Utah Grizzlies: Captain Clutch

With goaltender Joe Cannata called up, as well as goal scorer Michael Joly, and defenseman Nicolas Meloche, Colorado was even more short-handed on Friday night than they were on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, were not. They brought back Jon Puskar in place of Brad Navin, and once more sent out Kevin Carr to face Sam Brittain. Utah’s main objective? Get some goals for Carr.

Greger Hanson, Michael Pelech, and Kyle Thomas started the game off, but the Eagles scored on their first shot of the night, on a defensive misscommunication.

The Grizzlies responded well though, the Ryan Line and the Puskar line (the later especially) having good shifts afterward. Olsen centered the puck for Misiak, but Misiak was hauled down, and Utah went to the power play.

It took them only 37 seconds to capitalize. Carr sent the puck to Garrett Haar, who made a terrific pass to Hanson to make it a 1-1 game.

The penalty kill went to work 2:33 later, as Zach Saar went off for interference, and they kept the Eagles off the board. Chris Leibinger was terrific on the kill, continuing to be a shot blocking machine.

Just moments after the Grizzlies returned to full strength, Colorado the puck hit the post behind Carr, rolled along the line, and out. The call on the ice was a goal, but after some consultation, it was overturned.

Almost immediately afterwards, Colorado put the puck over the glass for delay of game, and Utah went back to the power play. They had some good puck movement on the advantage, but were unable to capitalize this time around.

C.J. Eick and Leibinger got a two-on-one with just over seven minutes to go, but Brittain turned it aside.

Colorado held Utah in their own end for a number of consecutive shifts, as the Grizzlies struggled to make clean plays in their own end. Fortunately, Carr was well up to the challenge, and the Ryan Line finally got the puck out.

The Eagles pressure continued, however, and eventually led to a Utah penalty with less than 30 seconds left. The Grizzlies were very fortunate to escape to the locker room with a tie game.

Utah’s PK made quick work of the 1:37 of penalty time to start the second. Hanson and Pelech got a two-on-one short-handed, but Pelech’s pass missed Hanson.

Missed passes continued to haunt the Grizzlies, as Walters’ pass to Olsen went into his skates as he was all alone in front of Brittain after Utah returned to full strength. Likewise, the first line were unable to connect on the next shift.

Utah had some more issues keeping Colorado out of their own end, but in the end, the sloppy play ended up going in Utah’s favor.

Olsen and Hanson converged in the offensive zone, which apparently distracted the Eagles so much that Walters sneaked in uncontested to give the Grizzlies their first lead of the night. Olsen and Hanson got the assist on Walters’ eighth of the year.

On the very next shift, Thomas was called for slashing, and then got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct for some mild protesting. Utah responded well though, getting a glorious up-ice rush that put a rebound just wide. Colorado never got properly set up, and the Grizzlies killed off all four minutes.

It looked an awful lot like Colorado got away with a call when Hanson was hauled down, and with too many men, but they eventually took a penalty with 7:43 to go.

Unfortunately, the power play was sloppy in their own end, and Matt Garbowsky scored short-handed all alone in front of Carr. Utah responded well with a good shift, but were unable to take the lead back on the advantage.

Puskar took a tripping penalty with 2:23 to go, but once again, the Grizzlies’ penalty kill was up to the task, getting a breakaway chance from Mitch Jones, and a two-on-one from Misiak and Walters.

After 40, Utah was being out-shot 23-12, but the game remained tied, 2-2 this time.

Utah came out hot in the third, Olsen went hard into the boards, but though he was a little slow to get up, he remained on the ice. Walters and Olsen both ended up down on the ice shortly afterwards, and the Grizzlies went to the power play.

The bad news was that the power play was unable to capitalize, but the good news was that Olsen and Walters both took their usual second unite power play time. Misiak got fouled up twice on one shift, but no second penalty was called.

The lack of finish on the power play ended up costing them, as Utah got stuck in their own end, and Carr gave up an uncharacteristic goal at 5:19.

The lines went into the blender with about half the period to go, and Utah found themselves hemmed into their own zone.

