Utah Grizzlies: Holding On

In game two of the road trip, the roster remained the same, with the exception of the goalies, as Kevin Carr got his first start of the year. The lines did see a slight reconfiguration, as Matt Berry moved onto the line with Ryan Misiak and Tim McGauley, while Austin Carroll took his place with Brendan Harms and Ryan Walters.

Idaho came out hot, drawing the a power play less than a minute in. Utah killed it off well though, Carr making the two necessary saves. Things calmed down for a bit, until Caleb Herbert flew into the offensive zone, split the D, and then scored on a gorgeous backhander to make it 1-0.

Harms got a look alone as well, but passed back to Carroll, who was unable to get off a shot.

The Grizzlies picked up a power play at 10:06, and the potent first unit pounced again, making it 2-0 half way through the period. Utah got another power play at 15:22, but weren’t able to pick up another goal.

The first period ended with a big crowd as Berry took exception to a hit, and Carroll and Taylor Richart flew in. As a result, Berry, Carroll, and Brady Norrish all took roughing calls.

The Grizzlies comfortably killed off the early penalty kill, allowing only one shot, and getting a great short-handed look for Harms and Walters.

Utah got a look of their own on the power play 3:34 in, but disaster struck when Winquist collided with an Idaho player and went down hard, having to be helped off the ice. Out of all that, he was assessed a penalty too, served by Herbert, and didn’t return. Less than a minute later, tempers continued to flair and McGauley dropped the gloves with Jeff King.

Misiak and Herbert got in two-on-none right as the later emerged from the penalty box, but somehow he managed to get an interference call, and was sent straight back to the bin.

The Grizzlies only allowed two shots, and no sooner was Herbert freed than Teigan Zahn and Keegan Kanzig dropped the gloves at 8:28.

Cole Ully and Alexander Dahl took matching minors with about eight to go, and the teams played four-on-four. Kevin Davis drew a high-sticking call at 15:17, and Carr had to make a spectacular save on Justin Parizek who got in alone short-handed.

No sooner had the Steelheads returned to full strength than they took a delay-of-game penalty. Unfortunately, Parizek got a short-handed goal 11 seconds later.

The period once again ended in chaos.

Except for the first shift, Idaho dominated the first five minutes of the third, eventually forcing Carroll into a penalty. Fortunately, Utah killed it off.

Idaho continued to run play till the ten minute mark, after which things evened out a little.  Though the Steelheads spend a lot of time in the offensive zone, Utah did do a decent job of keeping the puck away from the net.

It was a fairly uneventful period in general, with just the one penalty, and eight shots (Idaho 6, Utah 2), as Idaho played largely in the offensive zone, but Utah kept them from doing anything dangerous with all their time.

With 1:20 to go, Idaho once again pulled their goalie and called a time out, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Grizzlies were the 2-1 victors.

Herbert, who still leads the league in points, was the game’s first star, while Carr’s 27/28 saves were good for third star.

The Good

  • Once again, Herbert was terrific, picking up his fifth goal in four games.
  • The power play continues to click (mostly), with Winquist getting yet another power play tally, even though they only capitalized on one of five chances.
  • Davis is a force to be reckoned with, both offensively and defensively.
  • Utah is 3-0-0-1 in the first four games of the year, picking up seven of a possible eight points in that time.

The Bad

  • Utah had only two shots in the third, and spent quite a lot of the period in their own zone. However, they only allowed eight shots against, and did a good job keeping Idaho away from Carr, so this is a bit of a wash.
  • Utah allowed two short-handed goals to Idaho this weekend, which isn’t great.

The Ugly

  • Winquist played only four minutes of the second period before leaving the game with a lower body injury. If he’s out for any amount of time, it could be a big loss for the Grizzlies, as he is their second most prolific point producer, and is relied upon in all situations.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: A Wild One

Utah hit the road for the first time this regular season, facing off against familiar foes in the Idaho Steelheads. There were a few changes to the roster, as Gage Ausmus did not dress, and Joey Raats drew in for the first time this year, as did Josh Anderson.

The Grizzlies elected to go with nine forwards, with Raats lining up as the tenth forward or extra defenseman when necessary.

Utah got off to a quick start following the face-off, and kept the pedal down through the first five minutes, getting nine of the first ten shots, and Idaho not getting their first shot till pretty much the six minute mark.

