Utah Grizzlies: Winning in Wichita

After the 5-4 OT loss in Kansas City, the Grizzlies went with the same lineup in Wichita, only starting Joe Cannata instead of Kevin Carr. Teigan Zahn wore the captain’s C for the first time this season, while Ryan Walters and Taylor Richart retained their As.

The game did not get off to an auspicious start, with the Thunder snapping a puck past Cannata just 3:42 into the period.

It had looked like the Grizzlies had scored, just under half-way through the period, but the net came loose before the puck passed the line. However, the Utah did get a power play. Though they didn’t capitalize, by the end of the advantage they had out-shot Wichita 11-3.

The rest of the period was fast-paced, but though the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Thunder 13-4, after 20 they still trailed 1-0.

Utah got an early power play in the second, and the most lethal weapon on the league’s most lethal power play struck once more, Caleb Herbert making it 1-1 from Jake Marchment and Cole Ully.

The power play got another look five minutes in, but Austin Carroll took a tripping penalty at 6:39, sending the teams to a brief four-on-four before the Grizzlies killed off the penalty.

Utah got another crack at the advantage, but were unable to draw ahead, and unfortunately after Tim McGauley was denied on the breakaway, Hayden Hodgson gave the Thunder the 2-1 lead.

Matt Berry went to the box less than a minute later, but the period ended with no change in score, Utah out-shooting Wichita 29-16.

Carroll scored at 6:05 of the third, tipping in a bomb from Richart, but Ralph Cuddemi once again gave the Thunder the lead a minute later.

Berry and Jared Wilson took matching roughing calls half-way through the third, and then Zahn took a slashing call. Nothing changed, and no sooner had Zahn stepped out of the box, than he dropped the gloves with Matt Schmalz.

Cuddemi took a hooking call with three to go, and McGauley made Wichita pay, tying the game from Walters and De Jong.

The remainder of regulation time solved nothing, Utah out-shooting the Thunder 41-24. You would have been forgiven for feeling anxiety going into extra time, considering the Grizzlies struggles thus far, but you would have been wrong in this game. John McFarland took a tripping call against Richart, and the power play remained white hot, when Herbert got his second of the night, once more from Ully and Marchment.

Honestly, what is there left to say about Herbert? He’s a scoring machine, and his two goals and ten shots of the game got him first star honors. Richart (initially credited with the tying goal that eventually was awarded to Carroll) was named second star, and appears to be rounding into form, playing what was perhaps his most obviously strong game so far. Jake Marchment appears to be settling in nicely, picking up two assists, and it would appear that McGauley is heating up.

 


 

In a rare morning game, the same two teams squared off once more on Wednesday in Wichita, Utah going with the same roster. The Grizzlies had clearly had their coffee, picking up the first couple of shots. in the opening minutes of the frame.

However, Ryan Walters took a hooking call, and the Thunder went to the power play. The kill remained strong though, and didn’t allow a shot.

Then the game got crazy. To start it all off, Caleb Herbert scored his eleventh for Utah, from Cole Ully and Kevin Davis.

Matt Schmalz answered right back, then Steven Iacobellis scored again for the Thunder. The lead did not last, however, and Tim McGauley tied it up once more.

All that action in less than two minutes!

Greg Chase took a high-sticking minor at 11:18, then tried to goad Ully into joining him in the box, to no avail. Chase also got a roughing call, and Utah got a four minute power play.

The best power play in the league came up empty, and Ralph Cuddemi made them regret it as he sniped one on Joe Cannata to give the Thunder the lead. Pierre-Cedric Labrie took a late tripping call on McGauley, but the period and the advantage came to an end together. Despite out-shooting Wichita 17-9, the Grizzlies remained behind 3-2.

Utah drew a power play at 3:44, but the power play continued to struggle, getting only one shot, and spending some time defending in their own zone. Cannata was up to the challenge though, and the Thunder returned to full strength.

Ryan Misiak and Travis Barron caused some chaos around the Wichita net about half-way through the frame, but neither put the puck past Stuart Skinner.

The Thunder got going in the Utah zone, but Jake Marchment’s line took back possession, and Marchment tied it up on a nice pass from Ryan Walters. Nolan De Jong got the secondary assist.

Barron took a high-sticking penalty with 1:37 to go, but when the period came to an end, the score was still 3-3, shots 29-18 for the Grizzlies.

1:23 into the third, Ully’s speed drew a tripping call. However, the unusual power play struggles of this game continued.