The line blender worked out to the Grizzlies’ advantage, as Higby, Olsen, and Thomas went over the boards, and Thomas tied the game with his fifth of the year.

Puskar took a penalty with just over ten to go in the period, but they killed off the minor, and Puskar made it 4-3 from Misiak and Hanson.

With 3:16 to go, Colorado scored again, Carr immediately protested, and though the official never signaled goal it did, in fact, count.

Utah got a late power play, thanks to Hanson’s speed and tenacity on the puck, but there was no last second power play goal, and the game went to OT.

The Grizzlies carried 30 seconds of power play time into OT, and then Colin Bowman took an ill-advised roughing call against Thomas in front of the Eagles’ net, and Utah went back to the advantage.

They got strong possession, passing the puck carefully and deliberately, getting off a couple of shots, but no goal. Pelech was crosschecked to the ice after the Eagles returned to full strength, and despite it being bad enough to bring the athletic trainer Cole Libby out onto the ice, there was no call. It was the latest in a litany of questionable non-calls, so a few shifts later, when the Eagles fans were in uproar over yet another perceived missed call, it felt like poetic justice that Walters came flying down the ice on yet another a two-on-one with Misiak, and scored the OT winner.

The eagle celly was definitely a dig at Colorado, but it was also appropriate for a goal that threw the OT monkey off the Grizzlies’ collective back, and gave them their first win against the Eagles after eight meetings, seven of which were lost by one goal, and five of which were lost in OT or the shoot out.

“I figured I’d take it and win it” the Captain said, of his decisive game winner.

The Grizzlies got on a bus immediately after the game to return home where they face Colorado again tonight where they hope to hit .500 before the Christmas break.

 

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming & staff

Utah Grizzlies: The Phantom Menace

After winning 8-3 against the Rush on Friday night, the Grizzlies’ line-up remained unchanged, with the exception of Angus Redmond getting the start.

Utah got the first two shots of the game, but the Rush answered quickly, getting the next four, and throwing their weight around. The Grizzlies got some looks in the first five minutes, but by-and-large, Rapid City kept the play moving towards the Utah zone.

With 14:08 to go, the Ryan Line charged the net, Ryan Olsen got the shot, and they drew the first power play of the game. They drew another power play when Peter Sivak got a throwing-the-stick call. The Grizzlies got a couple of shots on the minute long five-on-three, re-establishing their shot lead, but they were unable to put the puck past former Utah goalie Shane Owen.

One thing the power play did, however, was allow the Grizzlies to take back momentum from a Rush team working hard after the 8-3 drubbing. Olsen got a shot off one-on-one against Owen on a tight angle with 9:52 to go, but Owen kept it scoreless.

Chris Leibinger made a couple of huge blocks in the defensive zone, that led to an odd-man rush between Kyle Thomas and Ryan Misiak. Misiak put the puck past Owen, and gave Utah the 1-0 lead from Thomas and Redmond. The goal energized the team, and they started to absolutely fly. Michael Pelech got a gorgeous shot of his own, and Tommy Maxwell got sent to the box with 6:31 to go in the frame.

On the power play, Olsen got slashed, and then stapled to the boards, but Utah kept control of the puck. Kyle Thomas got into it with a Rush player in front of the net, and got sent off to the box with 4:50 to go, and 20 seconds left on the Maxwell penalty. The penalty kill returned to its former state, however, Hanson getting a short-handed chance, and then killing it off.

With 2:26 to go, Kenton Miller boarded Taylor Richart, and Erik Higby made him pay. Richart and Olsen got the assists on Higby’s second in two games.

After 20, Utah led 2-0, shots 20-13 tying their season high. Redmond’s  play definitely held the Grizzlies in it early on.

The teams traded opportunities and zone time in the first five minutes, but once again, Owen and Redmond were up to the challenge. Utah drew a power play with 15:24 to go, but were unable to capitalize.

The Grizzlies did not exactly make Redmond’s life easy in the second period, and he came up pretty big for them. With almost exactly 10 minutes left in the period, Sam Windle rang the post.