The hard work paid off, and couldn’t have happened to a better guy as Brendan Harms picked up his first of the year from Matt Berry to put the Grizz up 1-0 at 7:44.

Spencer Naas beat out Joe Cannata a few minutes later as the puck popped up into the air, and Naas batted it into the net before Utah’s defense was able to locate it.

Utah’s lethal power play struck about thirty seconds into a too many men minor, Josh Winquist scoring his third goal in three games from Cole Ully.

Ully took a penalty at 14:47, but Connor Chatham took a blatant holding call about thirty seconds in, though it ultimately came to nothing. At the end of the first shots were 17-6 for Utah, who maintained their 2-1 lead.

The Grizzlies came flying out of the gate, drawing a holding call 18 seconds in, but the power play struggled, allowing two really good looks. Cannata was sharp though, and remained so through the first half of the period when Idaho got three of the period’s four shots.

Turner Ottenbreit and Eric Sweetman got into it at 11:18, Ottenbreit more or less tackling Sweetman to the ice, and no sooner had play recommenced than Utah got a power play. Ully once again made a terrific play, setting up Ryan Walters for his second of the year at 12:12. Teigan Zahn took a penalty on the shift after that, but Utah killed it off, Walters looking threatening two-on-one.

The two teams battled hard through the remainder of the period, but other than a huge Cannata save on a Chatham breakaway, and a drawn power play by Austin Carroll, the period came to an end without much ado.

The Grizzlies opened with 45 seconds of power play time, but the wheels fell off the bus, and Idaho drew within one short-handed after a lackadaisical defensive effort, then gave up another to tie it up less than two minutes in.

After the disastrous opening 1:16, Utah settled down, and Ully made it 4-1 with assists from Caleb Herbert and Winquist.

The game, now practically even in shots and goals, saw neither team able to sustain offensive zone time.

With four to go, Walters took an unfortunate delay of game penalty, and six seconds later, the Steelheads made it 4-4.

It looked like had Utah scored themselves out of trouble once again as Herbert added a goal to his two assists. However, with 1:35 to go, Idaho pulled Ryan Faragher, and Brad McClure scored with 43 seconds to go. The Grizzlies protested mightily, feeling that Chatham had interfered with Cannata, but though the refs gathered to discuss it, the goal stood.

Winquist, Carroll, and Taylor Richart began OT for Utah, and and ended it as well, as Carroll lost the puck to Joe Pendenza for the game winning goal.

The Good

Cole Ully has been terrific in all three games so far, but he was especially noticeable all game, picking up a goal and two big assists.

The power play just keeps clicking with two goals, with Herbert (4G, 4A), Winquist (3G, 3A), and Ully (1G, 4A) leading the way. Walters, also on the first power play unit, has two goals and three assists in the first three games as well. Utah’s potent offense was almost enough to score themselves out of trouble.

Utah was absolutely dominant in the first period, and has now picked up five of a possible six standings points in the first three games.

The Bad

After the first, Idaho took over, out-shooting Utah 24-9 in the last two periods. The Grizzlies were nearly able to hold on, but some sloppy defensive play ended up costing them.

The Ugly

Without doubt, the 1:16 to start the third was appalling.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.

Utah Grizzlies: Never a Dull Moment

Sometime in the third period, Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” boomed out over the Maverik Center ice. It was appropriate. This game had it all: fights (there were five), power play goals, short handed goals, even strength goals, saves, and general bad blood. Something about familiarity breeding contempt, and all that.

“I think we loved how we played both games,”Kevin Davis said when asked about the team’s play. “It was great how everyone stuck up for each other too, shows what kind of character we have in that room.”

After a successful home opener, the goal was to keep the momentum going, and boy did they ever.

The game didn’t get off to the most successful start, as Austin Carroll took a tripping call a mere 13 seconds in. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, Rapid City took a high-sticking penalty of their own just 40 seconds later, and that was just the beginning of what seemed like an endless parade of players to the box.

Utah got a lengthy 6-on-5 on a delayed penalty after Carroll took yet another high-stick. The fans were treated to a beautiful moment of déjà vu when Davis and Caleb Herbert set up Josh Winquist for his second opening goal in two nights.

Ryan Misiak drew another penalty at 7:28, and the game got a bit chippy after that. Teigan Zahn and Andrew Radjenovic got into it at center ice, followed on the next shift by a scuffle around Joe Cannata that rapidly turned into a full fledged fight between Ryan Walters and Josh Elmes.

