Utah Grizzlies: A Costly Lack of Discipline

It’s playoff time at the Mav, and the Grizzlies returned home with a series split to find reinforcements waiting. Taylor Richart made his return to the lineup for the first time since February 17th. With his return, Tim Branham shuffled his defense, Rob Mann remained in the lineup with Tim Daly, Garret Haar, Phil Pietroniro, and Gabriel Verpaelst, while Marc-André Lévesque and Martin Nemcik sat. Cam Reid also did not dress for Utah, while Kevin Boyle once again made the start.

The Grizzlies got an early power play, as Josh Brittain took a boarding call against Mathieu Aubin just moments into the first period, but Allen largely kept the Grizzlies chasing the puck down the ice. Utah got a second crack at the man advantage just moments later as Mike Gunn went off for elbowing at 2:34, but once again, the Grizzlies’ power play was unable to make a difference.

Verpalest took a holding penalty 7:11 into the first, and the Allen power play looked dangerous, but Utah killed it off. The Americans spent a great deal of time in the Grizzlies’ end, but with 6:50 to go, shots were 4-3 for Utah.

Verpaelst yet took another penalty, tripping this time, with 3:45 to go in the first, and the Grizzlies headed back to the penalty kill. Unfortunately, the penalty would prove costly, as the Americans scored with 34 seconds left on the man advantage.

Utah got a big chance on the power play to end the period as Jon Puskar drew a holding call with less than a minute to go in the first, but they were unable to make anything happen before the frame drew to a close.

Utah was outshot 10-6, and trailed 1-0 after 20, but would start the second with 1:15 on the power play.

Utah was only able to get one shot on the power play to open the second, and C.J. Eick took a holding call at 3:04. Fortunately for Utah, Chad Costello took a high-sticking call about thirty seconds into the penalty kill, and the teams played 4-on-4 for 1:32.

With 58 seconds left in the 4-on-4 situation, Austen Brassard struck decisively, tying it up with 15:53 to go. Haar and Erik Bradford drew the assists on Brassard’s second of the playoffs.

Daly took a high-sticking penalty at 7:05, but the Grizzlies pressed well, and had a number of up ice rushes, Eick and Erik Higby both getting especially nice chances.

Brittain hauled Haar down in the defensive zone with 9:14 to go, and the Grizzlies returned to the power play. However, Utah had difficulties maintaining the zone, and Allen returned to full strength with no change in score.

Puskar was repeatedly cross-checked in the offensive zone before the refs finally called it with 4:34 to play, and Travis Howe and Mathieu Aubin were less than amused with the delay in the call.

Brassard got a nice shot on net, and then a crowd gathered as Colin Martin and Dyson Stevenson tangled, both getting two for roughing with 3:42 to go in the period.

The Grizzlies got a 37 second 5-on-3 with 3:11 to go, as Travis Brown put Daly into the boards. Daly appeared to be just fine, and gave Utah the 2-1 lead at 17:31 with assists from from Aubin and Higby.

Richart took a delay of game penalty with 1:55 to go, but at the end of the second, Utah led 2-1.

Unfortunately, Allen made it 2-2 just 2:53 into the frame as Zach Hall beat Boyle. To make matters worse, Daly got a questionable five and a game for spearing at 7:05, and the Grizzlies had to finish the game (and a five minute penalty) without their best defenseman, and primary penalty killer.

The Grizzlies were unable to clear the zone, and Allen made it 3-2 part way through the five minute major. Utah killed off the remainder of the penalty, even getting a chance or two of their own, and with 7:27 to go, they returned to full strength.

Richart laid a couple of big hits, and Higby and Ralph Cuddemi had some nice attempts as the Grizzlies tried to tie up the game, but to no avail.

Pietroniro had a rough go of it through the end of the game, taking abuse from Tyler Barnes and Brittain along the boards with about three minutes left as they battled for the puck. Pietroniro laid a huge hit on Brittain shortly thereafter before being tomahawked by Bryan Moore in retaliation. Moore received a match penalty for cross-checking, and Utah went on to a ten minute power play with 1:20 left, down Daly and Pietroniro. (Moore would later be fined and suspended for four games as a result.)

Utah pulled Boyle with 1:20 left, to go 6-on-4, but they were unable to even up the score, and despite a terrific defensive effort from Richart, Allen eventually scored into the empty net.