Another furious spate of action saw first Travis Brown making it 4-3 through a screen, then just 22 seconds later, De Jong scored his first of the season from Davis and Ryan Misiak, giving them both their second assists.

Ully took a cross-checking minor at 6:11, but on the next face-off, Iacobellis took a call, and the teams played four-on-four for 1:55.

Around the eight minute mark, the Grizzlies got some good offensive zone pressure, picking up four straight shots, unfortunately, the Captains tangled in front of the Utah net, and Teigan Zahn got an interference call for putting Dyson Stevenson into the net.

With just 1:55 to go, Marchment got his second of the game, and that’s how it ended.

Utah out-shot Wichita (known for giving up a lot of shots) 40-23, and picked up their second win against the Thunder.

Unlike in Sunday’s game, the power play really struggled, going 0/6, an giving up a couple of good looks to the penalty killers. However, it gave the Grizzlies an opportunity to get it done at even strength, which they certainly did. It was also great to see the secondary scoring come alive, as every line contributed at least one goal, and multiple players not named Caleb Herbert had multi-point games.

Misiak had one of his best games of the year, picking up two assists, and third star honors, Marchment, of course, had the two goals, including the game winner, which got him first star, while De Jong had a goal and an assist, Walters had two assists, as did Kevin Davis.

Then, of course, there is Herbert, who just hasn’t cooled down. He now has 18 points in ten games, and has only been held off the scoreboard once, in Utah’s lone regulation loss this season. He leads the league now in both goals (11) and points.

Whatever struggles the Grizzlies have had in keeping the puck out of their own net have been more then compensated for by their offense.

Utah plays Wichita once more on Friday before returning home.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

Utah Grizzlies: Road Trip Woes

Friday night’s game was, in a word, disjointed.

Ryan Misiak was placed on reserve as the Grizzlies, Jake Marchment made his Grizzlies debut after returning to the team from San Diego, and Joe Cannata got the start against the Indy Fuel.

Teigan Zahn and Anthony Collins dropped the gloves just four minutes in, then the Fuel took a penalty less than a minute later. Utah was unable to make anything of it before Matt Berry took a slashing call, and sent the teams to some four-on-four time.

Indy prevented the Grizzlies from getting any kind of flow going, laying down hits any time a Utah player got any kind of speed going, and just generally looking like the more efficient team. It paid off for them at 14:07 when Robert Powers opened the scoring.

Austin Carroll did answer in the dying seconds of the first with his first of the year from Cole Ully and Nolan De Jong, but that was the only goal the Grizzlies would muster.

The second period did not begin well, the Fuel making it 2-1 just 42 seconds in. Utah got a power play chance about a minute later, but it almost ended in disaster as both Ully and Caleb Herbert got hit, leading to a three-on-one short-handed. Fortunately, Cannata turned that aside.

Things didn’t get better after that either, as Berry was given Utah’s first face-off violation penalty of the season at 3:30.

The Grizzlies took another questionable penalty at 5:36, and though initially they did a good job killing it off, Herbert even getting a couple of beautiful chances short-handed, a weird bounce made it 3-1.

The third didn’t see a lot of action in the early stages, and though Indy’s Connor Moynihan took a high-sticking call shortly past the half-way mark, Utah couldn’t capitalize.

Branham pulled Cannata with well over two minutes to go, and things looked promising when Herbert drew a penalty, but there would be no comeback. Matt Rupert scored his second of the game into the empty net, and the Grizzlies suffered their first loss of the season.

It was an uncharacteristic game from top to bottom, and while we did see flashes of the performances we’ve come to expect, it was easily the team’s worst outing of the season.


 

There was a bit of a switch up in the roster for Saturday’s game, with Misiak drawing back in, and Brendan Harms taking a seat while Kevin Carr got the start against the Kansas City Mavericks.

Herbert got right back to his scoring ways, making it 1-0 at 3:49 from Kevin Davis and Travis Barron. Ully drew a penalty on the very next shift, but though Taylor Richart got a couple of big shots off, the Mavs killed it off.

Misiak took a holding call at 8:21, but Utah killed it off thanks to a couple of quick saves from Carr. The remainder of the period was fairly uneventful until C.J. Eick’s speed scooted him in past the Utah defensemen, and he tied it up with 1:15 to go.

The Mavericks sped up after that, but the period came to an end with the 1-1 tie, Kansas City out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-7.

The opening moments of the second were a little sloppy from Utah, with the result that Kansas City got the first three shots, and Carr came up big several times.

The Grizzlies drew a power play, and after a little blip that saw the Mavericks in the offensive zone, Carroll extended his scoring streak to two games on assists from Herbert and Ully.

