With Caleb Herbert, Tim McGauley, Travis Barron, Julien Nantel, and Kevin Davis all up in the AHL, and J.T. Henke, Nolan De Jong, Cole Ully, Jack Walker, Austin Carroll and R.T. Rice all out with various injuries, Will Smith and Joseph Mizzi made their Grizzlies debuts, Joey Raats dressed as a forward, and Josh Anderson also returned to the lineup from Colorado. Joe Cannata got the start against Cliff Watson, C.J. Eick, and the Kansas City Mavericks.
- That was a ROUGH first shift.
- Neither team is looking particularly crisp at the moment.
- What a sprawling poke-check from Cannata to negate any chance on the one-on-none.
- Mike Economos gets leveled, and Turner Ottenbreit drops the gloves with Neal Goff as a result! Both get five, Goff gets the extra two for the initial interference call.
- Half-way through the first, shots are still 4-3 for KC. Neither team has recorded n official shot in quite a while.
- Birthday boy Taylor Richart playing soccer with the puck to some effect over there!
- One thing the Grizzlies are doing quite well is make it difficult for KC to make passes/shots, whether it’s through tying up sticks or getting in shot lanes.
- Cannata seems to be seeing the puck really well.
- Oooh, new guy Mizzi with a really nice move, followed by a nicer shot! Unfortunately, Mason McDonald flashes the leather.
- Teigan Zahn with a gorgeous defensive move there.
- That’s the second good chance that Mizzi’s been a part of.
- Taylor Richart doing Taylor Richart things. (Aka, blocking all of the shots.)
- Suddenly, shots are 10-5 for Utah!
- Kansas City is gonna score on this power play with two seconds left.
- Kansas City scores on the power play with four seconds left. I HATE being right.
- I honestly thought Cannata had that one.
- Utah trails 1-0 after 20, despite out-shooting KC 10-6
- That’s the second penalty Economos has drawn against Goff!
- I know it’s really bad form to yell for someone to shoot, but several of you should have shot that puck…
- Mizzi continues to impress through the second period.
- Utah is getting a lot more chances as the period approaches the half-way point.
- Turner Ottenbreit slides the puck past McDonald! Josh Dickinson gets the assist, and just like that, we’re all tied up!
- The period is already half gone, and the Grizzlies have only allowed one shot!
- Economos with the WHEELS???? Seriously. He’s gotten so speedy lately.
- Taylor My-middle-name-is-blocked-shot Richart.
- Ah. That’s not ideal. 2-1 for KC on their third shot of the period…
- Sometime or other, Grayson Downing is gonna score. He’s just too good not to.
- Why is it ALWAYS Richy? And on his birthday too. That’s just rude.
- Snipe and celly! I SAID it was only a matter of time!!!! Downing ties it up, Richart and Dickinson with the assists!
- Well. The shot situation is great, the goal situation is great, two goals on eleven shots is not great.
- Playing on the other end of the ice would be really great right about now.
- On the other hand, KC’s wired a couple of shots on Cannata, and he’s been rock solid this period.
- Great shift from the Grizzlies there. Economos almost had one from the doorstep.
- As the game has progressed, both teams have definitely settled down and cleaned up the passing issues from earlier.
- Ottenbreit has looked quite good this game, even without his goal.
- Cannata with a good save.
- KC up 3-2. Sorry Joe. I jinxed you.
- WALLY ON THE POWER PLAY. TIE GAME.
- …HOW did Dickinson settle that puck down and not lose possession?
- Downing with a beautiful move to elude a defender and get a shot off. Unfortunately, McDonald is a pretty good goalie.
- That Cannata save could prove to be very, very important with three minutes left in this tie game…
- 1:22 to go…
- Another big Cannata save with 55 seconds to go…
- Oh boy, Utah did not miss taking the game in the last twenty seconds by much there.
- Welp. One point down. Let’s get that second one.
- With the second point on the line, Cannata is making some very important saves.
- OT power play, thanks to Cliff Watson!
- Richart with a HUGE shot that looks like it might have stung Marchment.
- Oh Josh nearly had one.
- THE MOOSE. IS. LOOSE.
- Kansas City is NOT pleased.
- (I can’t believe that counted, but I sure as H-e-double-hockey-sticks don’t mind being on this side of a call like that for a change!)