That post could have been haunting, as Richart took a delay of game penalty with 8:40 to go. They were able to kill it off, but an egregious turn over left Maxwell all alone in the slot. He beat Redmond, and cut the lead in half with 6:25 to go in the second.

Shortly thereafter, they had another bad turnover, but fortunately, nothing came of that one. Utah returned to their puck possession game with about four minutes to go from all their lines.

Owen stood on his head on a flurry of shots from a determined first line jumped on some rebounds. At the buzzer, Misiak got bumped at the boards, and Walters and Olsen objected vehemently. Olsen and Maxwell took matching roughing calls, and the refs herded the teams to the locker room. After 40, shots were 28-21 for Utah (but 8-8 in the frame), and the score 2-1.

The third period opened with two solid minutes of four-on-four, but then the Rush pressured. The third line got the engine going again, but Owen made a couple of big saves on Zach Saar and C.J. Eick, and Redmond was called upon to make a save of his own as the puck went the other way. Misiak and Walters got an odd-man rush as well, but again Owen shut the door.

With 13:13 left, Rapid City once again capitalized on Utah sloppiness, erasing the lead.

Greger Hanson restored the lead, 1:14 after the Rush tied it, once again started by a Leibinger play. The assists on Hanson’s eighth went to Leibinger and Pelech.

Rapid City continued to skate hard, Misiak got a break-away that went wide, and at 10:08, Thomas restored the two goal lead on a dazzling display of skill. Hanson and Olsen got the assists 1:51 after the game was tied.

Maxwell went back to the box for roughing immediately after that, but they didn’t extend the lead. Unfortunately, Utah was unable to get the puck out of their own end shortly after that, and Rapid City closed the lead again with seven minutes to go, as they refused to go away.

Navin, Higby, and Saar got a two on one, and helped re-establish puck possession.

With just a bit over four minutes to go, Hanson beat out an icing, and threw the puck across crease to Pelech, who put the puck past Owen for his eighth of the year.

Rapid City got in on a breakaway, Redmond made a terrific save, and Richart whisked the rebound out of harm’s way with less than two minutes to go.

The Rush pulled Owen with a minute to go, Utah held possession, but were unable to get a shot on the empty net. With 23 seconds to go, the Rush drew within one, scoring short-side, and then taking their time out.

Olsen won the face-off following the time out, keeping Owen stuck in his net. Redmond made the save with nine seconds left. Olsen again took the draw in the defensive zone, as Rapid City pulled Owen once more. The Rush got control of the puck, but Redmond pounced on the puck. With four seconds to go, Branham called his time out. Olsen won the final face-off, and when the final buzzer sounded, Utah had held on for their second straight win.

Thomas (1G, 1A, 3 shots), Pelech (1G, 2A, 5 shots), and Olsen (2A, 4 shots) were named the three stars of the game, while Redmond got his second win of the season. Misiak now has goals in consecutive games, and seven points in the last six, while Olsen now has eight points in six games, including five over the weekend. The first line, meanwhile combined for a total of seven points on Saturday, and a total of 15 in the last two. Higby also has goals in two straight.

“I thought our guys did a good job of creating scoring chances,” Coach Branham said after the game. “It was good to see. I mean, we were on a huge scoring drought, and playing good hockey, we just couldn’t put the puck in the net. Now we’ve done eight and five. We just gotta keep that rolling, we’re playing a good team next week in Colorado, we’re gonna need that same effort out of everybody to come out with the win.”

When asked what the team needs to do to carry on their winning ways against Colorado–who they have yet to beat this season–he added:

“Just play the same way, all the games have been one goal, except for one or something, but it’s a different story when you have Thomas down, and you’ve got that fire power, those two lines that are playing with a lot of confidence right now. I like our chances. I thought our D were a little tired out there today, going two nights back-to-back going with five D I thought put a little stress on them, but Colorado is good, we gotta be disciplined. They’re good on the power play, we’ve just gotta make sure we play a solid game, and score on our scoring chances the last two games.”