Both Zahn and Radjenovic returned to the ice with no change in score, and the Grizzlies caused some mayhem in the offensive zone with about five to go in the period.

The mayhem continued as, with six seconds left in the first, Zahn and Shaquille Merasty dropped the gloves. Zahn got the best of the fight, and the period ended with another crowd.

Winquist got a couple of looks on the first shift of the second, and though he missed, Davis did not, scoring his first of the season just 42 seconds into the frame.

Unfortunately, after that the Grizzlies ran into penalty trouble as first Gage Ausmus and then Herbert got sent to the box one right after the other. However, the Utah kept them cycling the puck, and Ausmus returned to the ice. Rapid City capitalized on the tail end of Herbert’s penalty, but the Grizzlies immediately went back to the advantage.

Cole Ully boarded Chris Leibinger at 12:22, sending the Utah to the kill. Leibinger looked a little shaken up, but returned to the ice part way through the advantage, which the Grizzlies killed off with style.

In the final minutes of the period, Taylor Richart, Willem Nong-Lambert, Turner Ottinger, and a whole crowd of Rush players tangled, and both Richart and Nong-Lambert went to the box. With just about 40 seconds left, Davis put a shot on net, and Matt Berry tipped it home to make it 4-1.

The rough stuff continued in the third with Merasty once again dropping the gloves, this time with Ausmus at center ice. Both got five, and Merasty got the extra two for instigation.

Scarcely had the game settled down after that than things got crazy all over again. Brendan Harms was plastered to the boards, Davis took exception, and he and Cedric Montminy both got sent off for the fourth fight of the game, Davis completing the Gordie Howe hat trick. Mason McCarty also went off for high-sticking.

Unfortunately, the Rush scored short-handed to cut the lead in half at 8:02. In the immortal words of Bob Cole, everything was happening.

And the Grizzlies were by no means done. When Rapid City took two consecutive penalties, the Grizzlies capitalized both five-on-three, and five-on-four, with goals from Herbert and Berry at 10:06 and 10:51 respectively. Richart and Ully picked up the assists on Herbert’s tally, while Misiak and Austin Carroll got the helpers on Berry’s.

In case anyone was in danger of getting bored in the few minutes of slightly less frantic action that followed, Carroll, who had once again been noticeable all game, dropped the gloves with Blake Heinrich at 14:02 in the fifth and final fight of the night.

Ully rang iron at shortly thereafter, and no sooner had the Rush returned to full strength than they went right back to the sin bin for slashing. Utah took one final penalty in the last two minutes of the game, and then it was all over.

The teams combined for a whopping 90 minutes of penalties, five of which went to Davis who, according to hockeyfights.com, has only ever fought twice before in his career. “Man, I’ve never had one.” Davis said of the Gordie Howe hat trick that earned him first star honors, “I don’t know, it kind of just happened. It was funny!”

Josh Winquist came in for his share of the accolades, after opening scoring once again, and picking up another assist for his fourth point in two games, while Matt Berry was awarded third star with two goals and five shots.

“It’s the start that we wanted to get off to,” Tim Branham said of the team’s winning effort this weekend, “We know we’ve got a good team, still missing a few pieces, but we’ve got a great team. We wanted to be firing on all cylinders here, and I thought offensively we were really good. I thought today we cleaned up a few things defensively, they had a couple of breaks there, they scored a power play and they scored a short-handed goal, it is what it is. I thought our power play is clicking again, and it’s pretty clear we’ve got a lot of fire power, so we just have to make sure we bring that work ethic each and every day, and this weekend we did.”

He was also quick to praise the exceptional work Joe Cannata, who didn’t get a star in the game, but who was a rock for the team, once again making 26 of 28 saves, including some big ones at crucial moments.

“Can’t tell [you] how good of a job Cannata has done. He made some big stops, stopped that breakaway early, he’s just so calm back there, and no one’s panicking on the bench when he’s in net. We’ve known for a long time what kind of goaltender he is. Every press conference I’ve had after every game I’ve said he doesn’t belong in this league, but it’s nice to have him on our team now. He did an amazing job for us, allowed us to get going there.”

With a highly successful opening weekend under their belts, the Grizzlies look ahead to next weekend where they will play the Idaho Steelheads on Friday and Saturday in Boise.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff