Utah Grizzlies vs Rapid City: Fight, Score, Celly

Day 155 of the regular season and we’re still playing the Rapid City Rush. However, despite the billionth meeting of these two teams, there were some changes in the roster. Joey Ratelle (signed at the beginning of the year) finally made his Utah debut, Jake Marchment was once again out with an injury, and Joey Raats was a healthy scratch. Joe Cannata got the start for Utah, and on the other end of the ice, their arch-nemesis Adam Carlson.

First Period

  • Longest first shift in the history of ever.
  • Will Smith looking to stay hot on his first shift of the game.
  • Tyler Poulsen puts the puck through Gage Ausmus and Joe Cannata to put the Rush up 1-0.
  • Not even five minutes in, and already there’s some cantankerousness.
  • Cole Ully doing Cole Ully things.
  • Oh no…that’s exactly how Ratelle got hurt the first time this year…He’s certainly endeared himself to the fans though!
  • Point blank chance for Eric Freschi
  • Both teams playing with a fair bit of nastiness so far, certainly more than we saw in their past games against each other.
  • Freschi’s made some pretty nifty moves tonight, and the night is young.
  • Speaking of nifty, that was a great piece of stick work from Ausmus to take possession of the puck.
  • That was some really nice passing from Freschi and Jack Walker there.
  • That being said, please go spend some extended time in the offensive zone…
  • Pretty sure everyone on both sides moved before that puck got dropped, haha!
  • Well. That’s not good. 2-0 with five to go.
  • Turner Ottenbreit lays a huge hit and gets two for elbowing, leading to the first power play of the night.
  • You know that thing I said about cantankerousness? We’re definitely past “some”.
  • I’m not sure I have ever seen a full line brawl live before. The penalty box is gonna get PREEEETTTY full. Teigan Zahn and Gabriel Verpaelst get five each for fighting, Taylor Crunk gets two for slashing, two for instigating, and five for fighting, and Liam Bilton gets five for fighting.
  • Well. That was…eventful.
  • 2-0 RC, shots 19-7 in their favor.

Second Period

  • Utah opens with two full minutes of power play time, and a minute of five-on-three.
  • That opening power play goes the way of many opening of period power plays. That is to say, nowhere.
  • If nothing else, they got Carlson moving shortly afterwards I guess.
  • Zahn just led a really nice up-ice rush that culminated in a mad scramble around Carlson.
  • Mitch Maxwell with a speedy wrap-around attempt. Shots are now a far better 19-14.
  • More importantly, possession is much improved, and they’re skating hard.
  • Ottenbreit and Caleb Herbert get a really nice chance short handed.
  • MAXWELL WITH THE SHORTY.

  • Utah’s taken over the shot clock, 20-19 with 10:36 to go.
  • If RC had actually managed to pull off that stick toss, it would have been impressive. Illegal, but impressive.
  • VERBEAUTY. TIE GAME.
  • Walker does NOT look like a guy who’s been out for a month and a half with a leg injury.
  • Freschi and Walker get a glorious short-handed chance.
  • Another whistle, another scuffle. Michael Economos and and Garrett Klotz to the box.
  • ECONOMOS WITH THE SNIPE.

  • 3-2 UTAH as Economos positively flew out of the box! Great feed from Zahn too.
  • Carlson starting to look human over there.
  • Everyone falls over each other from both teams. Ice is slippery, don’tcha know!
  • Shots are 20-7 for Utah in the period.
  • The Grizzlies OWNED the second.