- GRIZZLIES WIN 4-3 IN OT.
Ausmus’ OT game winner earned him first star of the night, while Dickinson’s two assist night was good for second star, and Downing’s goal, assist, and seven shots saw him take third star honors. In the end, Cannata saved 22/25 for his 14th win of the year. Turner Ottenbreit also had a very strong game, as did Mizzi, who together with Walters and Dickinson, had five shots in his debut. Walters now has seven goals in his last six games and, with all the call-ups and injuries, is once again the Grizzlies’ leading scorer.
One of the most impressive things about the Grizzlies in this stretch that started at the end of January is the consistency with which they’ve managed to keep the wins and goals coming, despite the injuries, call-ups, and new players they’ve had to bring in.
“It feels good coming to the rink for practice, game days, there’s just a good mood in there, and everyone feels good.” Ausmus said about what’s been allowing the Grizzlies to be so consistent, despite the constant turnover of personnel. “Obviously you’re gonna play better hockey when you have that mindset and it’s fun to come to the rink. That’s the biggest part about this group is that we all have a good time, we all get along, and we have fun when we come to the rink.”
Downing’s thoughts on the subject were very similar to Ausmus’. “We definitely are short-handed” he said, “But the guys who are playing are doing a good job. Doesn’t matter who’s in or who’s out, I think everyone has to fill a role, and tonight we kind of showed that. A lot of adversity coming through in overtime, I think Moosie’s goal was huge, don’t really know what happened in front of the net there, but a goal’s a goal and like I said, winning is fun.”
Downing himself is one of the new additions in the merry-go-round that has been the Grizzlies roster, but he’s by no means the newest. Mizzi and Smith both played in their first games with the team, and Tim Branham was pleased with their outing.
“We had seven forwards all week at practice, so it’s not like you can get a whole lot accomplished in practice, you’re just trying to keep your wind up and stay confident.” Branham said. “Mizzi is a young kid who was recommended by his agent, Pat Curcio, he’s a 20-year-old kid playing tier two junior hockey, this is a big jump for him. He had five shots through the second period, could have had three goals. Really good job by him. Smitty, he came from Adirondack, started in the SPHL, played in the Quebec Major Junior League, another young kid, but he’s got experience in this league. I thought he did a really good job tonight.”
Overall, Branham was pleased with how the team came together.
“I thought that was a really good game by the team, a complete team effort. We’re playing pretty short-handed. Good help getting Cannata down, that’s for sure, and Anderson, but at the end of the day, no matter who’s in our lineup, we pull through and find a way to have success. I thought that third period they kind of took it to us, but other than that, the majority of the game, I think we did pretty good. Hopefully we can clean up a few things for tomorrow, and find another two points.”
He reserved his greatest praise for Downing, however, and deservedly so.
“He’s been tremendous. Definitely one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached. He’s got all the tools, that’s for sure, and it was only a matter of time before those flood gates opened. He’s been doing a lot, he’s been creating a lot, playing a lot of hockey. He’s never played with three lines before in his life, since like…mites. College hockey you have four lines, in the American League you have four lines, so this is a lot of hockey for him, and I think he’s adjusting really well — which he should, he’s a top notch player — and we’re definitely lucky to have him.”
“I think [Dickinson] made a great play on the boards and kinda found me.” Downing said of his goal. “It’s one of those things this year that I haven’t been shooting enough, so I kinda decided just to close my eyes and put it on net. Luckily it was a pretty good shot, and it’s always nice getting that first one out of the way. I felt like they all could have went in tonight. I think their goalie played well. Any time you can win, it’s huge, and it’s more fun. We’ve got a great group of guys since I’ve been down here, I don’t know what’s in the water, but winning is a lot of fun, so it’s nice to be in that atmosphere.”
Utah looks to keep the wins coming as they continue to host Kansas City tonight (Saturday) and Monday, especially since there’s bound to be a great crowd for Grizzlies Fight Cancer night.
- First Period: None
- Second Period: Ottenbreit (Dickinson), Downing (Richart, Dickinson)
- Third Period: Walters (Marchment, Downing) PP
- OT: Ausmus (Economos, Zahn)
Photo courtesy of Josh Pinnau.
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