Utah will play the Eagles twice in Loveland, before finishing off the year at home against Colorado and Idaho.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

Utah Grizzlies: Return of the Jedi

With Kyle Thomas’ return, the formerly potent first line of Greger Hanson, Michael Pelech, and Thomas was reassembled, while Ryans Misiak, Olsen, and Walters remained together as the second line. Zach Saar, Charley Graaskamp, C.J. Eick, Brad Navin, and Erik Higby all dressed as well, with Utah icing eleven forwards and five defensemen. Rob Mann, Jon Puskar (reserve), Brendan Harms (reserve), and Travis Howe (serving a nine game suspension), were the scratches.

Kevin Carr got the start, while Walters wore the C, and Eick and Taylor Richart the As against Rapid City.

Tempers flared early and often for Rapid City, leading to a roughing minor drawn by Walters at 2:14, and a Utah power play. Walters took the best kind of revenge, taking a pass from Olsen, and hammered home the first goal. His goal sent a shower of stuffed animals to the ice on Teddy Bear Toss night. Misiak got the second assist, as the whole Ryan Line got in on the action against Walters and Misiak’s former team.

The Rush took another penalty as Richart was tag-teamed and thrown to the ice by two Rapid City players. Olsen jumped in in defense, and Utah got another power play on a roughing call. The Grizzlies got a couple of really good looks and possession from the Ryan Line, and Higby, but it ultimately came up empty.

Thomas pounced on a turn-over at 8:57, passed to Hanson, and Pelech put the puck past Adam Vay to get a 2-0 lead.

Rapid City took another roughing call as Tommy Maxwell tried to goad Walters into retaliating. Utah got a lot of space to make plays, but they were unable to get a second power play goal, and shortly after the Rush returned to full strength, Eick took a penalty.

After going more than 300 minutes, and a perfect 24/24 on the kill, the normally stellar Utah PK gave up a power play goal 13 seconds in as Pavel Jenys snuck the puck away from Carr and into the net.

The Ryan Line went to work immediately afterwards, and while their multiple chances didn’t come to anything, it was a good response.

With five minutes left in the frame, the Rush got some good offensive zone pressure, before the Grizzlies retook control of the game.

Higby took a tripping call with 2:52 to go, but Utah killed it off, and they sprang Higby out of the box. Unfortunately, Vay made the save, and the Grizzlies went into the first intermission up 2-1, out-shooting their opponent 14-8.

Utah got off to a good start in the second, and then at 2:17, Saar dropped the gloves with Josh Elmes. Elmes got more punches in, initially, after getting Saar’s jersey over his head, but Zach ultimately got the take-down in a quick bout.

Utah continued to dominate puck possession in the opening minutes of the frame, but Richart took a hooking call at 4:19, and once again, Jenys scored 15 seconds into the advantage. So, despite more or less controlling the play, and leading in shots 19-9, it was a tie game, and a familiar feeling of dread began to creep in.

Happily, it was not allowed to last for long. The third line had a strong shift in the Rush zone, followed by the Pelech line. Then Pelech sprang Thomas, who crossed the blue line all alone, and deked the pants off Vay to give the Grizzlies back the lead. Pelech and Hanson both got the assists. That’s more or less when Utah busted the game wide open.

Just over a minute later Windle sprang Higby with 12:37, and this time, Higby made no mistake on the breakaway, getting his second goal of the year on a gorgeous top-shelf snipe.

Garret Haar got a gorgeous chance, and drew a holding the stick call. Utah got a chance or two, including a gorgeous pair from Thomas, but all in all, it was not one of their better attempts. In the end, it didn’t matter, as Saar got the puck right as the PK ended, picking it up at the red line, beating both Rush defensemen, and displaying some seriously nifty hands, deking out Vay to give Utah the 5-2 lead. Graaskamp got his fourth assist of the season on Saar’s fourth, giving the Grizzlies three goals in just over four minutes.

