Utah Grizzlies vs Rapid City: Unfortunately, Carlson

Another night, another game against Rapid City, but with a slight difference. Both J.T. Henke and Jack Walker returned to the lineup for the first time since February 9th and January 30th respectively, and Kevin Carr got the start. The returns meant that for the first time in forever not only did Utah dress sixteen skaters, but they dressed sixteen skaters all playing their actual positions.

First Period

  • A LOT of offensive zone pressure for RC here…
  • Jack Walker getting a great chance very early on in his return game.
  • Oh man, Caleb Herbert didn’t miss by much there.
  • Carr with a big save.
  • Everyone seems to be showing a lot more offensive creativity than we’ve been seeing lately.
  • It’s really nice to have all three lines able to create offense again.
  • WHAT A SAVE FROM KEVIN.
  • After that first shift or so, Utah’s definitely been more dangerous and spent less time in their zone.
  • That and Kevin Carr is ON tonight.
  • Did you know Micahel Economos had mitts like that? (Unfortunately, Adam Carlson is up to his usual tricks.)
  • WILL SMITH BEATS CARLSON. There will be no RC shutout tonight.

  • Assists go to Jake Marchment and Gabriel Verpaelst. Does that make them that 20s line like the Kings had that 70s line a while back? (Verpaelst being a defenseman aside…)
  • Hey Schorny, did you sew Velcro to Carr’s jersey? He’s pretty much allowing nothing by way of rebounds.
  • The Rush have had most of the shots since Smith’s goal. That does not bode well.
  • Taylor Richart objects to the traffic around Carr and is sent to the box for roughing.
  • Carr makes a bunch of big saves on one side of the net, but the Rush slip one past him on the other to tie it up on the advantage.
  • Shots are 13-9 for RC after 20, tied 1-1.

Second Period

  • Henke with a nice shot for the first of the period.
  • …Why is it ALWAYS Cedric Montminy?
  • Please go play in the other zone for a while.
  • Perfect pass from Smith to Eric Freschi, Carlson stops it though.
  • Smith is having himself a game. A couple of good moves from him in the defensive zone.
  • Really though, please go spend more time in the offensive zone.
  • Economos with a snappy little shot there. Unfortunately, Carlson.
  • Another beautiful save from Kevin there.
  • So you know that thing we said about Will Smith? It’s relevant again.
  • I would not want to be anyone watching a Turner Ottenbreit shot coming towards my head.
  • Oy, do not elbow Moose! Go sit in the box and feel shame.
  • Freschi’s got a couple of pretty good looks tonight as well.

Third Period

  • Walker with those WHEELS almost ties it up. Except Carlson. Again.
  • That Herb Brooks speech, except about Carlson.
  • Carr with a couple more nice saves.
  • Walker with a bad giveaway, and a great and immediate takeaway.
  • Herbert with a nearly nifty play there.
  • Hero block by Richy leads directly to a great chance from Ryan Walters.
  • That’s the offensive zone pressure the Grizzlies have needed this game.
  • Shots are 6-1 for Utah through the first six minutes.
  • Josh Anderson has improved so much from the start of the season.
  • Very few whistles this period. Shots are now 8-2 for Utah with 8:40 to go
  • They’re getting more shots, but it feels like fewer dangerous chances.
  • And then, of course, Carlson.
  • That’s the third minor Taylor Crunk has taken this game.
  • Ottenbreit’s reach is seriously impressive when he extends himself all the way.
  • Grizz pull Carr for the extra skater, but no dice, despite hitting 43 shots, and limiting the Rush to just three shots in the third.
  • Utah falls 2-1.

“We gotta work, we gotta work like we did in the third period.” Tim Branham said after the game. “I thought we played a really good first ten minutes and then a good last 20. SO we took thirty minutes off there in between, and when you play half a game, you leave it to chance, so we’ve got to make sure we play a full sixty minutes, and play motivated hockey.”

There might have been some lapses throughout the game, but several players definitely stood out. One of them was obviously Carr, and another was Will Smith. “He’s getting better and better every day, that’s for sure,” said Branham of the lone goal scorer. “We talk about it with him all the time, he’s getting more and more confidence and doing what he needs to do, and he scored our goal tonight. We need our best players to be our best players, but it’s nice to get the scoring from our depth guys.”