Third Period

  • Every time someone blocks a Verpaelst shot, I wince a little.
  • The way Ully just makes space for himself is so effortless.
  • Good start to the period for the boys.
  • I DON’T BELIEVE IT. IT WENT IN. O CAPTAIN OUR CAPTAIN.
  • Free chili for all.
  • Ok, please get back to playing mostly in the offensive zone.
  • Please stop icing the puck…
  • And again…
  • At this rate, we’re gonna have to crack out the Herb Brooks “again” gif. (Only this is not the sort of thing he’d have wanted over and over and over and over…)
  • You know that thing I said about Verpaelst’s shots at the beginning of the period? That.
  • I haven’t really mentioned him so far this game, but Cannata’s been good.
  • Freschi’s been very good this game.
  • BIG save from Cannata!
  • Rush net is empty with 2:30 to go.
  • ECONOMOS INTO THE EMPTY NET!!!
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 5-2!!! And they out-shot RC 34-33 in the end, Cannata going 31/33.

Economos’ two goals and assist earned him first star of the game, while Maxwell (1G, 1A) and Zahn (1G, 1A) took second and third stars. Walters’ assist was his 300th professional point.

“We earned this one.” Tim Branham said after the game. “I didn’t think we were that bad in the first to be honest. We passed up on a lot of scoring opportunities to only get five shots. I thought we had more chances than that. They worked hard, they worked for their bounces that period. Then between the first and second we talked about how enough was enough, we need to out play them and out work them like we did that last third period. The boys came out and took control. Five-on-three, our five-on-three hasn’t been good all year to be honest, I think we’ve maybe scored one, but we got one on the power play, and our penalty kill was huge, and we got one short-handed. So specialty teams was huge, specialty teams has been huge this whole series, and tonight it worked in our favor.”

As has been the case in the last few games, the Grizzlies’ secondary scoring has come through. “It’s huge,” said Branham. “Really, I just rolled the lines there for a while with our ten forwards so I don’t really what was our first, second, and third line, but to get that secondary scoring you’re talking about, it’s huge. Come playoff time, teams are going to be keying in on our top guys, and our second and third line are the ones that gotta to carry the load. Third lines win championships.”

“It’s huge” Economos said of Maxwell’s goal. “When you get a short-handed goal and things aren’t going your way it was something that really sparked us. We just talked about working hard and that’s what we did tonight. It was nothing fancy really about that game out of us tonight, it was just working hard, crashing the net, getting in front of Carlson’s eyes cause he’s been red hot against us, so it was really big for us.”

He was, predictably modest about his own game winner.

“It was just right place at right time. Zahner just happened to look up at the perfect time when I was getting out of the box. The boys were joking with me that I wasn’t trying to go five-hole, and honestly I wasn’t,” he said with a laugh, “But you know sometimes when you miss it works out. Finally a bounce went our way, and it was great to see that go in.”

Military night is always popular in Utah, and Saturday was no exception with 9,237 in attendance, and they made a difference. “It was amazing. Any time there’s a hit, any time there’s a fight, any time there’s a goal, it was just electric in there. Sometimes you don’t hear the crowd because you’re so into the game, but tonight they were a factor, and they definitely gave us some life out there.”

The difference between the Grizzlies’ first period and second and third couldn’t have been more stark. “I think we just said that we got that out of the way. It’s been chippy against them every time we’ve played them, so we kind of got that out of the way and were just able to focus on our game. They might have still been in that mentality of just trying to get in fights and pushing and shoving, and we just wanted to get in front of the goalie’s eyes, put it on net every single time we could, it was great for us.”

The Grizzlies face the Rush for the fourteenth and (thankfully) final time on Monday.

 

 

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Maxwell (Ottenbreit) (SH), Verpaelst (Herbert, Henke) (PP), Economos (Richart, Zahn)
  • Third Period: Zahn (Economos, Smith), Economos (Maxwell, Walters) (EN)

UTA: 1/5 (29 PIM)
RC: 0/5 (39 PIM)

 

Photo courtesy of Josh Pinnau.

 


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Utah Grizzlies: Don’t Stop Believing

What a ride it’s been.

What a roller coaster of standings points and emotions, of injuries and triumphs this season has been. For every year, and every team, there’s always a narrative. Every regular season has a story. For the 2016-17 Utah Grizzlies, the narrative was confidence.

