In game two of the season and the set in Rapid City, the Grizzlies iced the same crew, though the lines and pairings saw some shuffling. Peyton Jones once again got the start.
The start of the game was more measured than Friday’s match, both teams doing a lot of passing, and neither team holding onto possession more than the other until about the four minute mark. Utah held onto the puck for large parts of a shift, and eventually drew the game’s first power play, but didn’t capitalize.
The Rush struck first following their return to full strength, but Utah didn’t let them rest on their laurels, Brayden Gelsinger scoring his first of the year from Diego Cuglietta and Charlie Gerard.
The ice started to tilt in Utah’s favor heading into the last six minutes of the period, the Grizzlies spending several minutes in the offensive zone. However, with three to go, the Rush pushed back, penning the Grizzlies in their own zone for the last minute. Utah narrowly escaped a goal into a gaping net, but fortunately for them, the Rapid City shooter whiffed on the shot.
At the end of 20, however, shots favored Utah 13-7 with the score tied 1-1. Interestingly, while the Grizzlies put up a decent amount of shots, only Gelsinger had more than one.
Gendron got hit along the boards about three minutes in, and was slow to get up, but he remained on the bench. Utah struggled to get anything going, but both teams found themselves missing passes and scrambling for pucks.
By the ten minute mark, Rapid City had outshot the Grizzlies 6-3 in the period. As the final five minutes of the period approached, Utah got more zone time, overtaking the shot lead 11-9 by the end. It was a very quiet period, and lacked cohesion, neither team possessing the puck for prolonged periods of time.
Matt Abt took a hooking call at 3:16, but just three seconds later off the face-off, Tyler Coulter took an interference call to kill the Rush advantage.
At 8:18 Gelsinger set up a nice pass to Cuglietta, who wired it past David Tendeck for his first goal of the season. Gelsinger’s assist gave him a goal and an assist as well.
Shortly thereafter, with a mess of players in front of the net, Michael McNicholas and a couple of other guys in the slot started celebrating as play got called. The officials reviewed it, and it was, indeed, a good goal, McNicholas getting his first goal of the year from Tanner Jago.
The Rush took a penalty at 16:40, but killed it off and pulled their goalie with 30 seconds to go. Utah held on though, taking the game 3-1, shots 34-22 in their favor.
If last night was the Paré, Gendron, Wegwerth show, tonight definitely belonged to Cuglietta and Gelsinger who both got a goal and an assist, Cuglietta’s holding up for the game winner. Jones got his first pro win, and another standout included Garrett Johnston, who definitely comes as advertised, and was a steady, skilled presence on the blue line. McNicholas and Gerard both led the team with 4 shots, while Gendron, Gelsinger, and Besinger all had three.
While the game wasn’t maybe as exciting as Friday’s from a sheer goals perspective, it was great to see the Grizzlies respond, and to see other players step up and show what they’ve got, especially since this early in the year, most of us still don’t know what to expect from this team.
Utah won’t be in action again until next weekend, when they will welcome the Tulsa Oilers to town.
First Period: Gelsinger (Cuglietta, Gerard)
Second Period: None
Third Period: Cuglietta (Gelsinger, Lepowski), McNicholas (Jago)
Image courtesy of Tim Broussard.