Utah Grizzlies @ Tulsa Oilers: March-ing Onward

In game two of the Tulsa series, and the battle for second place in the Mountain Division, the roster remained the same, as did the lines.

First Period

  • Eric Freschi getting manhandled in the corner, not sure it’s penalty worthy, but not sure it’s not penalty worthy…
  • Ick. Not sure about that defensive coverage there. 1-0 Tulsa.
  • Good response from Utah though. Strong shift in the offensive zone.
  • Taylor Richart with a nice move to strip the puck from an Oilers player and start a rush up ice.
  • Josh Dickinson draws a power play!
  • MCGAULEY GOAL!! Fitzpatrick bit on Caleb Herbert, and Tim McGauley made good on the cross-crease pass.
  • Teigan Zahn taking his sweeeeeeet time behind the Utah net, haha.
  • Another Utah power play, but it’s negated.
  • Jake Marchment and Ryan Walters counter-punching short-handed is always great to see.
  • Taylor Richart is free with no official shots allowed on the PK!
  • Mike Economos with the hustle.
  • They’ve flipped the script in shots tonight, sort of. After 20 shots are 20-7 for the Grizzlies, score 1-1.

Second Period

  • LOTS OF PENALTIES.
  • Or just one. That’s anticlimactic. On the other hand, we’ll take the power play.
  • Austin Carroll doing what he does best, creating chaos. A little too much chaos there though, and he’s off to the box.
  • Jack Walker to the room. That’s not a good sign. Hopefully he’s back for the third…
  • Carroll drops the gloves with Scott Moldenhauer!
  • Dickinson draws a double minor.
  • Herbert takes a roughing call after a kerfuffle around the Tulsa net.
  • Marchy doing what he does best, scoring on Tulsa. It was a very nice backhand.
  • Utah’s been pretty aggressive overall so far.

Third Period

  • Another power play drawn by Dickinson.
  • Richart falls over, and still makes the play.
  • You get a high-stick, you get a high-stick! EVERYBODY GETS A HIGH-STICK!
  • ECONOMOS WITH A BREAKAWAY. No goal, but he does draw another power play.
  • Oh geez. Short-handed goal for Tulsa ties it up.
  • And the Oilers are pressing.
  • I swear, every game Economos seems to have gotten a step or two faster.
  • ERIC GIVES US A FRESCHI LEAD.

  • (Sorry, so not sorry)
  • Oh god. Cannata…be ok…
  • At the very least, Cannata is hockey ok, so that’s good news.
  • Walters with the latest of a series of good shots he’s had this game.
  • RICHART SCORES.
  • Wait. No he doesn’t. And Zahn is down, and Zahn takes a penalty. WHAT EVEN IS HAPPENING.
  • And now Richart for delay of game.
  • Internal screaming.
  • Empty net for Tulsa…
  • More internal screaming.
  • Marchment with the face-off win, Ausmus with the clear…
  • EMPTY NETTER FOR JAKE.
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 4-2!!!

Freschi (the game winning goal and six shots) and Herbert (two assists, six shots) were named first and second stars of the game, though Marchment certainly could have been a star as well, what with his two goals (granted, one into an empty net), and several crucial late-game face-offs. Cannata also played well, making 25/27 saves. Utah now stands tied with the Oilers for second in the division, though they hold four games in hand on their rival. They trail Idaho by only one point, and have a game in hand on them as well.

Now the Grizzlies head to Wichita for the final two games of the road trip.

Photo courtesy of Josh Pinnau.

Utah Grizzlies @ Tulsa Oilers: Holding the Fort

With the returns of Kevin Davis and Joe Cannata, the blue line got a bit crowded, and possibly as a result, Nolan De Jong sat this one out.

First Period

  • Good start for Utah, equally good start for Evan Fitzpatrick, unfortunately.
  • Fortunately, Cannata is looking good too.
  • Breakaway for Herbert, Fitzpatrick makes the save. Again.
  • That was a very nice move by Carroll to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
  • Tim Mcgauley clearly has some beef against Tulsa! His second fight of the season comes against Alex Kromm! He had not yet begun to fight, but the refs break it up.
  • The play is quite physical already.
  • Tulsa has put their foot down, and has doubled up on shots in the back half of this period.
  • MARCHY ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • Good first period for Utah, despite getting outshot 12-5. Cannata definitely has had to be sharp.

Second Period

  • Good kill to open the period. McGauley, especially, was strong.
  • …Well…that’s not a great goal.
  • 15-5 are the shots for Tulsa, that’s not ideal either.
  • Between Walker’s wheels, and some saves by Cannata, we’ve got another good kill.
  • Shots are now 20-8 for Tulsa…They’ve been able to set up in Utah’s zone for long stretches throughout the game.
  • Cannata is still looking strong, which is probably why this game is still tied.
  • Taylor, the puck is supposed to go into the net, not you!
  • Another good penalty kill to end a period.