In an absolute scrum, the Mavericks made it 3-2, Teigan Zahn and Jordan Klimek dropped the gloves, before Kansas City scored again on a clean shot.

However, Richart picked the perfect moment to score his first of the year, tying it up once more at 8:17. Herbert picked up his third point of the game, while Berry got the second assist.

Utah got another look on the power play half-way through the period, but were unable to draw ahead on the advantage. Both teams got away with what probably should have been penalties before Berry was sent to the box for tripping with almost exactly two minutes left in the frame.

Ryan Walters took a high-sticking call with 30 seconds left, but the Berry penalty and the period came to an end together with no change in score, Mavs out-shooting Utah 25-18.

Utah began the third with 1:30 remaining on Walters’ penalty, which they killed off fairly comfortably.

Jake Marchment scored his first goal of the season at 3:51 to give Utah the 4-3 lead from Tim McGauley and Turner Ottenbreiti, but because that’s just the way the game went, the Mavericks tied it up again at 7:27. That’s how things remained for the rest of regulation, and because Herbert took a hooking call as time expired, the Grizzlies began OT on the kill.

Utah killed off the penalty in what was definitely their best OT showing so far, but it wasn’t enough, and Mark Cooper got the game winner.

It was a much better outing than the game against Indy, but though earning a point is certainly better than nothing, the Grizzlies inability to get it done in overtime is frustrating.

Herbert got the third star of the game with a goal and two assists, and Berry deserves an honorable mention with five shots and an assist. Carroll also continues to look good, all of which will hopefully continue and culminate in a win in Wichita.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: Picking Up Points

After Friday night’s win, the lineup remained more or less the same, the only change being Joe Cannata in for Kevin Carr.

Utah got off to a brisk start, and then the game settled down into a pretty steady back and forth affair between the two teams. The Grizzlies picked up three of the first four shots as the refs kept their whistles firmly in their pockets.

Travis Barron had a glorious chance at about the half-way mark practically in the blue paint, but just missed putting the puck in under the top bar.

Utah allowed zone time, but they didn’t allow many shots at all, out-shooting Idaho 5-1 through the first fourteen minutes.

The period was fairly uneventful overall, shots ending 6-2 for the Grizzlies, who did a good job keeping Idaho to the perimeter or getting in the way of shots in their own zone.

Excellent defense fell apart a bit to start the second, and the game got pretty eventful in a hurry, as Cole Ully took the first penalty of the game, Joe Pendenza scored, and then the Ully drew a penalty, and Pendenza went to the box, all in the first three minutes.

The Steelheads made up the shot difference through out the second, as Utah allowed a few odd-man rushes, but they did eventually begin to push back, thanks to one of those increasingly familiar rushes led by Caleb Herbert and Austin Carroll.

With about twelve minutes to go, both the Steelheads and the Grizzlies kept Cannata and Philippe Desrosiers busy, and then Ully drew yet another power play.

The league’s best power play went to work then, cycling and getting a couple of looks before Tim McGauley scored as he fell, pouncing on Matt Berry’s rebound to tie it up.

Utah came alive at that point,  peppering Desrosiers on the shifts that followed, and Herbert drew another penalty with just under six minutes in the period. However, they were unable to capitalize, and Cannata had to make a couple of big saves.

A little of the usual animosity bubbled over with 2:14 to go in the second, and a crowd gathered around Desrosiers, but nothing came of it.

The Steelheads took the 2-1 lead six minutes into the third, but Herbert returned the favor to tie it up just over a minute later. His seventh of the year went into a wide open net from Ully and Carroll.

Through the remainder of the game, Utah put up eleven shots to Idaho’s four, but despite a penalty to Herbert at 15:53, neither team was able to pull ahead. So, for the second time of the season, the Grizzlies and Steelheads went to overtime.

Idaho played a far more aggressive game three-on-three, and it paid off for them, Brad McClure scoring the game winner at 2:29.

It was a disappointing outcome, but the Grizlies are still an impressive 4-0-2 this year, picking up points in every contest thus far.

Herbert’s seventh goal of the season earned him the second star, while Tim McGauley nabbed third with his second goal.

When asked to talk again about Herbert, Tim Branham said, “He’s a special player. Colorado knew he was, that’s why they wanted to get him under contract, he’s proven why he’s had so much success in this league. He’s got good line-mates too, and I’m sure they all like playing together. Every game that line has been extremely dangerous, and for good reason. They work hard, they’ve got a lot of talent, and they want it really bad.”

