Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: An Avalanche of Goals

On a very snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Idaho and Utah met for the ninth time this season. Tim McGauley returned from suspension, and Joey Raats joined the forward core in place of Josh Dickinson who was recalled to Colorado after the last game. Joe Cannata got the start, facing down former Grizz goalie Ryan Faragher.

First Period

  • That was a very nice shift from J.T. Henke, Jack Walker, and Eric Freschi! Good traffic in front of Faragher and nice puck movement.
  • Austin Carroll is fun. That spin-o-rama pass was 👌
  • A pretty soft defensive play along the right side, and Idaho strikes first.
  • CALEB HERBERT STRIKES RIGHT BACK ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • And then he and Teigan Zahn both end up in the penalty box. Oh dear.
  • Richart with the hero play on that wide open net.
  • That was a HUGE kill.
  • That Henke/Carroll Walker unit got some SERIOUSLY pretty looks.
  • WAS THAT A GOAL???
  • IT WAS. CARROLL ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • The power play sure has heated up again.
  • Of course Idaho strikes right back. This is the rivalry in a nutshell.
  • Both Zahn and Economos have whiffed on what looked to be lining up for gorgeous shots this period.
  • All this period has missed to be peak Idaho/Utah is a fight. There hasn’t been much by way of antagonism.
  • Shots 11-10 Utah!

Second Period

  • Cannata goes on an adventure, but Idaho can’t handle the puck cleanly, and Joe’s set up again before they can take advantage of the screen and the empty net.
  • Walker with the wheels beats out the icing. Exactly no one is surprised.
  • An aggressive offensive shift leads to a two-on-one going the other way, Idaho makes it 3-2.
  • Ah. There’s the crowd gathering after a whistle.
  • THERE’S the fight.
  • Wait. RICHY dropped the gloves with KING? Well, ok.
  • Oh boy. Idaho doubles the lead on a flawless shot.
  • Apparently it’s totally fine to mug Caleb Herbert at center ice.
  • Two quick goals puts Idaho up 5-2. This is less than ideal.
  • Special teams have been quite good, but the defensive effort five-on-five left a lot to be desired.
  • So I say that, and then they proceed to have a couple of really good shifts.
  • JOEY RAATS SCORES HIS FIRST!!! Freschi and Richart get the assists!
  • Economos and Mitch Moroz drop the gloves!
  • POWER PLAY GOAL FOR CALEB HERBERT. THIS IS NOT A RECORDING.
  • Better put the league on notice. It looks like Herbert may have woken up!
  • 5-4 after 40 is definitely a lot better than 5-2 after 40!!!

Third Period

  • That was a pretty important save from Cannata there.
  • Sigh. And that shift started out so well.
  • It’s been a pretty quiet period other than that goal.
  • EVERY BODY GETS A PENALTY.
  • That was some nice passing on the very end of the five-on-three.
  • Empty net with 2:45 to go…
  • Empty net goal.
  • Idaho wins 7-4 and the grueling home stand comes to an end.

Herbert’s two goals earned him second star of the game, and some praise from Tim Branham. “He wasn’t scoring, but he was able to get a few points there over the weekend,” he said. “Tonight was huge, he’s got a lethal shot, when we can set him up for those chances I like our odds.”

Herbert wasn’t the only player who came in for some praise.

“[Richart]’s done a good job of defending. He blocks a lot of shots, I bet you he and Zahner have probably blocked the most in the league. Those guys do everything that it takes to sacrifice for the team. That’s what it takes if you want to have success, that’s what it takes to win. From here on out the games get hard. It’s the best division in the league, no questions asked, and it’s gonna take everybody every single night to get a W.”

Although a lot of goals once again ended up in the back of the Utah net, they certainly can’t all be blamed on the Utah net minder. “Joe’s our guy.” Branham stressed, “Joe’s our guy, he’s been good for us, and we know what kind of goaltender he is. A lot of those goals, we gotta do a better job defending. He’s a big part of this team. Also, five on five, looks like we’re a little tired, to be honest, we’ve played a lot of hockey lately, and we just made a few mistakes that were costly. Definitely happy with the special teams, the power play moved the puck around really well, we were able to score three goals there, and one five-on-five. That’s positive. Our penalty kill was good, killing off a full two minute five-on-three, so we’re gonna build on that, go on the road here and build on that. Hopefully we can get a couple of guys healthy.”

