Utah Grizzlies: No Signs of Stopping

Going into the season, we knew in theory that Utah was going to be an offensive power house, and that it wouldn’t just be one guy carrying the team. Through out the season so far, they’ve showed that to a certain extent, but they always had Caleb Herbert blazing the way. So with Herbert and Travis Barron called up to the AHL, it wasn’t so much a question of whether or not the Grizzlies would continue to to score, but who would pick up the slack, and whether it would be enough.

The answer was a resounding yes.

With Herbert and Barron gone, R.T. Rice and Brendan Harms both drew back in, while Kevin Carr got the start.

Utah came out hot, getting a power play at 1:19. Matt Berry was a man on a mission from the moment the puck dropped, and made it 1-0 on the advantage, with an assist from Kevin Davis.

Less than five minutes later, as if determined to prove that the Grizzlies wouldn’t miss his line-mate Herbert, Austin Carroll took a beautiful pass from Gage Ausmus behind Wichita’s net, and made no mistake, putting the puck past a sprawling Dylan Wells. Ryan Walters got the secondary assist.

Less than a minute after that, Wichita took another penalty, Pierre-Cedric Labrie going to the box for interference, but Utah got nothing going.

It didn’t really matter though. Not only did the Grizzlies play well in the offensive zone, but they took care of Carr, keeping the Thunder to just two shots while picking up ten of their own through the first twelve minutes or so.

And they were just getting started.

At 13:40, Tim McGauley threw the puck at the net, and Berry got his second of the period. The goal saw the end of Wells’ night, and Stuart Skinner took over in net.

While the offense was clicking, the defense kept things under control in their end. Taylor Richart was especially noticeable towards the end of the first, blocking shots and gotting in the way of passes. Carr also was sharp, making three flashy glove saves in a row as the game progressed into the final four minutes of the frame.

After 20, the Grizzlies had a strong 3-0 lead, and had played as good a period of hockey as they had all season.

The second did not get off to a good start, though, as Carroll took a high-sticking call just 16 seconds in, and Ralph Cuddemi made it 3-1. Then Labrie boarded Nolan De Jong. Utah got a five minute power play. De Jong skated off under his own power, but didย  not return.

The man advantage wasn’t really able to get anything going as Wichita was very aggressive on the kill through the first two minutes. As they approached the three minute mark of the power play, Utah established a good offensive zone cycle, but though they got a number of shots, they couldn’t capitalize.

After the lengthy power play, the Grizzlies pressed hard, and drew yet another man advantage at 8:33. Cole Ully sniped one past Skinner for his fourth goal of the year from Davis and Jake Marchment to put Utah up 4-1.

Unfortunately, Berry took a holding call less than a minute later. Wichita kept Carr pretty busy, as they put up seven shots on their power play and in the minutes that followed. Carr was up to the task, however, which was especially important when Teigan Zahn took a delay of game penalty with 5:11 to go. The Grizzlies allowed only one shot on their Captain’s minor, and closed out the period still up 4-1, out-shooting the Thunder 25-18.

Wichita came out hot to start the third, and cut the lead in half as Jeremy Beaudry beat Carr at 1:38.

Ully was hauled down on the breakaway at 3:31, and was awarded a penalty shot. The Grizzlies’ second leading scorer beat Skinner handily on a nice shot, and re-established the three goal lead.

Unfortunately, Greg Chase made it 5-3 nearly half-way through the period, but the Grizzlies kept their foot on the pedal. Berry was especially noticeable, getting three good shots in the middle stages of the third.

With about seven left in the game, Ryan Misiak also went to the locker room and didn’t return, putting the Grizzlies down both De Jong and Misiak.

Carroll got a tripping call shortly thereafter and a crowd gathered. Once the dust had settled, Carroll had collected a roughing call, but had taken Cuddemi with him. Rice served Carroll’s initial tripping call, and Utah killed it off thanks to a good effort from Jake Marchment and the penalty killers.

Wichita pressured hard in the final three minutes, pulling Skinner with about 1:30 to go, but Marchment put the game to bed with an empty netter from just around center ice.

At the final buzzer of the 6-3 win, Utah had out-shot the Thunder 37-28, and four players had multi-point games. Leading the way in that department were Ully (named first star of the game with two goals and five shots, and now with points in seven straight games) and Berry (second star with two goals and a team-leading seven shots).