In addition to the Ully-Herbert-Carroll line, Matt Berry was noticeable as well, especially in the early going, picking up four shots through the game

Overall, Branham was pleased with his team’s efforts in the season thus far. “I thought we had another good start. I mean, that’s a good team over there. They’re down that they’ve had to play us four times in a row. We’re a tough team. They’re a good team too, so some bad things are bound to happen when you play a good team four times in a row. I thought we played a good game. Come the second period we started getting three forwards caught low in the offensive zone, they had a few odd-man rushes, our D didn’t move the puck quick enough to our forwards, but it’s gonna happen. We’ve got a young D core, we’ve played a really good team four times in a row.I’m proud of the boys. I thought they played really well. ”

He also shared the mindset the team has adopted We’re splitting the season into six game segments, and we got ten out of a possible twelve points in our first six game segment. We still have a zero in the loss column, and we’re happy with the way things are going. Now we go out on the road and play some different teams.”

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff

Utah Grizzlies: A Good Thing

With four games behind them, Utah saw a bit of an injection of new blood in their third game against the Steelheads. Travis Barron (forward) and Nolan De Jong (defense), newly arrived from Colorado, both drew into the lineup, Barron taking the place of the injured Josh Winquist. The Grizzlies went with nine forwards and seven defensemen, and Kevin Carr got the start.

Utah took an early penalty as Ryan Walters went to the box for hooking, but the Grizzlies killed it off handily, allowing no shots on the disadvantage. De Jong got his first shot of the game, but though Austin Carroll mixed it up with a few Steelheads by the Idaho net, the first half of the period was fairly uneventful.

Unfortunately, in a scrambly shift, the Steelheads struck first Steven McParland getting the opening goal. Utah got a number of good looks, including a gorgeous pass from Caleb Herbert to Cole Ully, but though they put up an 8-1 shot advantage by the 11 minute mark, they continued to trail.

However, at 12:42, McParland took a hooking call of his own, and Ully wasted no time, making it one all at 13:32 from Carroll and Kevin Davis.

Utah played a very defensively responsible game, allowing only three shots through the period, all while picking up 13 of their own.

Utah came out hot to start the second, spending the first minute in the offensive zone.

Carroll and Herbert flew in on a two-on-none about five minutes into the second, but Philippe Desrosiers stopped the puck, and everyone went crashing into the net.

The third time was the charm though, as they say, and only a few minutes later, Herbert and Carroll got a two-on-one. This time, Herbert made no mistake at all.

Unfortunately, Idaho scored on the very next shift to tie it up again.

The Grizzlies had a a few defensive bobbles through the first half of the second, but always managed to come out in the right spot to prevent danger.

The first line continued to be absolutely white hot, as Herbert nonchalantly came around the back of the Idaho net, passed the puck to Ully, and picked up the primary assist on the absolute rocket Ully unleashed for his second of the game.

Idaho tried to mix things up a little next to Carr, despite Teigan Zahn standing right next to him, which led to four roughing calls on Zahn, Josh Anderson, Elgin Pearce, and Keegan Kanzig with about four to go.

At the end of the period, Barron and Jeff King decided they’d had enough, and got into a furious scuffle by the Utah bench that saw them both get roughing calls to start the third.

The third period saw the Grizzlies tighten up defensively again. After allowing 13 shots in the second, they allowed only eight in the third. Both teams played with more intensity, the dislike that always springs up between these two teams making itself known. Although it didn’t erupt into any official fights.

Carroll got crosschecked at 11:56, and the Grizzlies went to the advantage, but were unable to add to their lead. Idaho pulled Desrosiers with just under 1:30 to go, and called their time out at 1:19.

Utah attempted multiple chances at the empty net, including a bid by Ully for the hat trick, and in the last thirty seconds, Carr saved the lead in a mad scramble around the net.

When the final buzzer sounded, Utah once again held on to the lead, picking up yet another win.

Though they had some struggles in the second period, the team’s over all defensive effort stood out.

“Honestly, I think it’s just defending fast and getting the puck out of our zone as quick as we can,” said Ully. “If we get caught out there, is when they start getting looks but if we can make one simple play, get it off the glass, or whatever it takes to get it out, and then kind of pressure them and let them make the mistakes, that’s what we did in the third tonight. We didn’t sit back like we did the first night there in Idaho. They didn’t get too many looks, and obviously it frustrates a team when you can do that.”

Not only did the defense deliver tonight, but the offense shows no signs of stopping, as Ully and Herbert continue to put themselves on the score-sheet.