“We’re very confident.” Phil Pietroniro said in mid January. “We’ve got enough time to move up, and I think teams know we’re on the move. I really think we’re going to get there,” and he was just one voice among many with the same message.

Confidence in the face of adversity. Confidence in the face of one long grind of a season, punctuated with bright stretches of terrific winning streaks and dazzling performances, bracketed by bad bounces, tough losses, and an endless litany of injuries.

There was never any bravado, just a calm certainty that they had what it would take to fight their way into a playoff spot.

From the coach on out, even in the deepest, darkest depths of an awful November and a patchy December, this team believed. Even when it got bad.

And boy did it ever get bad. The Grizzlies went 9-16-1-1 before Christmas, including a nine-game losing streak between November 18th and December 4th that saw them nosedive from atop the Mountain Division to well out of the playoffs.

There were games where they played well, and couldn’t buy a bounce or a goal, games where the hockey gods seemed to mock them as opposing goalies made impossible save after impossible save. Of course, there was the occasional game where the entire team was terrible, but every team has those, and despite everything, those games remained the exception rather than the rule.

On January 6th, the Grizzlies were 14 points out of a playoff spot with key pieces like Erik Higby and Colin Martin out of the lineup with injuries. But they still hadn’t given up.

That’s when the season turned around, though things certainly didn’t get any easier.

On January 21st Utah was at the front end of a seven-game winning streak, only to have their blue line decimated by injury. By mid February, they were only three points out, but had only three healthy defensemen in the lineup. Yet they never packed it in, despite some overwhelming adversity. Forwards played defense, defenders played forward, and Tim Branham rebuilt nearly all of his blue line, and parts of his forward group on the fly.

In March they’d clawed back to within five of Alaska, only to be seemingly derailed by a brutal home stand against Colorado. But they pulled themselves together, and proceeded to win six of the next seven games.

Whether it was in individual games – like the one in Rapid City where Ralph Cuddemi scored two goals in less than a minute to force overtime in January, the brutal short-handed victory in Alaska in February, or their crazy four goal comeback also against Alaska in March – or in the season as a whole, the Grizzlies showed their resilience and their fortitude.

And now here they stand, having gone 22-12-3-1 since January. It may have taken them until the eleventh hour to secure their playoff berth, but they’re here. For the tenth straight season, the Grizzlies are in the hunt for the Kelly Cup.

Against all odds, they made it.

Technically, there may have been nothing at stake in Saturday’s game, with Utah’s playoff spot clinched, and the Mavericks eliminated from contention days earlier, but neither team packed it in.

Garrett Haar sat this one out, as did Colin Martin, after going rib first into the goal post on Friday. Erik Higby remained sidelined while Travis Howe drew back in, and Cam Reid made his return to the lineup for the first time since February 24th.

Utah got two of the first three shots, and Kevin Boyle was sharp in his sixth straight start. There were very few whistles, and the puck bounced quite a bit. One of those bounces found its way from the stick of Dane Fox and into the back of the net at 6:10. Just moments later, Boyle made an absolutely phenomenal save along the goal line to keep the score 1-0 as the Grizzlies seemed to ease off the gas briefly through the middle of the frame.

Boyle continued to be the Grizzlies’ best player early, but gradually Utah got their skates under them. Jon Puskar just narrowly missed tying the game up with just about six minutes to go, off a terrific shift with Travis Howe and C.J. Eick.

With about four minutes to go, things got exciting. Howe and Jacob Doty dropped the gloves right off the faceoff. After a lengthy tilt, Howe eventually went down, and both combatants got two for removing their helmets in addition to their five for fighting.

Ralph Cuddemi got a beautiful wrap around attempt followed up by a net crashing effort by Eick and Puskar, but Missouri’s Josh Robinson continued to hold the fort.

After a pretty disjointed first period, Utah led in shots 16-12, but Missouri held the 1-0 lead.