Rapid City got a couple strong shifts in the Utah zone, but Olsen took a pass from Walters by the bench, danced into the offensive zone, split the D, and beat Vay glove-side for his seventh goal of the season. Walters and Leibinger were initially credited with the assists, though Misiak eventually got the secondary. The sixth goal set a season high for goals in a game, and there were still over five minutes left in the second.

Haar took a holding the stick call of his own with three minutes left in the second, and the Utah penalty kill continued to struggle uncharacteristically, giving up another goal at 18:40.

Hanson restored the four goal lead with 34 seconds left, after a spinning Pelech made a dandy of a pass to Thomas in the slot. His pass to Hanson fooled Vay, and Utah’s five goal second period set a season high there as well. After 40, Utah out-shot the Rush 30-18, leading 7-3.

After such a prolific second, the third was something of an anti-climax by comparison. Because Rapid City’s backup goalie was an EBUG, Vay remained in net.

Utah continued to control the game, playing (as Adrian Denny noted) some of their best structured hockey of the night, and continuing to hold a ten shot lead on the Rush.

Thomas and Navin got a two on one, as did Eick and Higby, though neither found the back of the net. Utah drew another power play at 9:24, but the Rush killed it off.

Leibinger got stung blocking a shot off the arm with just under eight minutes left, but he was back in short order, starting the rush that hit Olsen in the offensive zone. Olsen could have taken the shot, but passed instead to Misiak, who hammered home the eighth goal at point-blank range. It was the last goal of the night, and gave every member of the top six a goal.

After a whistle, Darian Dziurzynski grabbed Pelech, Eick jumped in in defense, and Tommy Maxwell dropped the gloves with Pelech. Once the dust settled, Dziurzynski got a double minor for roughing, as did Eick, while Pelech got a rough and a five for fighting, and Maxwell got five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct. The Grizzlies killed off the penalty to Eick, and when the final whistle sounded, Utah led 8-3, and out-shot the Rush 36-24.

In a nice touch, the in-arena unofficial three stars of the game went to the entire team, who absolutely deserved it. The official three stars went to Hanson (1G, 2A), Pelech (1G, 2A), and Thomas (1G,1A).

Rapid City definitely targeted Walters an Richart all night, and the Grizzlies did a surprisingly good job of not getting suckered into retaliating, the last five minutes not withstanding.

Utah’s eight goal game was a season high, eclipsing their previous high of five set against Worchester. They got two goals from every line, including one from all six of the top six forwards. Misiak, Olsen, Hanson, and Pelech, all had a goal and two assists, while Walters and Thomas both had multi-point games as well. Additionally, Sam Windle was a team leading +7 on the night, breaking an all-time Grizzlies’ record that has stood since before they played in Utah.

Utah now has a five way tie for leading goal-scorer between Pelech, Hanson, Walters, Olsen, and Richart all at seven, while Pelech (23 points), Hanson (20 pts) lead the team in points, followed by the three Ryans, and Kyle Thomas.

After getting three goals in three games, Olsen now has six points in five games, Walters has ten points in seven, and Misiak has five in the last three, while the first line appears to be picking up right where they left off.

“I thought our guys were fabulous, did tremendous.” Tim Branham said of his team’s impressive outing. “Five on five, we were dominant. I really liked the way we drove the net, put pucks on net, we played with excitement, we executed, we scored on our scoring chances. I mean, when you can add a player like Kyle Thomas, it obviously makes your team that much more deep, and just completes that line again with Hanson, Pelech, and Thomas. Those guys were so good for us when they were together, and they were what, all three of them top ten or top fifteen in the league before they got called up. And then our other line is going too with Misiak, Olsen, and Walters, it’s a big difference, right? So kudos to the boys, sometimes it can be tough to play in a game like that when the other team takes runs at you, or the score gets out of hand, and we kept the foot on the gas, and we gotta keep this feeling inside, and want it again tomorrow. I think that’s the biggest thing for this group is confidence and execution, because we were playing some really good hockey, and just weren’t getting the results, cause we weren’t scoring goals. Obviously Kyle Thomas is huge, but everyone stepped up tonight. Higby, Saar, everybody stepped up. It was good to see.”