Erik Higby was named third star of the game with an assist, three shots, and as the generator of a number of the most dangerous plays in the game. Boyle also continued to have a very strong series, making 28/31 saves, while two of the three goals he allowed were on Allen power plays.

Penalties, and special teams were a big theme after the game. When asked about the Grizzlies’ third period struggles against Allen, Brassard answered:

“I think a big thing is penalties, I mentioned that earlier. They’re so skilled we can’t give them opportunities on the power play, because they will finish. It’s just about keeping on them and sticking with our game plan, just getting it in their zone, keeping on the offense and burning some time down there.”

Coach Branham was emphatic on the subject. “Undisciplined play has cost us game one and game three. We completely shot ourselves in the foot with undisciplined play, and we’ve been talking about it, how that’s going to be the key to this series. If you want to take a punch, if you want to continue to do retaliatory penalties, it’s going to cost us. Champions suck it up. Champions bite the bullet and do what it takes to win. We took way too many penalties tonight. I thought the referee got duped a little in the five minute major. That wasn’t a five minute spearing penalty, that’s for sure, but you put yourself in that position, for them to call it. You’ve gotta be disciplined, and tonight too many penalties cost us.

“No adjustments need to be made,” he said later, regarding the system the Grizzlies played. “Guys just need to have more discipline. Need to stop taking penalties, dumb penalties. I wouldn’t say stop taking penalties if they were good ones. if it’s to keep a goal going in your net, or whatever. But we took five or six penalties from our d-core tonight, and all but one were really dumb. So we gotta to make sure that we have a lot more discipline in the next game.”

When asked about the team’s power play performance, he added, “I thought we generated some good looks. Early on we didn’t, so then we made a couple of adjustments and were able to get some good looks. We missed a lot of plays coming up the ice on the break out, pucks rolling of our stick and what not. Our execution level was not quite there. Obviously we didn’t score more than one, so I’m not as happy as I could be, but at the end of the day I thought we were doing the right things, we just didn’t execute well enough.”

Execution and discipline might have been lacking, but Richart’s return to the lineup, and the continued performance of the Grizzlies’ third line were both bright spots.

 

“It’s really nice to have Richie back. He plays with heart, he plays with character, he skates really well, and he competes. That’s what I want out of all of our d-men. Where you get in trouble as a d-man, where you stop competing, you stop moving. We saw that on three of their goals here tonight. That third line you’re talking about with Puskar, Eick and Brassard, right now they’re our heart and soul. They’re leading by example, and they’re having success because they’re playing the system, they’re playing the game plan that we’re trying to implement. So everyone else has to follow suit.”

“We’re just keeping it simple” Brassard said of his line’s performance. “We have a fast line, so we’re just getting after them, trying to keep it simple, and stick to our strengths.” Their strengths have seen them pick up ten points in three games.

The Grizzlies are down 2-1 in the series now, but they remain undeterred. After all, a bit of adversity is nothing new.

“We’re pretty confident. We’ve had the lead in all the games, so it’s just about not getting too down. We’re pretty confident with how we can do against this team, so turn the page, and come ready to go next game.” Brassard’s statement has an entire season of proof to back him up.

Utah looks to once again tie up the series tonight (Friday) in what is bound to be an eventful game.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming.

 

Utah Grizzlies: Game One

The fight to make the circus is over, and now the battle begins in earnest. Sixteen teams, four rounds, one prize. Garrett Haar returned to the lineup for the Grizzlies, while Cam Reid and Colin Martin remained sidelined, and Kevin Boyle made his seventh straight start.

Which did not exactly begin well, as Allen scored two minutes into the first period.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Austen Brassard drew the first penalty of the game, as Mike Gunn took an interference call at 5:36, and just moments later, Riley Gill put the puck over the glass, sending Utah to the 5-on-3.

The Grizzlies weren’t able to capitalize on the power play, but Erik Higby made it 1-0 just after it expired, and Marc-André Lévesque struck again for good measure at 9:09 to make it 2-1. Ralph Cuddemi and Mathieu Aubin got the assists on Higby’s goal, while Lévesque’s was unassisted.

Gill took a roughing penalty against Michael Pelech, and Utah went back to the power play. Allen killed off the penalty, and Pelech took a tripping call of his own at 12:00.

Utah kept the Americans scoreless, and the Grizzlies went the other way. A shot from Jon Puskar hit Gill up high, and he left the game replaced by Jamie Murray. Pelech took another penalty with 3:57 to go.