The Grizzlies picked up right where they left off to start the second, Puskar making it 1-1 from Cuddemi and Gabriel Verpaelst at 1:36. On the other end, Boyle continued to answer the call. Cuddemi and Eick got a nice two-on-one, as that line, backed by Tim Daly and Phil Pietroniro, had a strong shift in the offensive zone.

With about fifteen minutes left, Verpaelst was hit up high, went down in distress, and in the aftermath of the hit, the Mavs went up 2-1.

With 14:37 to go, Pietroniro made a nice pass to Puskar, who passed to Eick, who threw the puck on net. The goal horn went off, and the Grizzlies celebrated, but it was ruled no goal. Needless to say, the 8,874 fans in attendance were less than pleased.

On the very next shift, Erik Bradford scored for real at 5:40, tipping in Rob Mann’s point shot, making it 2-2, and giving Mann his first pro point. Brassard got the secondary assist, giving him four points in the last five games, and the crowd went absolutely wild.

Just about a minute later, Cuddemi sprang Eick, and C.J. beat out the Missouri defensemen, driving across the crease to go five hole for his ninth of the year. Cuddemi got his second assist of the night, while Pietroniro, who started the play, got the other helper.

Immediately after that, Howe and Doty dropped the gloves again, and had yet another marathon bout. Both got another two and five for fighting and removing their helmets. Boyle was called upon to make another phenomenal save two-on-one on the shift after that, much to the frustration of the Mavericks.

Utah began to really get going after the half-way mark, turning the offensive zone into a shooting gallery as they kept the puck in the zone through multiple successive shifts.

The Grizzlies drew the first power play of the night with at 14:35, but scarcely had the power play commenced than Daly was assessed a holding the stick penalty, evening play up at four a side.

Michael Pelech took a roughing call and then a ten-minute misconduct immediately afterwards, putting the Grizzlies down 4-on-3 for 1:23, then a brief 5-on-3. However, Utah’s penalty kill handled the situation, and escaped unscathed, thanks in part to Missouri clinging to the periphery, and to the efforts of Boyle and the defenders.

At the end of an eventful second period, Utah led 3-2, and held the narrow 24-23 advantage in shots as well.

The third period did not get off to an auspicious start, as Conner Bleackley scored a grand total of 58 seconds into the frame to tie it up.

Fortunately, the Grizzlies responded.

At about the nine minute mark, Pietroniro led a beautiful up-ice rush, fired a shot on net, and Eick batted the rebound in past Robinson for his tenth of the year. Puskar got the secondary assist, giving all three players multiple point games.

Utah continued to manage the puck well through the frame, and were rewarded with 6:16 left to go when Larraza’s point shot went to Bradford, and Daly put away the rebound. The goal was Daly’s 10th of the season, and Bradford’s assist gave him a multi-point game as well.

When the final buzzer of the regular season sounded, Utah led 5-3, and outshot Missouri 37-26.

On the second of two fan appreciation nights, the game was nothing if not a crowd-pleaser. It might not have been the best from a pure hockey stand point, but it had something of everything. There were good goals, bad goals, called off goals, fights, huge saves, some nifty, nifty plays, an absolutely electric crowd, and multi-point games from five different players. Puskar and Bradford both had a goal and an assist, Pietroniro and Cuddemi picked up two assists each, while C.J. Eick closed the regular season as he opened it, with two goals. And, of course, Boyle continued to be a difference maker in net, turning aside 23 out of 26 shots.

Travis Howe was named first star of the game, earning a deafening ovation from the crowd, while Eick and Puskar were the well deserving second and third stars.

It was a fitting end to a remarkable season.

“It’s one of those games that’s kind of tough,” C.J. Eick said after the game. “because you want to go into playoffs playing the right way with the right mentality. But at the same time you know that the spots already locked up, in the back of your mind you’re thinking you don’t want to get hurt, you don’t want to take any injuries on the night. It definitely made for a loose, fast paced game”

Looking back on the season, and the team’s overall attitude, Eick continued, “We knew what kind of team we had. A couple of those runs where we had some losses, we were playing well, we just weren’t getting the bounces, we were finding ways to lose games. But we knew that if we stuck with the process, we’d get back with the winning side, and that’s what happened.”