Carroll also has points in seven straight games, Davis picked up two assists for the second straight night, Marchment, who has points in all four games since he returned, had his third straight multi-point game, and Carr stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced, improving to 3-0-1 on the year. Moreover, the power play remains lethal, clocking in at an impressive 30.2%, still easily the best in the league, and converting on two of their four chances in the game.

Utah returns home 3-1-1 (7-1-3-0 on the season) where they will take on the Fuel on Wednesday night.

 

 

 

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: A Wild One

Utah hit the road for the first time this regular season, facing off against familiar foes in the Idaho Steelheads. There were a few changes to the roster, as Gage Ausmus did not dress, and Joey Raats drew in for the first time this year, as did Josh Anderson.

The Grizzlies elected to go with nine forwards, with Raats lining up as the tenth forward or extra defenseman when necessary.

Utah got off to a quick start following the face-off, and kept the pedal down through the first five minutes, getting nine of the first ten shots, and Idaho not getting their first shot till pretty much the six minute mark.

The hard work paid off, and couldn’t have happened to a better guy as Brendan Harms picked up his first of the year from Matt Berry to put the Grizz up 1-0 at 7:44.

Spencer Naas beat out Joe Cannata a few minutes later as the puck popped up into the air, and Naas batted it into the net before Utah’s defense was able to locate it.

Utah’s lethal power play struck about thirty seconds into a too many men minor, Josh Winquist scoring his third goal in three games from Cole Ully.

Ully took a penalty at 14:47, but Connor Chatham took a blatant holding call about thirty seconds in, though it ultimately came to nothing. At the end of the first shots were 17-6 for Utah, who maintained their 2-1 lead.

The Grizzlies came flying out of the gate, drawing a holding call 18 seconds in, but the power play struggled, allowing two really good looks. Cannata was sharp though, and remained so through the first half of the period when Idaho got three of the period’s four shots.

Turner Ottenbreit and Eric Sweetman got into it at 11:18, Ottenbreit more or less tackling Sweetman to the ice, and no sooner had play recommenced than Utah got a power play. Ully once again made a terrific play, setting up Ryan Walters for his second of the year at 12:12. Teigan Zahn took a penalty on the shift afterย that, but Utah killed it off, Walters looking threatening two-on-one.

The two teams battled hard through the remainder of the period, but other than a huge Cannata save on a Chatham breakaway, and a drawn power play by Austin Carroll, the period came to an end without much ado.

The Grizzlies opened with 45 seconds of power play time, but the wheels fell off the bus, and Idaho drew within one short-handed after a lackadaisical defensive effort, then gave up another to tie it up less than two minutes in.

After the disastrous opening 1:16, Utah settled down, and Ully made it 4-1 with assists from Caleb Herbert and Winquist.

The game, now practically even in shots and goals, saw neither team able to sustain offensive zone time.

With four to go, Walters took an unfortunate delay of game penalty, and six seconds later, the Steelheads made it 4-4.

It looked like had Utah scored themselves out of trouble once again as Herbert added a goal to his two assists. However, with 1:35 to go, Idaho pulled Ryan Faragher, and Brad McClure scored with 43 seconds to go. The Grizzlies protested mightily, feeling that Chatham had interfered with Cannata, but though the refs gathered to discuss it, the goal stood.

Winquist, Carroll, and Taylor Richart began OT for Utah, and and ended it as well, as Carroll lost the puck to Joe Pendenza for the game winning goal.

The Good

Cole Ully has been terrific in all three games so far, but he was especially noticeable all game, picking up a goal and two big assists.

The power play just keeps clicking with two goals, with Herbert (4G, 4A), Winquist (3G, 3A), and Ully (1G, 4A) leading the way. Walters, also on the first power play unit, has two goals and three assists in the first three games as well. Utah’s potent offense was almost enough to score themselves out of trouble.

Utah was absolutely dominant in the first period, and has now picked up five of a possible six standings points in the first three games.

The Bad

After the first, Idaho took over, out-shooting Utah 24-9 in the last two periods. The Grizzlies were nearly able to hold on, but some sloppy defensive play ended up costing them.

The Ugly

Without doubt, the 1:16 to start the third was appalling.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.