Utah killed that penalty off as well, and Larraza and Brassard caused havoc around the Allen net.

After 20, Utah led 2-1, and outshot the Americans 11-6.

The second period began in a much more sloppy fashion, and with 15:19, Puskar and Brian Moore got into a shoving match after the whistle. No penalties were called, and Allen began to put some pressure on the Grizzlies. Fortunately, Boyle stood tall.

At 7:17, Puskar threw a shot on net, and a huge rebound came right to the stick of C.J. Eick, who made it 3-1. Unfortunately, the Americans came the other way, and made it 3-2. Allen continued to pressure, and Martin Nemcik took a holding call at 11:20.

Utah’s penalty kill remained perfect, on the penalty kill, thanks in large part to Boyle. Phil Pietroniro took a hooking call and a stick full in the face with 1:15 to go, and Travis Howe served the penalty, while Pietroniro went to the room for repairs.

At the end of forty, the Grizzlies still held the 3-2 lead, but the Americans had taken over most of the momentum and a 16-15 edge in shots.

Utah killed off the remainder of the penalty to start the third, but Allen carried most of the momentum, and at 7:28, Wade MacLeod tied the game. Howe had a terrific chance with just under eleven to go, but the Grizzlies were unable to tie it up.

Gabriel Verpaelst got involved in a scuffle with 4:29 to go, and Joel Chouinard made it 4-3.

About a minute later, Tim Daly and Alex Krushelnyski got tangled behind the Utah net, and Boyle came to Daly’s defense. Marc-André Lévesque fought Bryan Moore in the resulting chaos, and once the refs sorted everything out, Boyle got two for roughing, Krushelnyski got two for slashing, and two for cross-checking, while Lévesque and Moore got five for fighting.

With a minute to go in the game, Utah pulled Boyle, but despite a valiant effort from the Grizzlies on the 6-on-4, including one especially heartbreakingly close chance from Ralph Cuddemi, they weren’t able to tie it up. Allen seemingly scored into the empty net, but it was called off.

So Utah dropped Game 1 4-3 after relinquishing a lead, which is certainly very frustrating, but one thing we did find out. The Grizzlies have what it takes to skate with the Americans.

Higby was named third star of the night, Cuddemi had two assists on the night, and Utah looks to tie up the series on Friday.

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard.

Utah Grizzlies: A Little Help From Our Friends

With a chance to clinch the final playoff spot, the Grizzlies opened their final Friday night game of the regular season with Kevin Boyle making his fifth straight start of the season. Rob Mann made his Grizzlies debut, while Travis Howe, Cam Reid, and Erik Higby all sat out.

Unfortunately Utah came out flat, giving up two goals to Dane Fox and Eric Scheid in the first 5:39.

After giving up two quick goals, the Grizzlies stepped up their game, more or less taking over the game, and keeping possession of the puck, and the shot lead.

With about 7:20 to go, Gabriel Verpaelst rang the crossbar, as Utah did a good job of creating some second and third chances around the net.

Jon Puskar and Zach Tokinen threw down at 14:08 after a battle in the offensive zone. It wasn’t so much a fight as a brief tussle with Puskar getting the take-down, to the great delight of the 6,702 fans in attendance. Verpaelst and Jacob Doty tangled briefly on the same whistle, but only Puskar and Tokinen were sent to the box to cool their tempers.

Dane Fox was whistled for slashing shortly thereafter, and tried to goad Colin Martin into taking a retaliatory penalty, without luck, and earned himself an extra ten minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Grizzlies weren’t able to capitalise on the power play, and despite working up to a 12-7 shot advantage, they remained behind 2-0.

After 20, the shots were 14-7 for the Grizzlies, but that slow start continued to haunt them.

There was nothing slow about the start of the second, as Mathieu Aubin cut the deficit in half just 40 seconds into the period. Austen Brassard and Michael Pelech got the assists on Aubin’s 18th of the year.

By the five minute mark, Utah had outshot Missouri 20-10 and continued to largely control the game. They got a few gorgeous chances, including a pair of hard shots from Verpaelst, and one from Zac Larraza on a beautiful Erik Bradford pass. Sadly, Zach Nagelvoort continued to be terrific, and kept the puck out.