Tim Branham’s thoughts on the team’s performance were in a similar vein.

“I thought it was really energetic from both sides. I thought it was a good game. Definitely liked our energy, I thought we were playing well even though we got behind early. They worked hard, got a lucky bounce. I thought we were playing some good hockey. We really took over the last half of that 1st period and got a lot of shots on net and then out third period was good, using our speed and pushing them back on their heels, just get more pressure on the goaltender and knew we would break the dam.”

“I definitely believed in this group along,” Branham said when asked to reflect on the season as a whole. “I knew some changes had to be made and some tough decisions had to be made up front, trading some guy away that we did not want to, [that’s] just the nature of the business with the amount of injuries that we had. You gotta give the boys props, you gotta give them credit, they battled through and they wanted to get in. Had to do it by winning, and I thought they did a tremendous job at sticking together, scoring the goals when they had to. Winning that 5 and 0 on that road trip was massive. You really gotta give the guys credit, they did an amazing job and they deserved to celebrate a little bit here with the fans, and then the real work begins, that’s for sure.

“The position that we were at in January, after a real tough stretch, winless in nine, to be able to pull though, battle through, that month of February was really important. We got to play the teams in our division and close the gap a little bit there in Alaska, and then obviously that last road trip going 5 and 0 was big. It’s a character group. They know what it takes to win and its just a matter of having people in that lineup on a consistent basis getting some chemistry, and bringing in some new D-men. We had to revamp the D-core after it was decimated so it was good. The boys never said die, found a way to get the job done, its huge. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us right now and we gotta make sure we’re ready.”

The battle for the playoff spot is over, but the war is only just begun. The Grizzlies will face the reigning Kelly Cup champion Allen Americans against whom they were 0-2-1-1 this season.

“We know what we’re up against. They won a lot of championships here in a row, they got some guys on their team who know how to win, but so do we. We gotta make them play defense. They went out and got a lot of high end talent there at the deadline. We gotta make sure that we’re in their face, not giving them time to make plays, and make them play defense. We’ve been saying puck possession all year, when we have the puck their team cants score so, we gotta make sure that we stick to that philosophy and see if we can’t frustrate them a little bit and take it one game at a time.”

It’s a tall task, to be sure, but Utah is very familiar with those by now, and if we’ve learned anything from the regular season, it’s this.

Don’t ever, ever count the Grizzlies out when there’s still time for a comeback.

 

Photo courtesy of Josie Vimahi/Utah Grizzlies

Utah Grizzlies: Coming in Hot

(The recap from Wednesday night’s game is coming soon! Apologies for the delay! Life caught up with me there…)

The Utah Grizzlies have returned from their most recent road, and come into the final three games of the season a perfect 5-0.

After beating Colorado twice in their own barn, and picking up a win in the first of three games against Rapid City, Utah continued to pick up steam.

Kevin Boyle once more manned the net on Friday night, and Tim Daly returned to the roster after a two game stint in the AHL.

Gabriel Verpaelst scored the game’s opening goal at 1:55 in the first for his first goal with the Grizzlies, and then Boyle held the fort as Utah struggled a little on the defensive side of things. Mathieu Aubin drew the first power play of the game with 4:37 to go in the frame as Mike Monfredo put him into the boards by the benches and was sent off for roughing. The power play was unable to capitalize, however, and after 20 minutes, Utah led 1-0 despite being outshot 8-6.

Scarcely had the second period begun than Boyle was called upon to make a pair of huge saves, but Rapid City would eventually tie it up as Ryan Walters capitalized on some more slightly sketchy defense at 5:53. However, the tie did not last very long. Michael Pelech scored his 19th of the season at 9:26, with assists from Aubin and Austen Brassard.

