Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: An Avalanche of Goals

On a very snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Idaho and Utah met for the ninth time this season. Tim McGauley returned from suspension, and Joey Raats joined the forward core in place of Josh Dickinson who was recalled to Colorado after the last game. Joe Cannata got the start, facing down former Grizz goalie Ryan Faragher.

First Period

  • That was a very nice shift from J.T. Henke, Jack Walker, and Eric Freschi! Good traffic in front of Faragher and nice puck movement.
  • Austin Carroll is fun. That spin-o-rama pass was πŸ‘Œ
  • A pretty soft defensive play along the right side, and Idaho strikes first.
  • CALEB HERBERT STRIKES RIGHT BACK ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • And then he and Teigan Zahn both end up in the penalty box. Oh dear.
  • Richart with the hero play on that wide open net.
  • That was a HUGE kill.
  • That Henke/Carroll Walker unit got some SERIOUSLY pretty looks.
  • WAS THAT A GOAL???
  • IT WAS. CARROLL ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • The power play sure has heated up again.
  • Of course Idaho strikes right back. This is the rivalry in a nutshell.
  • Both Zahn and Economos have whiffed on what looked to be lining up for gorgeous shots this period.
  • All this period has missed to be peak Idaho/Utah is a fight. There hasn’t been much by way of antagonism.
  • Shots 11-10 Utah!

Second Period

  • Cannata goes on an adventure, but Idaho can’t handle the puck cleanly, and Joe’s set up again before they can take advantage of the screen and the empty net.
  • Walker with the wheels beats out the icing. Exactly no one is surprised.
  • An aggressive offensive shift leads to a two-on-one going the other way, Idaho makes it 3-2.
  • Ah. There’s the crowd gathering after a whistle.
  • THERE’S the fight.
  • Wait. RICHY dropped the gloves with KING? Well, ok.
  • Oh boy. Idaho doubles the lead on a flawless shot.
  • Apparently it’s totally fine to mug Caleb Herbert at center ice.
  • Two quick goals puts Idaho up 5-2. This is less than ideal.
  • Special teams have been quite good, but the defensive effort five-on-five left a lot to be desired.
  • So I say that, and then they proceed to have a couple of really good shifts.
  • JOEY RAATS SCORES HIS FIRST!!! Freschi and Richart get the assists!
  • Economos and Mitch Moroz drop the gloves!
  • POWER PLAY GOAL FOR CALEB HERBERT. THIS IS NOT A RECORDING.
  • Better put the league on notice. It looks like Herbert may have woken up!
  • 5-4 after 40 is definitely a lot better than 5-2 after 40!!!

Third Period

  • That was a pretty important save from Cannata there.
  • Sigh.Β And that shift started out so well.
  • It’s been a pretty quiet period other than that goal.
  • EVERY BODY GETS A PENALTY.
  • That was some nice passing on the very end of the five-on-three.
  • Empty net with 2:45 to go…
  • Empty net goal.
  • Idaho wins 7-4 and the grueling home stand comes to an end.

Herbert’s two goals earned him second star of the game, and some praise from Tim Branham. “He wasn’t scoring, but he was able to get a few points there over the weekend,” he said. “Tonight was huge, he’s got a lethal shot, when we can set him up for those chances I like our odds.”

Herbert wasn’t the only player who came in for some praise.

“[Richart]’s done a good job of defending. He blocks a lot of shots, I bet you he and Zahner have probably blocked the most in the league. Those guys do everything that it takes to sacrifice for the team. That’s what it takes if you want to have success, that’s what it takes to win. From here on out the games get hard. It’s the best division in the league, no questions asked, and it’s gonna take everybody every single night to get a W.”

Although a lot of goals once again ended up in the back of the Utah net, they certainly can’t all be blamed on the Utah net minder. “Joe’s our guy.” Branham stressed, “Joe’s our guy, he’s been good for us, and we know what kind of goaltender he is. A lot of those goals, we gotta do a better job defending. He’s a big part of this team. Also, five on five, looks like we’re a little tired, to be honest, we’ve played a lot of hockey lately, and we just made a few mistakes that were costly. Definitely happy with the special teams, the power play moved the puck around really well, we were able to score three goals there, and one five-on-five. That’s positive. Our penalty kill was good, killing off a full two minute five-on-three, so we’re gonna build on that, go on the road here and build on that. Hopefully we can get a couple of guys healthy.”