Obviously, picking up more points would have been ideal, but the Grizzlies played four games in six days, and that’s gonna wear anyone down.

Utah does get some road-trip reinforcements in the form of Josh Dickinson and Kevin Davis, while Kevin Carr takes over the nets with Cannata getting called up to Colorado once again.

The Grizzlies take on the Kansas City Mavericks today at 6 PM MT.

 

Photo courtesy Jess Fleming and staff.

 

Utah Grizzlies vs Tulsa Oilers: Unsatisfactory

With a number of players out of the lineup, and Eric Freschi claimed off waivers to get the the minimum amount of skaters, Wednesday’s game promised to be a challenge from the word go. However, the Grizzlies are not exactly strangers to playing short-handed, and had previously risen to the occasion. Not quite so much this time.

First Period

  • Decent start so far, the three shots on Kevin Carr were turned aside with ease.
  • The Grizzlies look pretty scrambly, but they also seem to be getting where they need to be, so no harm done.
  • Two icings in a row? Not ideal.
  • Neither is that goal. 1-0 Tulsa.
  • Neither was that goal.
  • Lots and lots of offensive zone time for Tulsa, and it shows. Shots are 8-1 in their favor.
  • Jack Walker and Taylor Richart showing off their wheels and their puck possession ability on that shift, which leads to a rare (in this game) offensive zone face-off.
  • Austin Carroll takes a double minor for high sticking, and Walker gets tied up trying to clear the puck. The fans are not thrilled by the lack of a call.
  • Utah whiffs badly on the clear, fortunately Carr stops it.
  • A few hiccups aside, that was a very determined kill from the Grizzlies.
  • Out-shot 13-2 through the first 20 is pretty uncharacteristically terrible though.

Second Period

  • Hey look, a shot!
  • Really nice look from J.T. Henke, but unfortunately the puck goes straight into the crest on Fitzpatrick’s jersey.
  • The Grizzlies have been much better this period, getting some offensive zone time as well as some good chances, and it leads to a power play.
  • On the other hand, this is not a great power play.
  • We’ve hit double digits on the shot clock!
  • Well, the polish, finish, etc. may not be there, but at least there’s some effort.
  • Just when things were…well, maybe not looking up, but at least looking better, 3-0 Tulsa on the power play.
  • There have been a really surprising amount of whiffs on passes by guys who almost never make even a bad pass, let alone miss one entirely.
  • Well, shots are slightly more respectable, 19-11 for Tulsa, who now leads 3-0…

Third Period

  • Big poke-check by Carr there to prevent a shot.
  • WHAT. A. BREAKAWAY. Carroll breaks the shut out!
  • Then Carr immediately makes a couple of big saves to keep them within two.
  • Walker with a big hit that the crowd appreciates!
  • Each period has gotten progressively better, but good enough to score two more goals in eight minutes? I guess we’ll see.
  • Marchment and Carroll had a really hard working offensive zone shift, followed by a really strong effort from McGauley and Raats in the defensive zone.
  • There have been a lot of broken sticks this game.
  • Three to go, Utah power play, Carr pulled for the extra skater.
  • Aaaand negated. Four-on-four, Carr pulled again for the extra skater.
  • Empty net goal for Tulsa ices this one away.
  • 4-1 Oilers.

Overall, it was a fairly abysmal outing. Yes there was improvement from the first period, but even then, there were still whiffed passes, whiffed clears, and not a lot of shots, let alone good scoring chances.

 

Photo courtesy of Jess Fleming and staff.

Utah Grizzlies @ Cincinnati Cyclones: Measuring Up

For the first time in quite a while, the Grizzlies iced 16 skaters with Nolan De Jong, Josh Anderson, and Turner Ottenbreit all in the lineup. Joe Cannata got the start against Cincinnati, who have a number of former Grizzlies: Nate Mitton, Mitch Jones, and Eric Knodel.

