Utah Grizzlies: Fuel on the Fire

Back home after taking three out of five games on the road, and picking up points in all but the game against the Indy Fuel, the Grizzlies returned home. Helmed by Teigan Zahn for the first time in front of the Maverik Center crowd, the team got Caleb Herbert back from a stint in the AHL. Kevin Carr got his fifth start as Utah looked to avenge their lone regulation loss.

The Grizzlies hopped up to a 3-1 shot advantage in the first four minutes, thanks in large part to a busy shift by Herbert, Ully, and Berry. On the other end of the ice, Carr made a couple of quick saves. Once past the initial couple of minutes, Indy put their foot down and spent a shift or two in the Grizzlies’ end before the Fuel pushed back. Carr made a couple of big saves, including a nice poke check as a Fuel player got position on the Utah defender and drove the net about seven minutes in.

Utah eventually evened out the shots, both teams getting seven by the mid-way point, though by the time there were seven minutes left, Carr had come up with some more big saves.

The Grizzlies drew the first power play of the night at 15:10 when Kevin Dufour took a slashing call. The Grizzlies’ lethal power play made short work of the advantage, Jake Marchment scoring his fifth of the year from Cole Ully and Herbert.

In the dying minutes of the period, Matt Berry took a slashing call, and Utah ended the period on a very strong kill, out-shooting Indy 17-13.

The Fuel scored in the last two seconds of the penalty kill to start the second, but it didn’t matter, because Tim McGauley made the most of a glorious muddle, putting the home team up 2-1 from Gage Ausmus and Brendan Harms.

Both teams had some serious pep in their step, but the Grizzlies had a step or two more, which resulted in McGauley striking at 7:41 assisted by Austin Carroll.

Turner Ottenbreit joined the fun less than two minutes later, getting his first goal of the year on an authoritative shot. Ully and Herbert got the assists.

After holding the Grizzlies in it in the first, Carr coughed up a puck behind the net, and Connor Moynihan got in on the spate of scoring to cut the lead in half at 11:33.

The game settled down slightly after that, the next notable event being Zach Miskovic tripping up Ully for the power play. Utah definitely went about the advantage with purpose, but the period and the power play came to an end almost simultaneously with no change in score. So, after a wild 20, Utah led 4-2, out-shooting Indy 32-19.

Indy drew within one with another early period goal from Darfour 56 seconds in. Herbert took a slashing call 2:24 into the third and McGauley flew in all alone short-handed. He was awarded a chance to finish the hat trick on a penalty shot, but unfortunately Matt Tomkins was up for the challenge.

Carr once again came up big in an absolutely wild scramble around the Utah net, and Zahn headed to the box for holding an Indy player’s stick at 4:56.

The Grizzlies killed it off, and set up a gorgeous tick-tack-toe bit of passing that put the puck on Ausmus’ stick. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to put the puck over Tomkins.

The Utah got a power play of their own at 8:05, but were unable to capitalize, and the parade to the sin bin continued as Berry went back to the box for high-sticking at 10:34. The Grizzlies killed well though, and by the time the game headed into the final five minutes, they’d racked up 40 shots to Indy’s 27.

With three minutes left in the period, the Fuel pulled Tomkins for an extra attacker, but were unable to muster a single shot.

When the final buzzer sounded, Utah had out-shot their opponent 43-27, and held on to the 4-3 lead, paying back their lone regulation loss of the season.

“We definitely knew coming into this game that they were the only team that had one on us, so we wanted to make sure that we brought our A game tonight and really came out explosive.” McGauley said. “I mean they hung in there for sure. You’ve got to give them credit, they’re a good hockey club over there, but we just stuck with it tonight, and fortunately for us, we got the right outcome.”

McGauley’s explosive two-goal performance got him the game’s first star, and he was one of three Grizzlies players to put up six shots. Ottenbreit’s first goal of the year nabbed him second star, and Herbert, one of the others with six shots, was named third star with two assists. Ully also got two assists, extending his point streak to eight games.

More or less the entire team played well, but there were a couple of other standouts. Carroll is also on an eight-game point streak (extended with an assist in this game), Walters was the third player with six shots, and Marchment has picked up seven points in six games.

When asked about what Marchment brings in his return to the team, Branham said, “His presence on draws, blocking shots on the penalty kill, the way he can control the puck along the wall in the offensive zone, a responsible player. It’s nice to get him back, and a great leader in the dressing room too, so all around a great person and definitely nice to solidify that spot down the middle.”

He also noted how nice it was to pick up a win against the team that handed them their only regulation loss so far before adding, “All around a great team effort tonight. I thought the penalty kill did a really great job. I know they scored a goal there with two seconds left, but I thought we did a pretty good job of killing them. Overall, very happy with it. Definitely a lot of offense, definitely a lot of speed, we can overwhelm teams with it, so that’s the game plan.”