Puskar took a slashing call with 5:57 to go, but the Grizzlies absolutely took over what was supposed to be a Missouri power play. Larraza sprang Bradford on a glorious breakaway, Larraza went after a rebound, Cuddemi got a chance, Boyle made some terrific saves, and the penalty kill was over.

Utah found another gear in the final five minutes, and with just eleven seconds to go, Brassard tied the game. Aubin and Pelech got the assists, and the roof all but came off the Mav.

The Grizzlies went into the final intermission tied 2-2, and outshooting the Mav 36-18 after opening and closing the period with a goal.

Josh Robinson came in for the Mavericks to start the third, and continued to thwart some beautiful Grizzlies’ chances from the likes of Brassard, Puskar, and Bradford.

With 7:38 Missouri scored on a weird bounce, while Martin went rib first into the goal post. He went to the locker room and did not return to the game.

The Grizzlies made a determined effort to tie up the game getting 45 shots to Missouri’s 23 with 5:22 left.

With just under two minutes to go, Branham pulled Boyle, and Utah made one last ditch attempt to tie the game, to no avail.

Brassard and Aubin were named the second and third stars of the game with a goal and an assist each, while Pelech picked up his fourth multi-point night in the last eight games.

It was a disappointing outcome, especially given how well the Grizzlies played after the opening five minutes, with the chance to clinch a playoff spot on their own power.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Brassard said after the game. “That slow start kind of woke us up, but at that point you’re already down two, and you’ve gotta climb back, and you’re in tough. It’s pretty disappointing, but it’s done now we’ve gotta move past it. We’ve got an opportunity tomorrow to get the job done, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

Tim Branham had a similar view of the game. “Definitely pretty disappointed in our effort, coming out there, top to bottom, goaltender on out, didn’t come ready to play,” he said. “You can’t play like that, and we dug ourselves a two goal deficit. Yeah we got 53 shots, that’s not good enough against this Missouri team. We should have 60-70 shots if we play the right way. Yes we had plenty of scoring chances, but they were one-on-one scoring chances with the goaltender. He saw every puck. Not sure if we had any second chance opportunities. We’ve got to be hungry in that two foot area, the blue paint in front of their goaltender, and if we’re not, they’re going to continue to stop 40 or 50 shots a night.”

“It’s just a matter of how bad do we want it,” he continued, referring to the Grizzlies’ playoff aspirations. “I don’t want to leave it to chance here, Idaho wins and we get in by default. I don’t like that. My main focus is the boys come in ready to play tomorrow, showing what we’re made of with a consistent sixty minute effort.”

Idaho did end up securing the win over Alaska 1-0 in regulation, ensuring the Grizzlies’ tenth straight post season appearance.

 

Winning Saturday night’s game is now a matter of pride.

Utah Grizzlies: Ex-Zac-tly what the Doctor Ordered

With Jon Puskar and Cam Reid out with injuries, Ralph Cuddemi suspended, and Tim Daly up in the AHL, the Grizzlies came into tonight’s game with nine forwards and five defensemen – a situation they had not found themselves in since the infamous game against Alaska in February. When asked what it would take to replicate a win, Tim Branham answered, “heart.” Fortunately, that’s something the Grizzlies have in spades.

The game started much more tentatively for the Grizzlies than Friday’s contest, but Faragher made some terrific saves to keep the game 0-0 as Colorado got the first six shots of the night.

Utah took the first penalty when Michael Pelech took a roughing call with 11:39 to go. They were able to kill off the disadvantage, thanks to an excellent penalty kill, and to a terrific save or two from Faragher.

After that, the Grizzlies improved, getting some chances of their own, and doing a much better job of keeping Colorado in check.

Mathieu Aubin made it 1-0 at 15:13 as Pelech, Aubin, and Zac Larraza capped off a strong offensive zone shift.

Unfortunately with 20 seconds to go in the period, Luke Salazar made it 1-1, and after 20, the shots were 15-7 for the Eagles.

Erik Bradford drew a power play at 2:19, and Larraza scored on an absolutely gorgeous snipe just over a minute later.

Utah continued to largely control play through the middle of the frame, but Pelech took a slashing call with 8:29 to go, and Colorado went to the man advantage. However, the Grizzlies got short handed chances from Higby and Bradford, and killed off the penalty.

Utah got a power play of their own at 14:18, but though they got a few looks, they spent most of the man advantage chasing the puck back to their own end. They got a second chance on the power play with 2:42 left as Colin Martin drew a hooking call, and then made Colorado pay, scoring his 20th of the year with assists from Bradford and Larraza.