Pelech took a high-sticking minor about a minute later, but Terrence Wallin high-sticked Daly less than a minute after that, to negate the power play. The Grizzlies didn’t score on the four-on-four, or the ensuing (and brief) power play that followed, though Daly came painfully close.

In the end, though, it didn’t much matter, as Pelech scored his 20th from an incredibly tight angle from Pietroniro and Aubin to give Utah the 3-1 lead. With Pelech’s second goal of the night marked the third time in five games that he has picked up at least two points, and the Grizzlies now have four players who have hit the 20 goal mark.

Zac Larraza got a beautiful chance later in the period, but was robbed blind by Adam Morrison. With just 34 seconds to go in the period, Pelech got involved in a scuffle with Hunter Fejes, and they both received two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct as the second came to an end.

After two periods, the shots were 19-18 for the Rush, and Utah held a fairly comfortable 3-1 lead.

Martin Nemcik took a penalty in the early stages of the third, and Boyle made an absolutely gorgeous windmill save on the ensuing penalty kill, but nothing much of note occurred until about the halfway point. Brassard and Pelech tangled with Riley Weselowski, and all three players were sent to cool their heels for two minutes.

The Grizzlies killed off the penalty, and at 14:54, Larraza made it 4-1 with assists from Daly and Garrett Haar. The goal was Larraza’s 6th of the season, and his thirteenth point in eleven games.

Unfortunately, with 2:06 to go, Triston Grant made it 4-2 in a wild scramble in front of the net, but when the Rush pulled their goalie, Aubin scored into the empty net to ice away the game.

Pelech and Larraza were named the well-deserved first and third stars of the game, and Boyle made 31/33 saves in his second straight start.

 

Saturday’s game was a wild one right out of the gate as Travis Howe and Anthony Collins dropped the gloves less than two minutes into the first. Barely a minute later, Verpaelst and Weslowski dropped the gloves, and a little over a minute after that, C.J. Eick made it 1-0 with assists from Haar and Brassard.

Colin Martin took a cross-checking penalty at 9:14, but the Grizzlies penalty kill took care of it, thanks in large part to some terrific saves by Boyle.

But the shenanigans weren’t nearly over yet.

Collins and Verpaelst dropped the gloves at 12:28, both earning their second fights of the night.

Unfortunately, Ryan Walters scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 to tie the game up at one. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and with 5:56 to go, a pileup occurred along the boards. Once the dust settled,  Howe and Monfredo were in the box for fighting, joined by Pietroniro for roughing, and Grant for roughing and crosschecking.

Utah wasn’t able to capitalise on the power play, but right as it ended, Erik Bradford made it 2-1 for Utah with assists from Jon Puskar and Colin Martin.

 

Barely a minute later, Puskar was taken off a breakaway, and got a penalty shot, but was unable to beat Luke Siemens.

After 20 shots were 9-8 for Utah, who led 2-1.

Bradford nearly made it 3-1 with 17:54 to go, and a lovely play by Howe to slow the game down led to Puskar drawing a penalty shortly thereafter. Larraza scored his fifth goal in four games at 4:31, while Martin and Bradford drew the assists.

Despite holding a two goal advantage, the lead never exactly felt safe, and with 5:51 to go in the second, the Rush made it 3-2. Martin nearly picked up his second point of the game on a wrap-around attempt in the dying moments of the period, but after 40 the score remained 3-2.

Martin Nemcik began the third playing shifts at forward in place of Travis Howe, who played little (or not at all) through the remainder of the game. The Grizzlies played a much better game in the third — perhaps their best of the entire series against Rapid City, allowing not a single shot through the first 13 or so minutes of the period, including on the penalty kill.

Haar took the only other penalty of the game at 14:58, but Utah killed it off, and with just under a minute left in the game, Martin scored his 22nd of the year into the empty net.

Martin and Bradford were named first and second stars of the game, each with a goal and two assists, and Larraza could well have joined them, as he had a multi-point night, picking up a goal and an assist as well.