Josh Anderson’s play has been more and more noticeable as he’s gotten more ice time through the back half of the season, and last night was no exception. “That’s what he needs to do, he needs to play. He’s a young D-man, not even old enough to drink! He’s here to play hockey and to learn, and to get better, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

So they’ve been playing better against Carlson, but the Grizzlies are going to have to do something about him in the next two games. “It seems like he’s got our number right now” Smith said about Carlson. “It’s pretty tough to get pucks by him, he’s a really good goalie. I think what we talked about is getting more traffic in front of him so he can’t see it. Just keeping it really simple, just throwing pucks at him, at his feet, whatever we can do, having guys there. Coach said it in between periods today. It may not necessarily be the first shot that goes in, but it might be the second or third or even fourth rebound that might go in. So we’ve just gotta get in front of him and cause havoc there.” That is, in fact, exactly what Smith himself did on his third goal of the season.

When asked about the noticeable uptick in the quality of his play, he said, “I think the first few games I was here I was a little bit tentative. Any time you get to a new team you try to fit in where you fit in, just in the locker room. It was actually nice coming here cause I played with Economos last year and he really helped smooth things over for me, but first couple of weekends, I just didn’t feel like I was playing to my full potential, I was a little bit nervous. Then in the last little while here, I feel like I’m fitting in a bit more with the guys on the team and that just changes everything — it changes the way you play on the ice, and feeling more comfortable for sure.”

This is the first time in quite a while that the Grizzlies have dressed six defensemen and ten actual forwards thanks to the return of Henke and Walker, and while they didn’t score, you could definitely notice the increase in offensive opportunities that their return brought all the way through the lineup. Of their return, Smith said, “That’s huge, cause we’ve got a lot of really talented guys who have been out. Since I’ve been here I haven’t really seen them, to be honest. But Henke, I’m living with him, and I checked his stats, and he’s got over a point per game, 30 in 30 or whatever it is, so he’s a guy who would obviously help our offence, and when you don’t have a guy like that in the lineup it definitely affects the outcome for sure, and guys playing out of position, playing with a limited number of guys, it just adds a little bit of adversity to what we’re trying to do. Those guys are coming back and you see them in practice and they’re getting better, it’s exciting for our team.”

Utah’s got two more meetings against Rapid City on Saturday and Monday, and from the post-game comments, it’s clear they know what they need to do. It’ll just be a matter of execution.

 

Goals

First Period: Will Smith (Verpaelst, Marchment)

UTA: 0/4 (6 MIN)
RC: 1/2 (10 MIN)

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Utah Grizzlies @ Rapid City Rush: Uneventful

On Wednesday night, the Grizzlies found themselves facing the Rush for the ninth time this season, and the first of six straight games with something resembling a full lineup. Although they didn’t get Grayson Downing back, and Joey Raats was out with an illness both players traveled with the team, and they did get Jake Marchment back. Gabriel Verpaelst made his 2019 return to the Grizzlies as well, while Joe Cannata got the start.

First Period

  • Rush have the Grizz not quite on their heels, but RC has the first four shots.
  • Cannata has been quite sharp though.
  • Marchment gets the first shot for Utah, and it’s a nice one. Unfortunately, Adam Carlson is a good goalie.
  • First penalty of the game for Utah. Let’s see if they can keep their penalty kill streak going.
  • And again…
  • Better possession following that second penalty kill. Still only three shots though.
  • Great defensive move by Turner Ottenbreit to break up a one-on-none without taking a penalty.
  • Too much defensive zone time…lots of hitting on both sides though.
  • 9-3 are shots for RC after a scoreless first period. Cannata’s been good.