Obviously, picking up more points would have been ideal, but the Grizzlies played four games in six days, and that’s gonna wear anyone down.

Utah does get some road-trip reinforcements in the form of Josh Dickinson and Kevin Davis, while Kevin Carr takes over the nets with Cannata getting called up to Colorado once again.

The Grizzlies take on the Kansas City Mavericks today at 6 PM MT.

 

Photo courtesy Jess Fleming and staff.

 

Utah Grizzlies vs Tulsa Oilers: Dialed In

With Friday night’s game a step forward from Wednesday’s, the Grizzlies looked to build on that and get in the win column in front of a big Guns ‘N Hoses crowd. Joe Cannata looked to have a bounce back night in net, while Josh Anderson returned to the lineup, and Tim McGauley served his one game suspension.

First Period

  • Things looking pretty scramble-y early on.
  • This is a very nice looking power play. Clean passes, great movement, shots, everything you could want except a goal.
  • Ausmus takes a slashing call, but the Grizzlies kill it off nicely thanks to Cannata, some timely off-side calls, and overall good defense.
  • ZAHN WITH THE BOOM.
  • Richart and Cannata just gave everyone a heart-attack as they threw themselves through the blue paint to snatch the puck from the goal line.
  • Cannata is ON tonight.
  • The shots are not ideal, 13-5 for Tulsa, but otherwise, it’s been pretty good so far.
  • Turns out when you try to fight someone and they don’t oblige, you get a double minor for roughing.
  • That was a HUGE kill.
  • And the Grizzlies end the period on the power play!
  • Shots are 15-11 for Tulsa, but we’re still tied 0-0.

Second Period

  • Not allowing shots, but spending way too much time in the defensive zone…
  • MARCHMENT ON THE BREAKAWAY.
  • He was in so alone that he got to slow down and absolutely pick his spot for his tenth of the year. He’s been scoring some super pretty goals lately.
  • FRESCHI WITH THE PASS, WALKER WITH THE WHEELS AND THE FINISH!!
  • Marchment almost had a second goal there on the power play.
  • Richy gets run over (why is it always Richy?) and Austin Carroll takes exception. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle, and Utah gets a power play on the boarding call!
  • Freschi seems to have settled in nicely, and is making his presence felt this period!
  • Anderson also looking confident at the point.
  • Herbert with a penalty with one minute to go, and Cannata makes the save.
  • 2-0 GOOD GUYS AFTER 40!! Shots 24-20 for Tulsa.

Third Period

  • Austin Carroll. Causing confusion wherever he goes. In this particular instance, in the Tulsa end while killing a penalty.
  • The Grizzlies doing a very good job tying up ever Tulsa stick there.
  • Anderson there with a good move to keep the Oilers to the outside.
  • WALKER dropping the gloves??? Either way, here we are, and the 10,000+ crowd is LOVING it.
  • It would be very good if we could get a shot this period.
  • Stupid stanchion.
  • Both 21s get cranky in front of the Tulsa net and are sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • Richart had two very nice looks at the net on this four-on-four.
  • MIKE ECONOMOS PUTS UTAH UP 3-0! Ausmus and De Jong get the assists!
  • SO of course Herbert gets a double minor, and the Oilers score on it.
  • There’s an honest to goodness chili chant going on here!
  • Tulsa’s net is empty!
  • EMPTY NET GOAL. MARCHMENT AGAIN.
  • EVERYONE GETS CHILI.
  • GRIZZLIES WINNNNNNNN 4-1!!!

The three stars of the game went to Cannata (32/33 saves), Marchment (two goals), and Economos (one goal).

If Coach Branham was pleased with Friday’s effort, he was even more pleased with Saturday’s consistency. “If you look at these last two games, we didn’t play very well the previous three, so just cause we played well yesterday doesn’t mean that you deserve to get a win,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to battle through it and get some consistency before the hockey gods reward you. Tonight Joe Cannata was outstanding, our penalty kill did a good job, which a lot of it is Joe Cannata, we capitalized on our chances. I thought we played very similar to yesterday, and when you play consistent you deserve a better fate. Tonight was good, tonight was a great response. Obviously, the crowd was unreal, I know there was extra motivation there for the boys, it’s always good to get the win.”