Both McGauley and Branham noted that there are still some things to work on, the later saying, “I think we can work on our structure a little bit, but you know what, with the way that we’re creating offense, you kinda give them a little bit of leeway on that.”

Overall, though, Branham was pleased with the effort. “I thought that the D played a solid game, Carrsy made some big saves there at the end, that’s for sure. I thought it was a complete team effort. We came through when we needed to. That’s a good team over there, they’ve got a lot of offense too, so for us to shut them down like that in the end is good.”

Ully earned himself a call up to the Eagles on Thursday, so presumably the Grizzlies will be without him in the Friday and Saturday rematches. If the way the team has been scoring lately is any indication though, there’ll be no lack of goals this weekend.

 

 

Image courtesy of Action Sports Photography.

Utah Grizzlies: No Signs of Stopping

Going into the season, we knew in theory that Utah was going to be an offensive power house, and that it wouldn’t just be one guy carrying the team. Through out the season so far, they’ve showed that to a certain extent, but they always had Caleb Herbert blazing the way. So with Herbert and Travis Barron called up to the AHL, it wasn’t so much a question of whether or not the Grizzlies would continue to to score, but who would pick up the slack, and whether it would be enough.

The answer was a resounding yes.

With Herbert and Barron gone, R.T. Rice and Brendan Harms both drew back in, while Kevin Carr got the start.

Utah came out hot, getting a power play at 1:19. Matt Berry was a man on a mission from the moment the puck dropped, and made it 1-0 on the advantage, with an assist from Kevin Davis.

Less than five minutes later, as if determined to prove that the Grizzlies wouldn’t miss his line-mate Herbert, Austin Carroll took a beautiful pass from Gage Ausmus behind Wichita’s net, and made no mistake, putting the puck past a sprawling Dylan Wells. Ryan Walters got the secondary assist.

Less than a minute after that, Wichita took another penalty, Pierre-Cedric Labrie going to the box for interference, but Utah got nothing going.

It didn’t really matter though. Not only did the Grizzlies play well in the offensive zone, but they took care of Carr, keeping the Thunder to just two shots while picking up ten of their own through the first twelve minutes or so.

And they were just getting started.

At 13:40, Tim McGauley threw the puck at the net, and Berry got his second of the period. The goal saw the end of Wells’ night, and Stuart Skinner took over in net.

While the offense was clicking, the defense kept things under control in their end. Taylor Richart was especially noticeable towards the end of the first, blocking shots and gotting in the way of passes. Carr also was sharp, making three flashy glove saves in a row as the game progressed into the final four minutes of the frame.

After 20, the Grizzlies had a strong 3-0 lead, and had played as good a period of hockey as they had all season.

The second did not get off to a good start, though, as Carroll took a high-sticking call just 16 seconds in, and Ralph Cuddemi made it 3-1. Then Labrie boarded Nolan De Jong. Utah got a five minute power play. De Jong skated off under his own power, but didย  not return.

The man advantage wasn’t really able to get anything going as Wichita was very aggressive on the kill through the first two minutes. As they approached the three minute mark of the power play, Utah established a good offensive zone cycle, but though they got a number of shots, they couldn’t capitalize.

After the lengthy power play, the Grizzlies pressed hard, and drew yet another man advantage at 8:33. Cole Ully sniped one past Skinner for his fourth goal of the year from Davis and Jake Marchment to put Utah up 4-1.

Unfortunately, Berry took a holding call less than a minute later. Wichita kept Carr pretty busy, as they put up seven shots on their power play and in the minutes that followed. Carr was up to the task, however, which was especially important when Teigan Zahn took a delay of game penalty with 5:11 to go. The Grizzlies allowed only one shot on their Captain’s minor, and closed out the period still up 4-1, out-shooting the Thunder 25-18.

Wichita came out hot to start the third, and cut the lead in half as Jeremy Beaudry beat Carr at 1:38.

Ully was hauled down on the breakaway at 3:31, and was awarded a penalty shot. The Grizzlies’ second leading scorer beat Skinner handily on a nice shot, and re-established the three goal lead.

Unfortunately, Greg Chase made it 5-3 nearly half-way through the period, but the Grizzlies kept their foot on the pedal. Berry was especially noticeable, getting three good shots in the middle stages of the third.

With about seven left in the game, Ryan Misiak also went to the locker room and didn’t return, putting the Grizzlies down both De Jong and Misiak.

Carroll got a tripping call shortly thereafter and a crowd gathered. Once the dust had settled, Carroll had collected a roughing call, but had taken Cuddemi with him. Rice served Carroll’s initial tripping call, and Utah killed it off thanks to a good effort from Jake Marchment and the penalty killers.

Wichita pressured hard in the final three minutes, pulling Skinner with about 1:30 to go, but Marchment put the game to bed with an empty netter from just around center ice.