Second Period

  • You know who I miss? Austin Carroll. #ChaosOnSkates (Well, him and everyone else who’s been out for half a century.)
  • Dickinson wastes absolutely no time getting the Grizzlies’ first shot of the second. (Actually, Chris Leibinger won the face-off so hard it counted as a shot on his own net. Where have we heard this before…)
  • Not only is defenseman Leibinger playing forward, he’s playing center. How interesting.
  • Good offensive zone shifts for the Grizzlies to start here.
  • Can’t wait for the skills competition to see what that booming shot of Ottenbreit’s clocks in at.
  • Shots are now 11-10 for RC, and Gage Ausmus draws a power play by taking a stick to the face.
  • Take two on the power play is not going very well to start…
  • Shots are now 11-11, so that’s good.
  • This second period is much better for Utah than the first. Unfortunately, Carlson has been every bit as good as Cannata.
  • Watching Caleb Herbert stick-handle is mesmerizing.
  • Refs are definitely letting both sides play through what should probably have been penalties. At least they’re being consistent–which at the end of the day is all you can really ask for.
  • Please someone in white score a goal…
  • This game is gonna end 1-0 in the shoot out, isn’t it.
  • You guys…I said someone wearing white
  • 1-0 Rapid City after two.

Third Period

  • Please go play on the other end of the ice, boys.
  • Everyone falls down. Utah draws a power play though. I think that is the second penalty Eric Freschi has drawn this game.
  • Herbert gets hooked on what was nearly a breakaway, so they’re headed to the power play again.
  • This is definitely one of their better power plays tonight. No goal though.
  • Please someone tie this game up.
  • This game is turning into a bit of a track meet. Lots of up and down and up and down.
  • Some big hits from the Utah defensemen this game!
  • Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout
  • Not a lot of whistles this period. Lots of hard skating too.
  • Gah! Oh thank you, post.
  • It’s just one goal, but time is starting to run out…
  • Well, I guess we’re gonna close this game out radio style seeing as we’ve got a black screen…
  • Utah’s net is empty.
  • Well, no empty netter for RC, but no tie game for Utah either.
  • Grizzlies fall 1-0 in what might be the lowest scoring (and possibly most uneventful) game all season.

At the end of the day, both teams played strong defensive games, and Adam Carlson was just that one save better. It was good to get Marchment back, and Verpaelst looked very good on defense, which is certainly a good sign. Neither team gave up anything on the penalty kill (Utah is now 33/33 in the last six games), and the coming games should be good ones.

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.

 


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Utah Grizzlies vs. Rapid City: Terrible Turnovers

Game one of the first home stand of December saw some new faces in the lineup for the Grizzlies Julien Nantel joined the team, Jack Walker made his home debut, Tim McGauley sat, possibly as a result of the play that saw him leave the game on the 22nd, and Joe Cannata got the start.

The new Cole Ully, Caleb Herbert, Julien Nantel line rang iron and looked dangerous in their first shift, but Ryan Misiak’s cross-crease pass landed square on the stick of Andrew Radjenovic, and though Cannata got the first shot, Radjenovic put the puck over him and into the net.

Utah got a power play at 3:20 and got a number of great looks, but the Rush returned to full strength with no change in score.

The Rush took over the shot lead about half-way through the first period, and made it 2-0 with exactly eight minutes to go after a sprawling Turner Ottenbreit was completely unable to break up the pass.

Ryan Walters took a hooking call exactly 46 seconds later and Richart took a puck up high. The bad news was that Rapid City immediately made it 3-0, but the good news was that Richart returned to the ice pretty quickly. With about 5:30 to go, Zahn elbowed a Rush player and dropped the gloves with Shaquille Merasty. Both got five, and Zahn got an additional two which Utah killed off.

The end of the period, the Rush led 3-0, out-shooting Utah 13-6. Although the Grizzlies’ defense certainly was lacking in the period, Joe Cannata was also uncharacteristically bad, seeming to have difficulty finding the puck on multiple occasions.

The second period saw the Grizzlies come out with some speed and physicality, and they did a better job of bottling things up in the neutral zone.

The speed of Jack Walker drew a hooking call at 2:39, but turnovers continued to plague the team, and Rapid City returned to full strength with no change in score.

Ottenbreit dropped the gloves with Josh Elmes at 7:42 and the two headed to the box, Ottenbreit receiving some enthusiastic cheers for his efforts.

In the following minutes the Grizzlies got some of their best looks of the game. Unfortunately, however, they weren’t able to beat Rush players to the puck on the rebounds or beat Adam Carlson.

