I don’t know what our roster’s gonna look like next week, but whatever it is, we know that we can get the job done, and we’ve gotta bring that effort and that passion, and that simplicity every single game.”

The Grizzlies will play two games in Idaho next week, before finishing off the year at home against the Allen Americans.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs. Rapid City: Terrible Turnovers

Game one of the first home stand of December saw some new faces in the lineup for the Grizzlies Julien Nantel joined the team, Jack Walker made his home debut, Tim McGauley sat, possibly as a result of the play that saw him leave the game on the 22nd, and Joe Cannata got the start.

The new Cole Ully, Caleb Herbert, Julien Nantel line rang iron and looked dangerous in their first shift, but Ryan Misiak’s cross-crease pass landed square on the stick of Andrew Radjenovic, and though Cannata got the first shot, Radjenovic put the puck over him and into the net.

Utah got a power play at 3:20 and got a number of great looks, but the Rush returned to full strength with no change in score.

The Rush took over the shot lead about half-way through the first period, and made it 2-0 with exactly eight minutes to go after a sprawling Turner Ottenbreit was completely unable to break up the pass.

Ryan Walters took a hooking call exactly 46 seconds later and Richart took a puck up high. The bad news was that Rapid City immediately made it 3-0, but the good news was that Richart returned to the ice pretty quickly. With about 5:30 to go, Zahn elbowed a Rush player and dropped the gloves with Shaquille Merasty. Both got five, and Zahn got an additional two which Utah killed off.

The end of the period, the Rush led 3-0, out-shooting Utah 13-6. Although the Grizzlies’ defense certainly was lacking in the period, Joe Cannata was also uncharacteristically bad, seeming to have difficulty finding the puck on multiple occasions.

The second period saw the Grizzlies come out with some speed and physicality, and they did a better job of bottling things up in the neutral zone.

The speed of Jack Walker drew a hooking call at 2:39, but turnovers continued to plague the team, and Rapid City returned to full strength with no change in score.

Ottenbreit dropped the gloves with Josh Elmes at 7:42 and the two headed to the box, Ottenbreit receiving some enthusiastic cheers for his efforts.

In the following minutes the Grizzlies got some of their best looks of the game. Unfortunately, however, they weren’t able to beat Rush players to the puck on the rebounds or beat Adam Carlson.

After the Utah pressure, De Jong took a delay of game penalty at 13:42 but the penalty killers played very aggressively and kept the man advantage from looking dangerous. Once De Jong got out of the box, the Grizzlies kept pressuring, and it paid off at 16:48. Cole Ully wired the puck past Carlson for his tenth of the year from Ryan Walters and Joey Raats.

Fortunately, the Grizzlies looked more cohesive through the second, out-shooting the Rush 13-6 in the period.

The Grizzlies came out buzzing in the third, Walters, Ully, and Herbert coming just inches away from beating Carlson in the opening moments.

The early hustle drew an interference call at 1:09, and by the time the Rush returned to full strength, the Grizzlies had jumped out to a 7-0 shot lead in six minutes.

Utah continued to pressure, but Ully took a high-sticking call at 10:38 in the offensive zone. It didn’t really matter though, as the penalty killers kept the Rush fighting for the puck in their own zone.

Despite continuing to play better, a late power play, and pulling Cannata for the extra attacker, the Grizzlies were unable to beat Carlson again, falling 3-1.

In the end, it was the egregious turnovers in the first period that doomed Utah, together with their inability to get more than one past Carlson. However, it was good to see them pull together in the second and third and look more like the team we’re accustomed to seeing, even though they didn’t score.

The team looks to rebound tonight and Saturday in the next two games of the home stand.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.