There were some extracurriculars as the buzzer sounded, and Utah headed to the locker room up 3-1, having closed the shot gap to 24-22.

The Grizzlies began the third well, keeping Colorado shotless for the first three minutes or so, Garrett Haar drawing a hooking call at 3:25. Utah was unable to capitalize, but Bradford’s speed drew another power play with 13:43 to go, but were unable to make it 4-1. However, they also did not allow any dangerous short handed chances, which after their previous struggles, was certainly a good thing.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as Larraza made it 4-1 at 9:48 with assists from Bradford and Gabriel Verpaelst.

The Eagles pressed hard with just about five minutes to play, but Faragher and the Grizzlies stood their ground. Phil Pietroniro and Jackson Hauk took matching roughing penalties with 5:05 to go, and Nemcik followed soon after, putting the Grizzlies on a 4-on-3 penalty kill for a minute, and the Eagles pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. the Eagles scored shortly afterward, but the goal was scored on a high-stick and immediately called back.

Colorado pulled their goalie once more with 1:54 to go, but the Grizzlies held on to win 4-1, and closed out the season series against one of the best teams in the league on a high note.

Larraza had a breakout night, and had a hand in every single Utah goal, picking up assists on the goals by Aubin and Martin. He also picked up two goals of his own, and was named first star. Bradford and Larraza continued right where they’d left off on Friday night, and Bradford had a multi-point game of his own with two assists, earning second star of the game. Faragher was also incredible, making 41 of 42 saves, and holding the fort early before the Grizzlies really got going, and was named the third star.

With Missouri wining against Wichita, and Alaska losing to Rapid City, the race for the final playoff position has become incredibly close. The Mavericks and Aces both have a game in hand, and are tied with 70 points, while Utah trails them by just one.

The Grizzlies continue their road trip in Rapid City, where they will play Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday before returning home for a final, all important home stand against the Mavericks.

Utah Grizzlies: Swagger

Saturday night’s game was likely the last to ever be played between the Alaska Aces and the Utah Grizzlies, and it did not disappoint.

Ryan Faragher got the start for the third straight game, and the only roster change saw Sean Robertson draw in in place of Zac Larraza.

Utah came out flying in the opening minutes of the period, and Jon Puskar scored his 19th of the year at 3:37, making it 1-0 on a beautiful shot. Ralph Cuddemi drew the only assist.

About a minute later, Phil Pietroniro put the puck over the glass, and was sent to the box for delay of game. There were some tense moments to follow, as C.J. Eick joined him shortly after for interference, drawing a crowd of ticked off Aces players. Between some beautiful saves from Faragher, and the Grizzlies’ excellent penalty kill, however, the 5-on-3, and subsequent 5-on-4 were both killed off.

Both teams collected chances in the following few minutes, but it would be Utah who capitalized. At 10:45, The Grizzlies came flying into the Aces’ zone, and Colin Martin made it 2-0 on Pietroniro’s rebound.

Martin took a penalty at 13:02, and though Utah did an excellent job of killing it off, Alaska cut the Grizzlies lead in half mere seconds after it expired.

Both teams got good chances in the last four or so minutes, but Utah decidedly carried the play, throwing a flurry of shots on net in the last three seconds, and the period came to an end with Utah up 2-1, outshooting Alaska 9-7.

The Grizzlies continued to buzz right out of the gate in the second, as Erik Bradford rang the post mere moments into the frame.

Brad Navin took a goaltender interference penalty at 2:34, and the Grizzlies got a few chances early, but Alaska also got two breakaways. Ultimately, however, Martin made Alaska pay, scoring his second of the night at 3:49 after absolute mayhem around the net. Cam Reid and Marc-André Lévesque drew the assists, and Utah reclaimed their two goal lead.

Despite being up by two goals, the Grizzlies stayed hungry, continuing to skate hard and get chances. Alas,, that’s when the questionable penalty troubles began. Mathieu Aubin was pulled down in the defensive zone at 9:22, yet it was Pietroniro who was sent to the box for tripping.

Unfortunately, Nolan Descoteaux scored on the suspect penalty, and the game was made 3-2. Alaska put the pedal to the metal after their goal, and with 8:31 left to go, they tied it up.

The Aces continued to press, but Faragher made a pair of big saves, and the momentum slowly began to shift back in Utah’s favor.