First Period

  • Couple of great looks for the Grizzlies early.
  • Cannata misplays the puck and Cinci strikes first. In Cannata’s defense, he hasn’t played in quite a while.
  • Aaaand now Walters to the box. This is definitely not ideal.
  • Oh that was some sweet, sweet passing leading to Henke’s eleventh goal, and on the power play!

  • Some pushing and shoving leads to offsetting minors to Ottenbreit and Boomhower.
  • Lots of space here on the ice now that we’re four-on-three.
  • That is a GLORIOUS way to break the slump!! Walters with a very nice goal two-on-one with Richart.
  • So many penalties in this game.
  • 2-1 lead, shots 11-8 for us. A good start.

Second Period

  • Aaaand we’re tied again.
  • That was a very nice look from McGauley.
  • WHY would you start a shoving match in front of Cannata with Ottenbreit, Carroll, and Zahn standing right there? That seems like a bad idea!
  • Ausmus is having another strong game.
  • Economos gets run over and Josh Anderson takes exception, dropping the gloves with Justin Vaive.
  • This felt like a fairly uneventful period, even with the goal and the fight.
  • I SPOKE TOO SOON. I’M SO SORRY.
  • This was not ideal.
  • 3-2 after two.

Third Period

  • Walker got the first shot of the period just 12 seconds in, and no one else has got one in the next 4+ minutes.
  • Fight number two of the game goes to Carroll and Arvin Atwal who started a fight behind the play.
  • Aaaand we have another fight. Barron drops the gloves with Aquin this time.
  • Half a period to go, each team has only got one shot this period.
  • Considering the Grizzlies trail by one, we’re gonna need some more shots…
  • TIM MCGAULEY WITH A TERRIFIC SHOT.

  • And boy did that wake up both teams.
  • Well, regulation solves nothing!

OT

  • Cincinnati has all four shots in OT so far…
  • Fortunately Cannata has been SOLID in extra time.
  • That was a nice spinning shot from Walters.
  • That was an irritatingly good save from Houser.

Shootout

  • Round 1
    McGauley🚨
    Glotov 🚫
  • Round 2
    Walters 🚫
    Marnell 🚨
  • Round 3
    Walker 🚨
    Powell 🚫
  • WALKER GOES BAR DOWN!! He’s making quite a habit of winning shots!
  • CANNATA WITH THE SAVE!!
  • 4-3 GRIZZLIES!!!

Walker’s game winner earned him first star, Cincinnati’s Mike Marnell got second star, And Walters took third star with a goal and an assist.

The Grizzlies considered this meeting against the best team in the conference a “measuring stick game”. Considering it took a shoot-out to break the deadlock, and that the shots were a very close 36-32 for Utah, it would seem that they measure up very well. Utah remains on top of the Mountain Division, and holds games in hand on all of their division rivals. It might not have been the most dazzling game the Grizzlies have played this season, but they got the job done, and that’s what matters.

They will now head out to Wheeling for Friday’s game.

Utah Grizzlies vs Wichita Thunder: Home Sweep Home

With Nolan De Jong loaned to the AHL San Jose Barracuda, the Grizzlies went into this game back down to nine forwards and five defensemen, counting Ryan Misiak as a defenseman. Even though Joe Cannata returned from Colorado, the Grizzlies went with the hot hand in Kevin Carr.

First Period

  • That seemed like a really fast first five minutes. Shots 3-1 for Utah, not much by way of whistles, just good, quick hockey.
  • Henke, Barron, and Richart all just barely missed the net in a very short period of time.
  • And now Walters and Dzakhov with a pair.
  • Kevin Carr is in the zone again.
  • All your second chances belong to the Grizzlies.
  • The more he plays, the more I like Dzakhov.
  • This has been a very businesslike first period. Already half-way through, and there hasn’t been a penalty or many whistles.
  • So I say that and Utah gets a power play.
  • The puck support has been really good the past two games especially. As demonstrated there by Zahn and Raats.
  • Carr makes a crazy series of saves, and the crowd is loving it.
  • Walters gets held down in front of the net with, and we all resent that.
  • Zahn with the penalty less than a minute before the end of the first.