“What can you say about Herbert, Ully, and it doesn’t matter what player we put on there.” Tim Branham said of the potent first line, “Carroll’s on that line tonight, and he played a heck of a game, you know, those guys are leading the way.”

Ully’s assist and two goals nabbed him first star of the game against his former team, while Herbert, who has picked up at least one goal in every game, was named second star. Carroll picked up the third on the strength of three assists.

“Really proud of the way the boys clamped down there, I challenged them again between the second and third to play the right way like we did up in Idaho. We played the whole third period in their end. We understand what kind of team we have, and we’re finding ways to win because we’re a good hockey team. Then you put on top of that our goal tending, it’s a good thing.”

The Grizzlies have yet to lose in regulation, picking up nine of a possible ten points in the first five games. A good thing indeed.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: Holding On

In game two of the road trip, the roster remained the same, with the exception of the goalies, as Kevin Carr got his first start of the year. The lines did see a slight reconfiguration, as Matt Berry moved onto the line with Ryan Misiak and Tim McGauley, while Austin Carroll took his place with Brendan Harms and Ryan Walters.

Idaho came out hot, drawing the a power play less than a minute in. Utah killed it off well though, Carr making the two necessary saves. Things calmed down for a bit, until Caleb Herbert flew into the offensive zone, split the D, and then scored on a gorgeous backhander to make it 1-0.

Harms got a look alone as well, but passed back to Carroll, who was unable to get off a shot.

The Grizzlies picked up a power play at 10:06, and the potent first unit pounced again, making it 2-0 half way through the period. Utah got another power play at 15:22, but weren’t able to pick up another goal.

The first period ended with a big crowd as Berry took exception to a hit, and Carroll and Taylor Richart flew in. As a result, Berry, Carroll, and Brady Norrish all took roughing calls.

The Grizzlies comfortably killed off the early penalty kill, allowing only one shot, and getting a great short-handed look for Harms and Walters.

Utah got a look of their own on the power play 3:34 in, but disaster struck when Winquist collided with an Idaho player and went down hard, having to be helped off the ice. Out of all that, he was assessed a penalty too, served by Herbert, and didn’t return. Less than a minute later, tempers continued to flair and McGauley dropped the gloves with Jeff King.

Misiak and Herbert got in two-on-none right as the later emerged from the penalty box, but somehow he managed to get an interference call, and was sent straight back to the bin.

The Grizzlies only allowed two shots, and no sooner was Herbert freed than Teigan Zahn and Keegan Kanzig dropped the gloves at 8:28.

Cole Ully and Alexander Dahl took matching minors with about eight to go, and the teams played four-on-four. Kevin Davis drew a high-sticking call at 15:17, and Carr had to make a spectacular save on Justin Parizek who got in alone short-handed.

No sooner had the Steelheads returned to full strength than they took a delay-of-game penalty. Unfortunately, Parizek got a short-handed goal 11 seconds later.

The period once again ended in chaos.

Except for the first shift, Idaho dominated the first five minutes of the third, eventually forcing Carroll into a penalty. Fortunately, Utah killed it off.

Idaho continued to run play till the ten minute mark, after which things evened out a little.  Though the Steelheads spend a lot of time in the offensive zone, Utah did do a decent job of keeping the puck away from the net.

It was a fairly uneventful period in general, with just the one penalty, and eight shots (Idaho 6, Utah 2), as Idaho played largely in the offensive zone, but Utah kept them from doing anything dangerous with all their time.

With 1:20 to go, Idaho once again pulled their goalie and called a time out, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Grizzlies were the 2-1 victors.

Herbert, who still leads the league in points, was the game’s first star, while Carr’s 27/28 saves were good for third star.

The Good

  • Once again, Herbert was terrific, picking up his fifth goal in four games.
  • The power play continues to click (mostly), with Winquist getting yet another power play tally, even though they only capitalized on one of five chances.
  • Davis is a force to be reckoned with, both offensively and defensively.
  • Utah is 3-0-0-1 in the first four games of the year, picking up seven of a possible eight points in that time.

The Bad

  • Utah had only two shots in the third, and spent quite a lot of the period in their own zone. However, they only allowed eight shots against, and did a good job keeping Idaho away from Carr, so this is a bit of a wash.
  • Utah allowed two short-handed goals to Idaho this weekend, which isn’t great.

The Ugly

  • Winquist played only four minutes of the second period before leaving the game with a lower body injury. If he’s out for any amount of time, it could be a big loss for the Grizzlies, as he is their second most prolific point producer, and is relied upon in all situations.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.