The win put the Grizzlies in sole possession of the final playoff spot in the mountain division, and saw them close out one of their most successful road trips to date.

Utah will close out the season against the Missouri Maveriks, and they hold their playoff destiny in their own hands.

Image courtesy of Josie Vimahi/Utah Grizzlies

Utah Grizz: Unfamiliar Territory

Coming off a big weekend against Alaska, the Grizzlies looked to keep the wins coming against stiff opposition. Ryan Faragher got the start in Utah’s first encounter ever against the Florida Everblades, while Gabriel Verpaelst made his Grizzlies’ debut in place of Sean Robertson.

The Everblades began well, but it was the Grizzlies who brought all the fire power early. Michael Pelech, Cam Reid, and Austen Brassard all scored in the first five minutes for Utah. Florida pulled Anthony Peters in favor of Alex Nedeljkovic, and the fireworks weren’t over yet. The Everblades an interference penalty, and Marc-André Lévesque dropped the gloves with Dalton Smith.

Faragher stopped a short-handed breakaway on man advantage, and the Grizzlies weren’t able to capitalize. Unfortunately, Florida had some terrific zone time afterwards, and scored at 10:31 when Utah was unable to clear the puck, making it 3-1.

The Grizzlies held off a swarming Florida, including on a power play following a Pelech holding call. Faragher absolutely stood on his head through the rest of the period, and at the end of 2o, the score was 3-1 Utah. However, Florida outshot them 11-5, and the Everblades’ most dangerous period, historically, was yet to come.

Utah came out of the gate quickly, and just 59 seconds into the second, Erik Bradford tipped in a big shot from Phil Pietroniro to restore the three goal lead. Jon Puskar’s work to keep the puck alive earned him the secondary assist.

The Grizzlies got another power play at 3:06, but it was negated shortly thereafter when Pelech took a tripping call at 3:37. Utah killed it off, and even got a breakaway chance of their own from Mathieu Aubin.

The Everblades cut the lead in half again with 11:02 to go, again after a prolonged shift in the Grizzlies’ end.

Utah thwarted what seemed like a sure recipe for disaster when Puskar, Brassard, Amestoy, Daly, and Pietroniro were trapped in their own zone for what must have been well over a minute. Shortly thereafter, Daly drew a power play with just under two minutes left to play, but though Utah got a few looks, they were unable to capitalize.

After 40, Utah led 4-2, but the Everblades continued to outshoot them 20-13.

Faragher made two enormous saves to start the third period, and at 3:46 Martin Nemcik took a slashing call, sending Utah to the penalty kill. C.J. Eick got in on a glorious breakaway, but Nedeljkovic turned him aside, and on the next shift, Gabriel Verpaelst took a boarding call, sending the Grizzlies to a lengthy 5-on-3.

The Grizzlies killed off the 5-on-3, but unfortunately, Florida scored after Pietroniro whiffed on the clearing attempt, and the puck went straight to a waiting Everblade to make it 4-3 at 6:46.

Utah held Florida off through the later minutes of the period, and with 1:30 left to go, Florida pulled their goalie. He had to return to the net 30 seconds later when Grizzlies drew a power play. Verpaelst took an elbowing call mere seconds after that, though, allowing Florida to pull their goalie yet again, and play 5-on-4 with the empty net.

Regardless, the Grizzlies hung on through the last minute, and they picked up a huge two points against one of the top teams of the ECHL. Unfortunately for the playoff race, Alaska beat Colorado, so instead of moving within one of the last spot, the Grizzlies remain three back.

Marc-André Lévesque remains a point-a-game with the Grizzlies, while Bradford’s multi-point game ties him with Ralph Cuddemi for the team lead with 13 multiple-point games this season. Bradford and Reid were named the first and third stars of the game, and while Faragher was not, he very well could have been as well after that performance.

Utah moves on to Orlando next where they will take on the Solar Bears on Friday and Sunday.