Second Period

  • McGauley and Barron had a really nice short-handed chance there.
  • That was almost very bad…fortunately, Carr wasn’t going to let that one-on-none get past him.
  • Well, we’re certainly not scoreless from lack of effort from the boys!
  • JUST CALL HIM ROCKET RICHART!! 1-0 Utah!!
  • And just to keep everyone excited, Economos and Crevier-Morin drop the gloves! It’s been a busy first five minutes!
  • With Economos in the box for five minutes, Misiak appears to be taking shifts at forward.
  • OH MAN, if Jack Walker had been facing the other way, that would have been a goal for sure.
  • Uhg. After all that, Wichita ties it up.
  • Cam Reid levels Joey Raats, and we’re off to the power play.

Third Period

  • Walters gets hauled down on a breakaway, and somehow it’s Dzakhov going to the box for interference. That seems…not right. As Adrian Denny used to say, I don’t know about that.
  • Economos to the box for high-sticking. And of course it’s Cam Reid who makes it 2-1.
  • Walters has had some serious chances lately, but he’s just been so snake bitten.
  • Power play time!
  • THE SWEET CARROLL LINE MAKES IT 2-2!!
  • Richart with a really sweet move, but Stuart Skinner is up for the challenge.
  • A series of unfortunate events puts the puck right on Larkin’s stick. 3-2 for Wichita.
  • Henke sure didn’t miss by much on that shot.
  • Pretty sure Ausmus should have gotten a penalty there, but I guess we can call this even for that time where we should have gotten a call earlier!
  • CARROLL SCORES AGAIN TO TIE IT AGAIN. Walters and Raats get the assists!
  • Penalty for the Thunder!
  • To OT we go!!

OT

  • Good possession to open OT on the power play, but nothing doing.
  • JACK WALKER IN OT!!!!!
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 4-3!!

Walker’s OT game winner and assist on Carroll’s first goal earned him the first star of the game, Austin Carroll got second star with his two third period goals, and Taylor Richart, who started the scoring, earned third star honors. Kevin Carr also could have earned one of the stars, especially with his play in the first two periods before the team started scoring. Additionally, both Walker and McGauley had two assists each and were also stand-outs.

“I didn’t even know I scored, really,” Walker said when asked about his goal, “I just came around the net and was actually looking for a pass back-door, and it just kind of happened to find it’s way in, but I’ll take it, and it’s a good two points for the team!”

With just a couple of exceptions, Branham was pleased with his team’s effort. “I thought those first two periods we played pretty well, pretty hockey,” he said, “Bad break there at the end of the second, there was four or five mistakes that led to that goal, we can’t allow that to happen in the last two minutes of the period. And then the third period,  Wichita’s a good team. They are. They’re a good team, they have a good goaltender, we probably could have had five or six goals. The goalie played well, so did ours. Kevin made some big stops there. What can you say? The boys’ resiliency, they never stopped working, there was no panic on the bench. Austin Carroll, big game for him.”

Branham had further words of praise for all three stars of the game. “[Carroll’s] a good player, spent three years in the American League, he knows how to play the game the right way, plays hard, plays physical, he can score goals, he’s got good hands for a big man. Another player I thought played really well today was Taylor Richart. He just had a solid game all around, offensively, defensively, he was really good. And then Jack Walker, he’s really picking it up. He’s becoming a really big part of this team and he’s doing a good job.”

“That was a huge third period.” Carroll himself said, “More than anything, the boys just came together huge. Being down a goal once, coming back, being down a goal again, and coming back, and then Walker there in overtime just to finish it off, it’s a big character win and I know we’re all happy and coaches are happy as well, so it’s a good feeling.”

The Grizzlies will look to carry the momentum from these three wins into their upcoming road trip, where they hope that playing hard and keeping things simple will serve them as well in Cincinnati, Wheeling, and Fort Wayne as it has this week.

 

 

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.