After the Utah pressure, De Jong took a delay of game penalty at 13:42 but the penalty killers played very aggressively and kept the man advantage from looking dangerous. Once De Jong got out of the box, the Grizzlies kept pressuring, and it paid off at 16:48. Cole Ully wired the puck past Carlson for his tenth of the year from Ryan Walters and Joey Raats.

Fortunately, the Grizzlies looked more cohesive through the second, out-shooting the Rush 13-6 in the period.

The Grizzlies came out buzzing in the third, Walters, Ully, and Herbert coming just inches away from beating Carlson in the opening moments.

The early hustle drew an interference call at 1:09, and by the time the Rush returned to full strength, the Grizzlies had jumped out to a 7-0 shot lead in six minutes.

Utah continued to pressure, but Ully took a high-sticking call at 10:38 in the offensive zone. It didn’t really matter though, as the penalty killers kept the Rush fighting for the puck in their own zone.

Despite continuing to play better, a late power play, and pulling Cannata for the extra attacker, the Grizzlies were unable to beat Carlson again, falling 3-1.

In the end, it was the egregious turnovers in the first period that doomed Utah, together with their inability to get more than one past Carlson. However, it was good to see them pull together in the second and third and look more like the team we’re accustomed to seeing, even though they didn’t score.

The team looks to rebound tonight and Saturday in the next two games of the home stand.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Game Recap(s): Revenge Was Sweet

With Matt Berry, Austin Carroll, Kevin Davis, Josh Anderson, and Travis Barron all up with various AHL teams, Joey Raats and R.T. Rice drew back in. Ryan Misiak also returned from injury, and Kevin Carr got the start against Idaho.

Misiak made his mark early, putting Utah up 1-0 just 20 seconds in from Taylor Richart. Idaho tied it up at 7:49, as the Grizzlies defense faltered a moment. Kyle Schempp took a hooking call at 9:39, but the power play wasn’t able to come up with anything before Idaho returned to full strength.

Carr made a big save as an Idaho player got past the defensemen, and Josh Dickinson took a slashing call at 12:52. Utah killed that off, and Carr made some big saves to follow that up.

Overall, the period was pretty back-and-forth, neither team looking particularly dazzling. Idaho held the slight edge in shots, 16-13 after 20 in the 1-1 game.

By the five minute mark of the second, shots were tied 18-18 in what continued to be a pretty even game.

The officials let them play through some clutching and grabbing, and by the half-way point in the second, the shots were 20-20 with no change in score.

Elgin Pearce picked up the puck on a turnover, putting the puck past Carr at 13:15, but Walters struck exactly a minute later to tie it up on a tight angle. Cole Ully and Jack Walker got the assists.

Caleb Herbert drew some ire at the buzzer, leading a bit of a crowd, and after 40, shots were 24-23 for Idaho in the 2-2 game.

Mitch Moroz tripped up Taylor Richart in front of Carr, and Utah went to the power play. The man advantage looked pretty lackluster, and the Steelheads returned to full strength.

Kyle Schempp made it 3-2 at 7:01, but though a couple of players got some good looks (most notably a pair from Gage Ausmus) the Grizzlies were unable to get another goal on Scholl. With just over a minute to go, Carr went to the bench, but Steven McParland scored into the empty net.

Misiak didn’t look at all rusty coming back in his first game since November 9th. Ausmus had what was perhaps his most obviously good game of the year, and Richart was his steady self.

In Saturday’s game, the skaters remained the same, while Joe Cannata got the start.

The game got off to another good start, though it took longer for for Utah to get the goal. Cole Ully banged in Josh Dickinson’s rebound at 2:42, while Caleb Herbert picked up his 17th assist on the goal.

Two minutes later, R.T. Rice got a roughing call, but before he could be sent off, Kale Kessy challenged him and they dropped the gloves. What would have been an Idaho power play instead sent them off for fighting and Kessy got an instigation penalty which kept the game at even strength.

Though the Grizzlies looked pretty good, Idaho broke in and Herbert picked up a hooking call. Exactly half-way through the period, and just seven seconds into the advantage, Idaho beat Cannata to tie the game.

Both teams got chances, as the period continued and once again, the officials let them play through things on both sides.