Third Period

  • Cannata turns aside a short-handed odd-man rush.
  • That’s the second power play Ottenbreit has drawn this game.
  • Josh Anderson scores his first pro goal to put the Grizzlies up 2-1!!
  • Marchment is a fight away from a Gordie Howe hat trick, and McGauley just needs a goal for one.
  • Everyone from both sides is falling over in the Utah end. Turns out ice is super slippery! XD
  • Oilers’ net is empty…
  • Oh Richart did NOT miss the empty net by much.
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 2-1!!!

Jake Marchment and Joe Cannata were named first and second star of the game. Utah looks to complete the visit with a sweep before heading to Wichita.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

Utah Grizzlies Game Recap: Lackluster

Coming off a 6-5 shoot out loss with Joe Cannata in net, and a 5-4 SO win with Kevin Carr in net, the Grizzlies looked to close out the Rapid City road trip with a winning record. With Kevin Davis and Josh Anderson both called up to the Eagles Utah played short-handed with just five defensemen, but J.T. Henke drew in, so the Grizzlies also dressed ten forwards for the first time in quite a while.

The game got off to a pretty good start, Utah picking up six shots to the Rush’s three in the first ten minutes or so. At 9:59, Michael Turner took a tripping call, and Utah headed off to the power play. Josh Dickinson got the only official shot on the advantage, and Cannata made a big save on Turner who came flying down the ice fresh out of the box.

Despite the shot advantage, it was the Rush who struck first, Riley Weslowski making it rain stuffed animals, as it was teddy bear toss night, as well as Guns ‘n Hoses night in Rapid City.

Cannata looked a little shaky at times through the first, but the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Rush, even after Turner Ottenbreit headed to the box at 14:18, then again at 17:27. Twenty seconds later, Teigan Zahn laid a big hit, Weslowski took exception, and the two dropped the gloves. With Zahn sent to the locker room and Ottenbreit in the box, the Grizzlies played with three defensemen for all but the last thirty seconds or so of the frame.

After the first, Rapid City led 1-0, out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-10.

Turner took a hooking call on Nolan De Jong at 1:05, sending Utah to an early, and ultimately futile power play. After Zahn, Weselowski, and Turner all left the box, De Jong took a slashing call, and Saquille Merasty scored on the ensuing power play.

Rapid City iced the puck twice in a row at about the seven minute mark, and Utah pressured, cycling well though picking up no shots.

Just around the half-way point, first Jake Marchment and then Matt Berry got nice looks, but Adam Carlson remained strong. The foot-speed of Cole Ully drew a slashing call at 11:34. It was, probably, their best up until that point, but once again they came up empty.

Utah drew a power play, though probably one they would have preferred to go without, as Ottenbreit went down very hard behind the Utah net and had to be helped off the ice at 15:19.

The Grizzlies looked pretty good following the power play, cycling the puck and getting a couple of looks, eventually leading to a hooking call against Weselowski. Unfortunately, Ully took a high-sticking call with forty seconds to go.

After a period that didn’t go particularly well, Utah continued to trail 2-0, shots 20-18 for the Rush.

Matt Berry came flying out of the gate off the opening face-off, and Ottenbreit returned to the ice a few shifts in. Ottenbreit took another penalty, tripping this time, at 4:25. Utah killed it off.

By the time there was only seven minutes left, Utah had tied up the shots 25-25, but still remained unable to put one past Carlson.

Ully drew another power play with just about five to go. They rang iron on the advantage but came up empty once again. The Grizzlies pulled Cannata for the extra attacker right as the power play came to an end, and the Rush scored into the empty net.

Garrett Klotz tried to goad Ottenbreit into a fight for reasons unknown with just under two minutes left, and shortly thereafter, chaos descended. Weirdly, since they were up 3-0, the Rush got a little nasty at the end of what had been largely a reasonable game. A scrum ensued with less than 20 seconds left, that resulted in Quintin Lisoway getting a roughing call, while Austin Carroll was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.

At the final buzzer, the Rush had done an unfortunately perfect job of shutting down the most potent offense in the league for the 3-0 victory, handing the Grizzlies their first regulation loss against a Mountain Division opponent all year.

While it obviously wasn’t Utah’s best night, it certainly wasn’t their worst either. They team returns home with three of six possible points and a 13-3-3-1 record before they head back on the road to play Idaho next weekend.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

 

 

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: Black Friday Winners

After Thanksgiving, the Eagles assigned forward Josh Dickinson to the Grizzlies, and he drew in with Tim McGauley and Matt Berry to start. A white-hot Joe Cannata got the start once again.

Josh Anderson took the game’s first penalty, a cross-checking call at 3:20, and the Grizzlies headed off to what would be the first of many special teams situations. The kill did decently, though at the tail end, Cannata had to make some big saves, including one that looked like it was absolutely going in. When Anderson returned to the ice, Allen had jumped to a 7-0 shot lead.

Berry rectified that, absolutely flying in, taking a pass from McGauley, and getting a very nice look on Jeremy Brodeur.