Cannata’s play was a big part of the winning effort, and was night and day from his disastrous first period last game. “That’s what’s gonna happen,” Said Branham. “Look at playoffs last year. You’re going to go through adversity in your career and throughout the season. The professionals, like Joe, they respond. He’s been there before, he’s won a championship, so he knows what it takes. We’re not worried about him in the least, he wants to do well every night and wants to win for this team. He takes a lot of pride in it, and tonight he was outstanding.”

Economos picked up his third goal with the Grizzlies, and has seemed to flourish in the larger role he’s found himself in with the number of forwards out of the line up–certainly proving himself to be a better addition than many perhaps expected. “I would agree with that.” Branham said of the assessment. “From day one he’s been a fabulous addition. He belongs in this league, he belongs in every opportunity we give him that he gets, and that was a big goal, that was a big goal for him. He’s got a great attitude, protects his teammates, a great kid. He deserves this.”

In the past couple games, multiple surprising members of the Grizzlies have stepped up and dropped the gloves. Friday it was Tim McGauley, and Saturday it was Jack Walker “That’s a team effort. No one wants to fight Zahn right? So Walker and McGauley are next in line!” Brahnham joked. “That’s what it takes,” He added more seriously. “Our tough guys protect those guys, and those guys repay the favour by dropping the gloves so it’s not always our tough guys. Good on Walks. He’s a good kid.”

After the game, the jersey auction raised over $16,000 for charity, so all in all, it was a great way to end the week.

However, there’s no rest for the victorious, and Utah will take on Idaho on Monday at 1 PM.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Jess Fleming and staff.

Utah Grizzlies @ Fort Wayne: Too Deep A Hole

On the road with the quick turn-around, it was no surprise that while the lines looked similar, Joe Cannata got the start.

First Period

  • Well. That was a bad beginning.
  • After that first shift though, Utah looks pretty good.
  • That was a really nice series of chances on the power play.
  • Yikes. that Komets player must have whiffed big time. The net was wide open.
  • Oh no, Gage, why.
  • Ryan Walters is sneaky fast. Maybe not quite like Misiak or Walker, but faster than you might suspect.
  • Uhhhhgggg. Good screen, FW. Good screen.
  • Post and in. This is not an ideal first period.
  • Ah. Yeah, no. Very not good.
  • Thank goodness that 4-0 disaster is over!

Second Period

  • That was a really nice series of chances from Dzakhov, Walters, and Carroll.
  • The Grizzlies are definitely playing a lot better in their own end this period than they were last.
  • Walker with those wheels gets a gorgeous breakaway, and draws a power play!
  • OH lord. Short-handed. That’s just adding insult to injury.
  • #ROCKETRICHART
  • Anderson drops the gloves with Szydlowski! That’s a bit of a surprising match-up.
  • MCGAULEY GOAL!!!
  • Henke with a breakaway to end the second, and he draws a power play!
  • Much better.

Third Period

  • Ouch. De Jong just went rib-first into the post in the back of the net.
  • Please go play not in your own zone…
  • McGauley has looked strong tonight, even aside from the goal.
  • Alright, anyone wearing white, we could really use a goal.
  • There’s definitely still time…but that time is rapidly beginning to dwindle…
  • WALTERS!!!
  • He’s been having a good game, so it’s very nice to see him rewarded, and it’s even nicer to be within two!!
  • “Grizzlies allegedly onside.” Ha! (That certainly is the charitable way of putting it!)
  • Ottenbreit had a very good shift just there, or perhaps more accurately, another good shift.
  • Well, except for that disastrous four minutes in the first period, this has been –if nothing else — a respectable showing. Unfortunately…that four minute stretch…
  • Empty netter for FW.
  • You win some, you lose some.
  • Still, four of six points is not bad.
  • ECONOMOS!! That was a beautiful shot.
  • This is definitely a far more respectable finish than the early going suggested we might see.
  • Utah falls 6-4.

None of the Grizzlies earned a star, but Walters, Ottenbreit, and McGauley all had noticeably strong nights, and Richart was more or less his usual stalwart self on defense, as well as contributing the big Grizzlies’ opening goal. Cannata had a bad first period, but after that pulled himself together.

Obviously in an ideal world, the Grizzlies would have taken at least a point tonight, but overall, four points of a possible six, including two against the one of the very top teams in the league, in four days makes for a good road trip.