With 1:05 to go, Ryan Walters hauled down an Idaho player at center ice and was sent to the box for holding. The Grizzlies prevented the Steelheads from threatening, and after 20, the game was tied 1-1, shots 14-11 for Idaho.

Utah killed off the remaining 55 seconds of Walters’ penalty to begin the second, allowing no shots on the advantage. Idaho did get the first four shots of the period thereafter, however, as the Steelheads attacked early.

Rice cross-checked an Idaho player at 3:28 after a whistle, and went to the box, but Idaho was unable to get anything going, and he returned to the ice with no damage done. Utah got a power play of their own at 7:56 when Clint Lewis cross-checked Ryan Misiak, then got 1:12 of 5-on-3 when Elgin Pearce tripped up Taylor Richart.

The Grizzlies set up well initially, but were unable to turn the advantage into anything substantial on the board.

It didn’t matter though, as Herbert made it 2-1 on a nice centering pass from Dickinson, Ausmus getting the secondary assist on Herbert’s 18th.

Absolute mayhem broke out behind the Utah net at 13:06, and it took them some time to sort everything out. Rice got two for roughing, while Mitch Moroz got four for roughing, and a ten minute misconduct. Once again the power play came up empty, though this one looked a little more organized, and led to some good Utah momentum through the end of the second.

In the final moments of the second, Tim McGauley was hit up high and though he headed off under his own steam, he went down the tunnel and didn’t return in the third.

Herbert opened the period with a picture perfect, back-hand, five-hole goal just 42 seconds into the third. Spurred on by the lead, the Grizzlies put up five shots to Idaho’s none in the first five minutes of the period. Joey Raats took a holding call at 5:18, but the penalty killers were very active and killed it off well.

At 9:20, J.T. Henke flew in on a two-on-one with Jack Walker for his first in a Utah uniform. Marchment made it 5-1 from Teigan Zahn at 12:14 to complete the unexpected rout, and Rice and Moroz ended their nights early. Rice got five for fighting, while Moroz got two ten minute game misconducts for instigating in the final five, being the aggressor, and two for instigating in addition to his five.

Walters took a slashing call with less than two to go, but it made no difference to the score.

Herbert (2 goals, 1 assist, 6 shots) and Dickinson (2 assists) got first and second stars of the night and Cannata made 30/31 saves. Turner Ottenbreit also put up six shots, while Ausmus was +4 on the night and R.T. Rice got 16 penalty minutes.

Herbert (36 points) and Ully (31 points) now lead the league in points, Herbert also holding the lead in goals scored while Ully leads in assists. Additionally, Utah closed out the weekend series on a high note, taking over sole possession of the top spot in the Mountain Division, and tying the Toledo Walleye for first in the Western Conference. Moreover, they improved to 14-4-3-1 and ended Idaho’s winning streak.

The Grizzlies are off until Wednesday when they will take on Rapid City at home.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

 

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: Cran-Berry Sauce

The day before Thanksgiving saw the first meeting of the season between Utah and the formerly mighty Allen Americans. J.T. Henke drew in for his first game in a Grizzlies uniform, while Brendan Harms and Ryan Misiak sat out, and Joe Cannata once again got the start.

The Grizzlies struck first, Matt Berry scoring his seventh of the season at 5:03 from Caleb Herbert.

Alexandre Ranger took a slashing call against Cannata after a whistle, and though the Grizzlies’ power play didn’t strike, Berry got his second of the game at 10:26, this time from Tim McGauley.

Not to be outdone by his line-mate, Herbert scored his 14th of the season at 11:58 from Berry and Cole Ully.

In the dying seconds of the first, Ryan Walters and McGauley got in on a two-on-one, and in a fast becoming familiar move, McGauley was hauled down. Allen got a tripping call, and the period came to an end.

In a period that was all Utah, offensively, the Grizzlies also did an excellent job cutting off passing lanes, getting in the way of shots, and generally keeping pucks away from Cannata, such that at the end of the first, shots were 7-3.

The power play to start the second was unable to muster a shot. Allen beat Cannata, but was unable to beat the crossbar with about three gone in the second. Herbert was hauled down at 8:06, and though the Grizzlies got a shot, the most notable moment of the advantage was Cannata and Jeremy Brodeur playing long distance ping pong with the puck.