At the final buzzer of the 6-3 win, Utah had out-shot the Thunder 37-28, and four players had multi-point games. Leading the way in that department were Ully (named first star of the game with two goals and five shots, and now with points in seven straight games) and Berry (second star with two goals and a team-leading seven shots).

Carroll also has points in seven straight games, Davis picked up two assists for the second straight night, Marchment, who has points in all four games since he returned, had his third straight multi-point game, and Carr stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced, improving to 3-0-1 on the year. Moreover, the power play remains lethal, clocking in at an impressive 30.2%, still easily the best in the league, and converting on two of their four chances in the game.

Utah returns home 3-1-1 (7-1-3-0 on the season) where they will take on the Fuel on Wednesday night.

 

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: Road Trip Woes

Friday night’s game was, in a word, disjointed.

Ryan Misiak was placed on reserve as the Grizzlies, Jake Marchment made his Grizzlies debut after returning to the team from San Diego, and Joe Cannata got the start against the Indy Fuel.

Teigan Zahn and Anthony Collins dropped the gloves just four minutes in, then the Fuel took a penalty less than a minute later. Utah was unable to make anything of it before Matt Berry took a slashing call, and sent the teams to some four-on-four time.

Indy prevented the Grizzlies from getting any kind of flow going, laying down hits any time a Utah player got any kind of speed going, and just generally looking like the more efficient team. It paid off for them at 14:07 when Robert Powers opened the scoring.

Austin Carroll did answer in the dying seconds of the first with his first of the year from Cole Ully and Nolan De Jong, but that was the only goal the Grizzlies would muster.

The second period did not begin well, the Fuel making it 2-1 just 42 seconds in. Utah got a power play chance about a minute later, but it almost ended in disasterย as both Ully and Caleb Herbert got hit, leading to a three-on-one short-handed. Fortunately, Cannata turned that aside.

Things didn’t get better after that either, as Berry was given Utah’s first face-off violation penalty of the season at 3:30.

The Grizzlies took another questionable penalty at 5:36, and though initially they did a good job killing it off, Herbert even getting a couple of beautiful chances short-handed, a weird bounce made it 3-1.

The third didn’t see a lot of action in the early stages, and though Indy’s Connor Moynihan took a high-sticking call shortly past the half-way mark, Utah couldn’t capitalize.

Branham pulled Cannata with well over two minutes to go, and things looked promising when Herbert drew a penalty, but there would be no comeback. Matt Rupert scored his second of the game into the empty net, and the Grizzlies suffered their first loss of the season.

It was an uncharacteristic game from top to bottom, and while we did see flashes of the performances we’ve come to expect, it was easily the team’s worst outing of the season.


 

There was a bit of a switch up in the roster for Saturday’s game, with Misiak drawing back in, and Brendan Harms taking a seat while Kevin Carr got the start against the Kansas City Mavericks.

Herbert got right back to his scoring ways, making it 1-0 at 3:49 from Kevin Davis and Travis Barron. Ully drew a penalty on the very next shift, but though Taylor Richart got a couple of big shots off, the Mavs killed it off.

Misiak took a holding call at 8:21, but Utah killed it off thanks to a couple of quick saves from Carr. The remainder of the period was fairly uneventful until C.J. Eick’s speed scooted him in past the Utah defensemen, and he tied it up with 1:15 to go.

The Mavericks sped up after that, but the period came to an end with the 1-1 tie, Kansas City out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-7.

The opening moments of the second were a little sloppy from Utah, with the result that Kansas City got the first three shots, and Carr came up big several times.

The Grizzlies drew a power play, and after a little blip that saw the Mavericks in the offensive zone, Carroll extended his scoring streak to two games on assists from Herbert and Ully.

In an absolute scrum, the Mavericks made it 3-2, Teigan Zahn and Jordan Klimek dropped the gloves, before Kansas City scored again on a clean shot.

However, Richart picked the perfect moment to score his first of the year, tying it up once more at 8:17. Herbert picked up his third point of the game, while Berry got the second assist.

Utah got another look on the power play half-way through the period, but were unable to draw ahead on the advantage. Both teams got away with what probably should have been penalties before Berry was sent to the box for tripping with almost exactly two minutes left in the frame.

Ryan Walters took a high-sticking call with 30 seconds left, but the Berry penalty and the period came to an end together with no change in score, Mavs out-shooting Utah 25-18.

Utah began the third with 1:30 remaining on Walters’ penalty, which they killed off fairly comfortably.

Jake Marchment scored his first goal of the season at 3:51 to give Utah the 4-3 lead from Tim McGauley and Turner Ottenbreiti, but because that’s just the way the game went, the Mavericks tied it up again at 7:27. That’s how things remained for the rest of regulation, and because Herbert took a hooking call as time expired, the Grizzlies began OT on the kill.