Mitch Jones tried to goad Ralph Cuddemi into a retaliatory penalty, but with no luck after the Grizzlies continued to crash the net.

The crease crashing paid off as the Grizzlies went to the net hard, and Martin’s wrap-around slipped past Kevin Carr for the hat trick. Martin’s hat trick makes him the third Utah player this year to put up a three goal game, joining Cuddemi and Puskar. Reid picked up his third assist of the night – all three coming on Martin’s goals.

The missed calls continued to pile up, as Erik Higby was taken down with no call. A few minutes later, Brassard was sent into the back of the net at 16:45, and took justice into his own hands, dropping the gloves with Mitch Jones. Brassard won the bout emphatically, Jones got an extra two for roughing, and Utah went to the power play.

The Grizzlies’ power play generated some chances, including two from Martin, but the most dangerous attempt of the play went to Alaska who jumped on a bad line change, and got a 2-on-0 on Faragher. Faragher made a phenomenal save, and the Grizzlies went into second intermission up 4-3.

Alaska got a big scoring chance eighteen seconds into the third on their sixteenth shot of the night, but Faragher shut the door.

Puskar took a shot up high along the boards with no call with 14:31 to go, and Reid took a holding call moments afterwards. Once again, Descoeaux scored on the power play, to tie the game at 6:02.

The Grizzlies responded emphatically as Bradford, Aubin, and Michael Pelech capped off a terrific shift with a goal from the Rocket at 9:08.

Alaska countered, but the Grizzlies did a terrific job blocking out shots, and responding with offensive zone shifts of their own. With roughly five minutes to go, Alaska twice got away with blatant calls against Tim Daly, but Utah continued to battle

The Aces finally took a penalty as Stephen Perfetto all but hitched a ride on Daly through the neutral zone with 2:18 left in regulation. The power play was not so much a power play as a time killer, Utah playing keep-away in the offensive zone as much as possible.

When the final horn sounded, Utah had outshot Alaska 28-24 en route to the 5-4 victory, while Martin, Reid, and Faragher were the well-deserving three stars of the game.

“This whole series, I don’t think we put together a full 60 minutes until tonight.” Martin said after the game. “We took it to them from puck drop right to the last buzzer there. That’s what we need to do every night. It’s playoff hockey, starting now, and it’s time to go.”

Coach Branham had similar thoughts on the team’s game. “Definitely proud of the effort. I’m sure it was exciting for the fans, but we would have liked to keep the puck out of our net a few more times, but I thought we did a pretty good job. We did a good job of answering every time. Alaska did a good job of responding, and then we would respond back. It was just great. No matter what got thrown at us — we were talking on the bench — no matter what gets thrown at us, we’re not losing this game. I thought we could have had quite a few calls there at the end, that weren’t called. I don’t know what was going on there. But we did get the one at the end, and we were able to seal the deal.”

“Our destiny is in our hands” Branham continued. “We’ve gotta just win. Win games, and we’ve got a tough stretch here, but so do they. Missouri lost again tonight, so we’re two points up on them, and they make up a game in hand tomorrow, so we’ll be watching the scoreboards, but at the end of the day we’ve gotta just worry about what we gotta do, and focus on continuing to win hockey games.”

“It’s pretty crazy” Martin said, reflecting on the future of the Aces, “Every time you think about this league, one of the teams you obviously think about is the Alaska Aces. It’s sad. I feel sorry for the guys down there, but at the same time, it’s hockey. Stuff happens, and you’ve just gotta do what you can.”

As much as Martin may sympathise with their fate, he, and the Grizzlies, are focused on their own play, and the task ahead. “We’re confident. That’s what we need. We need confidence, we need guys going to the net, we need guys scoring goals, that all comes with confidence. I think we have that right now, we’ve got some swagger, and it’s time to go to Florida and get six points.”

Confidence and swagger were the watchwords of the day as Branham echoed Martin’s words:”It’s all about confidence and swagger. It’s a confident group in there, so we’ve just gotta build on that, and keep that rolling.”

With the win, Utah improves to 9-0-0-1 when they score first, and a staggering 13-1-1-2 when Puskar scores.

They’ll look to take their winning ways to Florida in the coming week, where they will face the Florida Everblades, and the Orlando Solar Bears, both of whom have been hot as of late.

Photo courtesy of Josie Vimahi/Utah Grizzlies