Walters continues to be snake-bitten, getting his second point-blank look on Brodeur in the period. Going the other way, a sprawling defenseman was unable to break up the pass on a two-on-one, but Cannata turned the puck aside, and the Grizzlies whisked the rebound out of danger.

Berry picked up the team’s first hat trick of the year, when he buried a play from Ully. Herbert got the secondary assist as the hats rained down.

Following the goal first Teigan Zahn then Turner Ottenbreit took hooking calls, leading to almost a minute of five-on-three time, but Cannata and the Utah killers killed both penalties off.

Herbert went off the ice very gingerly with about five minutes left in the period, and went straight down the tunnel.

Shortly thereafter, there were a couple of big hits, and Jacob Doty tangled with Zahn. The only outcome was that Doty was assessed a two and a ten for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Grizzlies went to the power play. They were unable to capitalize, though on the plus side, Herbert returned to the ice.

With 14 seconds left, Josh Anderson and Josh Atkinson tangled beside Cannata’s net, but only Anderson was sent to the box to end the period. After 40, Utah outshot Allen 16-8, and had a commanding 4-0 lead.

Allen got their first offensive pressure of the game early in the third, and at  Ryan Walters took a very soft tripping call. Austin Carroll had a dandy jaunt into the offensive zone all by himself that culminated in a very glorious short-handed chance, and Utah killed it off.

Mike Gunn took a high-sticking call at 13:01, and goaded Carroll into matching roughing calls. Allen killed off their penalty, though the Grizzlies got a couple of looks. Cannata continued to be a rock in net, and Utah continued to be very sound defensively.

The game got a bit nasty after that, Doty taking a roughing call with exactly two minutes to go, followed by Gunn exactly a minute later. In the dying moments of the game, Dalton Thrower socked R.T. Rice in the face, and got thrown out with a ten minute penalty for attempt/deliberate injury, and the game ended in chaos.

Matt Berry was named the first star of the game with the hat trick and an assist, while Herbert got the second star, and Ully the third. Joe Cannata got his second shut out in a row, and Taylor Richart had one of his more obviously stand-out performances.

“It feels pretty special. I’ve never done that before,” said the first star after the game, “So it feels good, and it was just good for our team to get the win out there today,”

“Obviously that top line is pretty dynamic, speed, skill, goal scoring ability, they’re unbelievable when they’re playing.” Tim Branham said of his first line’s nine point performance. “Joe, he’s Joe Cannata. What can you say. He’s just an unbelievable goaltender. He had more shots than 18, that’s for sure, I think they missed a bunch. It was a good effort by the boys. I thought we did a lot of good things, and when we had breakdowns, Joe was there to back us up. All in all, it was a good effort.”

When asked specifically about the first star of the game, he said “Matt was buzzing. When we had him three years ago, he was probably our best player in playoffs. He can skate, he can score, when he plays with pace he’s tough to handle. And then you put him on a line with Herbert and Ully, and it’s just, those guys are special,” he added with a chuckle. “Those guys are special. They have good chemistry together, and we’re lucky to have them on our team.”

It was by no means a perfect game, but overall the team played a strong defensive game. “We got up early in that game, and at that point,  you’re trying to stay in it. Allen, Allen’s got potential, so we knew there was gonna be some kind of push, or at least physical play, so we had to be on our toes. There were some breakdowns. You’re not gonna play a perfect game, that’s true. Could we have done a few things differently? Yeah. But overall, I thought it was a good team effort. I mean, any time you get back-to-back shut outs in this league, at this level, it’s a good thing. I know we have Joe in net, which helps, but I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Berry’s thoughts on the defensive effort were similar. “The D zone is a five-man, or a six-man unit, so everyone has to come back and help out, and I think everyone is getting used to the system or getting more acclimated with it, so we’re all playing all the same way and playing together, and I think it’s showing there out on the ice.”

Regardless of the cause, whatever the Grizzlies are doing is certainly working for them, as they are now 10-2-3-0 on the year.

They will face Allen on Friday and Saturday, and all signs point to a very chippy weekend ahead.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Flemming and staff.