Utah killed off the penalty in what was definitely their best OT showing so far, but it wasn’t enough, and Mark Cooper got the game winner.

It was a much better outing than the game against Indy, but though earning a point is certainly better than nothing, the Grizzlies inability to get it done in overtime is frustrating.

Herbert got the third star of the game with a goal and two assists, and Berry deserves an honorable mention with five shots and an assist. Carroll also continues to look good, all of which will hopefully continue and culminate in a win in Wichita.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: A Good Thing

With four games behind them, Utah saw a bit of an injection of new blood in their third game against the Steelheads. Travis Barron (forward) and Nolan De Jong (defense), newly arrived from Colorado, both drew into the lineup, Barron taking the place of the injured Josh Winquist. The Grizzlies went with nine forwards and seven defensemen, and Kevin Carr got the start.

Utah took an early penalty as Ryan Walters went to the box for hooking, but the Grizzlies killed it off handily, allowing no shots on the disadvantage. De Jong got his first shot of the game, but though Austin Carroll mixed it up with a few Steelheads by the Idaho net, the first half of the period was fairly uneventful.

Unfortunately, in a scrambly shift, the Steelheads struck first Steven McParland getting the opening goal. Utah got a number of good looks, including a gorgeous pass from Caleb Herbert to Cole Ully, but though they put up an 8-1 shot advantage by the 11 minute mark, they continued to trail.

However, at 12:42, McParland took a hooking call of his own, and Ully wasted no time, making it one all at 13:32 from Carroll and Kevin Davis.

Utah played a very defensively responsible game, allowing only three shots through the period, all while picking up 13 of their own.

Utah came out hot to start the second, spending the first minute in the offensive zone.

Carroll and Herbert flew in on a two-on-none about five minutes into the second, but Philippe Desrosiers stopped the puck, and everyone went crashing into the net.

The third time was the charm though, as they say, and only a few minutes later, Herbert and Carroll got a two-on-one. This time, Herbert made no mistake at all.

Unfortunately, Idaho scored on the very next shift to tie it up again.

The Grizzlies had a a few defensive bobbles through the first half of the second, but always managed to come out in the right spot to prevent danger.

The first line continued to be absolutely white hot, as Herbert nonchalantly came around the back of the Idaho net, passed the puck to Ully, and picked up the primary assist on the absolute rocket Ully unleashed for his second of the game.

Idaho tried to mix things up a little next to Carr, despite Teigan Zahn standing right next to him, which led to four roughing calls on Zahn, Josh Anderson, Elgin Pearce, and Keegan Kanzig with about four to go.

At the end of the period, Barron and Jeff King decided they’d had enough, and got into a furious scuffle by the Utah bench that saw them both get roughing calls to start the third.

The third period saw the Grizzlies tighten up defensively again. After allowing 13 shots in the second, they allowed only eight in the third. Both teams played with more intensity, the dislike that always springs up between these two teams making itself known. Although it didn’t erupt into any official fights.

Carroll got crosschecked at 11:56, and the Grizzlies went to the advantage, but were unable to add to their lead. Idaho pulled Desrosiers with just under 1:30 to go, and called their time out at 1:19.

Utah attempted multiple chances at the empty net, including a bid by Ully for the hat trick, and in the last thirty seconds, Carr saved the lead in a mad scramble around the net.

When the final buzzer sounded, Utah once again held on to the lead, picking up yet another win.

Though they had some struggles in the second period, the team’s over all defensive effort stood out.

“Honestly, I think it’s just defending fast and getting the puck out of our zone as quick as we can,” said Ully. “If we get caught out there, is when they start getting looks but if we can make one simple play, get it off the glass, or whatever it takes to get it out, and then kind of pressure them and let them make the mistakes, that’s what we did in the third tonight. We didn’t sit back like we did the first night there in Idaho. They didn’t get too many looks, and obviously it frustrates a team when you can do that.”

Not only did the defense deliver tonight, but the offense shows no signs of stopping, as Ully and Herbert continue to put themselves on the score-sheet.

“What can you say about Herbert, Ully, and it doesn’t matter what player we put on there.” Tim Branham said of the potent first line, “Carroll’s on that line tonight, and he played a heck of a game, you know, those guys are leading the way.”

Ully’s assist and two goals nabbed him first star of the game against his former team, while Herbert, who has picked up at least one goal in every game, was named second star. Carroll picked up the third on the strength of three assists.

“Really proud of the way the boys clamped down there, I challenged them again between the second and third to play the right way like we did up in Idaho. We played the whole third period in their end. We understand what kind of team we have, and we’re finding ways to win because we’re a good hockey team. Then you put on top of that our goal tending, it’s a good thing.”

The Grizzlies have yet to lose in regulation, picking up nine of a possible ten points in the first five games. A good thing indeed.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

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.ย  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.