Michael Pelech echoed Branham’s sentiments on Thomas’  return. “I think he scored 30-something goals last year, so to get a player of that caliber back in the lineup, it definitely boosts the morale, and gets the guys going”

It may not have been Carr’s best night recently, but for a change, his team had his back. “He’s been standing on his head,” Pelech added. “So to put up eight for him, that’s huge.”

Friday’s game was the first of eight in fifteen against the Rush, and hopefully, they can carry this momentum through all eight of them.

Tonight’s game is the official Star Wars night, where the snazzy jerseys the Grizzlies have been wearing will be auctioned off.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

Utah Grizzlies: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This weekend was really great. I went to the games in Colorado, got to meet a whole bunch of awesome Eagles fans, and see a new arena, which was tons of fun. The downside is that I didn’t have a lot of time to write. Given the quick turn-around with a game on Monday, we’re doing this a little differently.


Overview

On Friday night, the Grizzlies lost 7-3, giving up four power play goals, and generally playing badly. Kevin Carr was pulled to start the third in favour of Angus Redmond, which did nothing to stem the tide. To be fair to both goaltenders, the team in front of them gave them almost nothing to work with. However, Utah did get three even strength goals from Cliff Watson, Ryan Walters, and Greger Hanson.

On Saturday, the game was much better. Utah was engaged from start to finish, and Carr was absolutely sharp all night. It was an unfortunately familiar tale, however, when they fell 2-1 in OT.

The Good

  • Jon Puskar is back, and it took him no time at all to start putting up points. He has an assist in each of his two games back. His speed also made a difference a number of times over the weekend.
  • The first line seems to have heated up again, with seven points in the two games, Greger Hanson scoring once, and Ryan Walters scoring twice. If they can keep rolling, that’ll be huge.
  • Whether it was the return of Travis Howe to the lineup, the resurgence of the first line, the reuniting of Brendan and the Ryans, or just general motivation following a lousy outing, Saturday’s game was far better than Friday’s in terms of team play.
  • Taylor Richart and Cliff Watson lead the charge in goal-scoring on the Grizzlies. Richart has seven goals, and Watson is tied with Pelech and Hanson with six.

The Bad

  • Richart and Watson lead the the Grizzlies in goal scoring. Obviously it’s not a bad thing that they’ve scored so many goals. What is troubling, however, is that Utah has continued to have to rely on them for so much of the offensive heavy lifting.
  • On Friday, the scratches of Brad Navin, Zach Saar, and Travis Howe, as well as the return of Puskar, meant that the lines got shaken up again, and turned in what may have been the least cohesive performance we’ve seen from them all year.

The Ugly

  • The usually terrific Grizzlies’ penalty kill gave up an abysmal four goals on Friday. Fortunately, they returned to form on Saturday, giving up only 1/8. Hopefully it was a statistical anomaly, and can be ignored…
  • Brendan Harms went down early in the second period on Saturday, and had to be helped of the ice. Unsurprisingly, he  didn’t finish the game. Here’s to hoping it wasn’t anything serious.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff

Utah Grizzlies: Branham’s 12

In the second weekend series of a lengthy November home stand, Greger Hanson returned from San Diego for Friday night’s game against Colorado. As a result, the Grizzlies shuffled the lines a little, keeping Brendan and the Ryans together, but with Hanson taking Charley Graaskamp’s spot on Michael Pelech and Ryan Walters’ other wing. Erik Higby and Zach Saar were the scratches, while Jon Puskar and Rob Mann remained on reserve. Cliff Watson and Taylor Richart wore the As, and Angus Redmond got the start.

Utah played well early, picking up six shots to Colorado’s three, all the later of which were stopped in authoritative fashion by Redmond. Brendan and the Ryans, and C.J. Eick had some especially good shifts early on.

There were not many whistles, but one of the first signaled a Utah power play, drawn by Hanson at 8:30. Mere moments later, Teigan Zahn laid a huge hit on Ryan Olsen, which drew another Utah power play, giving them 1:38 on the five-on-three.