Allen looked far more organized than they did on Wednesday, and as a result, both teams had trouble setting up in the offensive zone, battling it out in the neutral zone as the period drew towards the half-way point. However, after giving up those initial seven shots, the Grizzlies did much better job getting in the way in their own end.

As is becoming gloriously regular, Caleb Herbert and Cole Ully raced into the offensive zone, passed the puck back and forth en-rout to the net, and Herbert buried and absolute beauty for his 15th goal of the year right around the eight minute mark.

J.T. Henke just missed getting his first as a Grizz, and Cannata made a big save on the other end. Ully set up Taylor Richart for the perfect point shot with just over two to go, but Utah was just unable to snatch possession of the ensuing rebound.

After 20, Utah led 1-0, and had cut down Allen’s shot lead to 13-10.

After a vigorous, but clean first period, the second got off to a cantankerous start. Cannata made a huge save, trapping a perilously loose puck with his legs, and Teigan Zahn and Jacob Doty dropped the gloves as a crowd gathered. At the one minute mark, Josh Thrower took a tripping penalty against Austin Carroll, and then took an unsportsmanlike penalty on top of that, so the Grizzlies headed to a four minute power play.

Utah wasn’t able to get anything going in the early stages, but at 4:46 Ully put the puck on Matt Berry’s stick, and it was off again and in the back of the net before Brodeur could do anything about it.

Spencer Asuchak took a slashing call during the play, so Utah headed right back to the advantage. They were unable to capitalize, but immediately after Allen returned to full strength, Joel Chouinard held up Herbert, leading to another Grizzlies power play.

No sooner had that penalty come to an end then Josh Atkinson took a call, and Austin Carroll made the Americans pay on the delayed penalty. Ully got his fourth assist of the game, while Marchment picked up his ninth point in ten games.

Atkinson finally made it to the box, and Richart made it 4-0 on an absolute bomb less than a minute later. Berry picked up the first assist, and Josh Dickinson got his first point on the secondary.

Less than a minute after Richart’s goal, David Makowski took a clipping call against Carroll in what was dangerously close to knee-on-knee hit. Fortunately, Carroll was back on the ice to start the advantage, but the Grizzlies couldn’t capitalize.

Ryan Walters took a hooking call at 16:01 and Ully nearly added a short-handed goal to his three assists before Utah killed off the rest of the penalty.

Richart and the defenders shut the period down after that, and headed into the locker room up 4-0, shots 24-22 in their favor.

The Grizzlies didn’t take their foot off the gas into the third period, as Herbert scored his second of the game on Ully’s fourth assist. Nolan De Jong got the second assist on Herbert’s 16th.

Zahn returned to the box for holding at 3:13, but Cannata made some big saves on one side, and Berry had a speedy look short-handed on the other.

Utah got their seventh power play of the night at 7:15 when Greg Chase took an unsportsmanlike penalty. Allen killed it off, and Utah killed off the following penalty to Carroll.

Cannata made more and more saves as the end of the game approached, but was there for every one, and the Grizzlies’ defense made sure that even more never even made it to him.

When the final buzzer sounded, Cannata had picked up his third straight shut-out, Grizzlies taking the game 5-0, and out-shooting Allen 39-35.

In three games, nothing has gotten past Cannata, except a sliding Kevin Davis early in the third period. His phenomenal performance earned him the first star of the game, while Ully, who can turn on a dime, stick handle in a phone box, and create space when there simply isn’t any, took second star with four assists. Herbert (he of the league leading 16 goals and 28 points) took third star with the game’s opening and closing goals.

After three straight shutouts from Cannata, everyone is struggling for new words to describe him. “He’s an outstanding goaltender.” Tim Branham said after the game. “I said it all last year, he doesn’t belong at this level. He’s an unbelievable goaltender, an unbelievable person. He’s heating up, so what can you say about him? He’s cool, calm, collected, makes everything look easy, and we’ve just gotta keep going.”

After being a little quiet lately, the power play exploded again, going a lethal 3/7. When asked about the team’s success on the man-advantage, Branham explained, “We’ve got two talented units. On one of the units you’ve got a guy who’s over a goal a game, on the other unit you’ve got a guy who’s got seven points in two games. Those guys are talented, and they want to do well, and they can make plays. They know how to put the puck in the net. We went a little cold there, teams are going to start keying in on it and coming up with schemes to kill it, and we were able to break through tonight.”

Cannata himself was pretty low-key about the whole thing.

“I feel good. I think I’m seeing the puck, a lot of times there’s not too many second chances, so I think guys are doing a good job, whether it’s boxing out or blocking that second shot. Just enjoying being out there helping the guys win, hopefully we can continue tomorrow.”

As Cannata noted, the Utah defense once again had a very strong showing, and Taylor Richart was named defenseman of the game.

Utah and Allen meet for the third and final time in this home stand today (Saturday) when the Grizzlies look to complete the sweep, and the Americans undoubtedly will be looking to even the score.

 

 

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.