The Grizzlies were able to get set up, but were unable to capitalize, and Michael Pelech went to the box after a net-front scuffle. All the penalties were killed off, and the score remained 0-0, thanks to some really positionally solid saves from Redmond.

The two teams traded chances through the remainder of the period, but Hanson drew yet another power play, as Gabriel Verpaelst took a interference call with 3:43 to go.

Though the Grizzlies didn’t capitalize on the power play, Hanson scored the game’s first goal, unassisted at 19:14 off a turn-over.

Things got crazy after the buzzer, as Ben Storm laid a huge hit on Chris Leibinger. Mitch Jones jumped in in defence, and then Leibinger and Verpaelst dropped the gloves and had a lengthy bout. Verpaelst got the best of it, and when the dust settled, the two had gotten five for fighting, and Travis Howe got a ten minute misconduct.

It was an excellent first period from more or less the entire roster, as each line had multiple stand-out moments in the period. Utah led in shots, 15-8, as well as on the score board, thanks to Hanson’s goal. While the first two lines continued to be solid as usual, Eick and Navin played one of their best periods of the season.

The second period saw a couple of good shifts for Colorado in a row, Redmond very much held Utah in it as they struggled defensively. A speedy Eick got the Grizzlies’ first shot of the second about two minutes in, and it began a shift in momentum.

The Grizzlies began to absolutely fly around shortly thereafter, as first Hanson got in ahead of the Eagles, but had the puck stolen at the last moment. Then Graaskamp, Eick, and Navin charged in three-on-two, and just missed an opportunity there as well.

Unfortunately Joey Ratelle made it 1-1 at 6:09, yet again, just off a face-off on a great shot from the point. Navin took a holding penalty shortly thereafter which Utah killed off.

Olsen rang the crossbar on a nice up-ice shift from Brendan and the Ryans, but Colorado went the other way and took the 2-1 lead.

The Grizzlies responded with a couple of strong shifts from the Navin and Pelech lines.

Utah drew a power play at 14:28, and Hanson scored his second on the power play to tie the game with 4:14 left in the period.

After 40, shots were 26-23 for Utah, and the game was, once again, tied.

The Grizzlies and the Eagles traded chances through the first half of the third, but both teams played some pretty sloppy hockey throughout the period.

Utah pulled it together a bit towards the middle of the frame, and the Pelech, Hanson, Walters line got a couple of good shifts. As a result of their work, the line drew a power play at 11:19. Although they didn’t score, Hanson got a couple more looks.

The back half of the third was much the same as the first half, both teams having chances, but regulation time wasn’t enough to break the deadlock.

As they had in regulation, both teams exchanged opportunities, but Verpaelst got the win two-on-one. Utah took one point with the 3-2 OT loss, shots 34-32.

“That’s extremely frustrating for me.” Tim Branham said of yet another goal off the face-off. “I felt that we played one period of hockey, and had we outworked that team you could completely dominate them.”

“When you get scored on off face-offs, you’re just not ready.” He added. “The overtime goal? Just not ready to go. I thought Redmond was pretty good, I thought he made some good saves, I thought their goalie made some good saves. We need to make sure that we can sustain our work ethic for a full 60 minutes plus, ’cause we only played one period tonight.”

With three penalties drawn, two goals, and three shots, Greger Hanson was the game’s first star, like Ryan Walters, scoring two in his return from the AHL.

While Utah struggled at times throughout the second and third, there were still some bright spots.

Brad Navin, C.J. Eick, and Travis Howe all had good shifts, playing well on both sides of the puck. Navin and Howe both set up nice scoring chances, and Eick’s speed, as always, helped shift momentum several times during the game.

Angus Redmond had possibly one of his best games in the Grizzlies uniform, holding the team in it at several points throughout the game, and making some solid saves.

The Grizzlies and the Eagles will face off again tonight (Saturday) at the Mav. The Grizzlies will be wearing their Mighty Ducks/Angel’s Hands jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game, and it’s also Pooch on the Pond night!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard & Jess Fleming