Utah returns home to face the Tulsa Oilers this week.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard & staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs Wichita Thunder: Finding a Way

With the exception of a newly activated Christian Frey, the roster remained the same as it had been on Wednesday.

First Period

  • Much sharper start from the Grizzlies tonight, they’ve picked up the first two shots in the first couple of minutes.
  • Make that first three. Gage Ausmus takes the puck around the back of the net and puts it right on J.T. Henke’s stick. Unfortunately Stuart Skinner was there to meet it.
  • MIKE ECONOMOS KNOCKS OUR SOCKS OFF. (With some help from the Ryans!)
  • Shots are 6-3 for Utah with just under nine minutes to go, so definitely a better first period effort.
  • Kevin Carr is very sharp tonight.
  • Travis Barron and Pierre-Cedric Labrie had words after that whistle. No penalties thus far.
  • Austin Carroll and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin definitely building up some ill-will on that shift!
  • Labrie spends almost a whole shift blatantly trying to goad Zahn into a fight. Zahn eventually gets fed up, and both get roughing calls.
  • Now Barron and Dyson Stevenson exchange words.
  • Preeettty sure Stan Dzakhov should have drawn a tripping call there…
  • Well, that was a very fun first period!!

Second Period

  • YIKES! That’s one way to start the second! A series of bobbled pucks by Wichita and saves by Carr eventually leads to a slashing call on Barron.
  • That was a pretty nice shift by the Grizzlies after the penalty was killed off!
  • That looked bad. J.T. Henke gets hit by the net as it flies off its moorings…He stays on the bench, however, and seems none-the-worse for wear.
  • Well, that’s not what you want. Jesse Gabrielle gets behind the Utah defensemen and beats Carr.
  • Ausmus with a thunderous hit that sure got the crowd going!
  • That Ryan Misiak-Barron chance was almost a fantastic short-handed goal. Sadly, the key word is almost.
  • Wichita has definitely played a lot harder this game in general, and this period in particular.
  • That was a really good shift from Misiak and company, and it leads to a power play!
  • You know that thing that we just said about Carr? It’s relevant again.
  • What a nice power play goal from Tim McGauley. (<–to be read the way Tyson calls it, of course.)

  • What a nice almost goal number two from McGauley.

Third Period

  • That McGauley, Henke, Barron line is looking strong tonight.
  • Watching Carr when he’s on his game like this is always such a treat. He’s so cool and collected, even when there’s a crowd around the net and rebounds are coming in from every direction.
  • Misiak can’t believe that was off-sides, and neither can the fans.
  • That was not one of their better power plays.
  • Ausmus and Misiak have had strong nights tonight.
  • The later in the game we go the more nerve-racking these icings are.
  • Empty net Wichita, talk about nerve-racking.
  • Shots are now 31-20 for the Thunder…
  • JACK WALKER WITH THE EMPTY NETTER!!! Those wheels.
  • Grizzlies win 3-1!!!

Tim McGauley’s tenth of the season, and the eventual game winner, got him first star honors, while Carr’s 30/31 saves earned him second star, and Walters’ two assists and over-all strong play saw him named third star.

“I think Wichita out played us the majority of the game,” said Coach Branham said of the match. “You know what though, we were opportunistic, probably could have scored three or four goals there in the second even though we didn’t play well. Power play once again got us one, that was huge, the game winner, but at the end of the day, we were able to keep them to the outside, we were able to close off rebounds and clear the rebounds. At no point did I think we were in trouble. I think in the second period they had a few chances and we just kind of stopped playing a little bit, we just had to get our battle and our compete level back. But for the most part we found a way to get two points, it was good, good teams do that, we’ve gotta make sure we have a more consistent effort tomorrow for sure.”

“I thought Carr was good. He was really good. Especially late in that game, in the third when shots were coming in, he was able to steer them to the corner, or in the glass, or out of play, it settles things down for us, that’s for sure. Then his ability to play the puck — gets us out of trouble. He’s a competitor, that’s for sure. I know he’s probably wanted to play a lot more games this year, and right now he’s getting his chance, and getting in a rhythm. There’s a reason we brought him back. He’s a heck of a goaltender.”

When asked about the game, Carr said, “The guys played really well in front of me, helped me see a lot of shots, kept them mostly to the outside, so I think we’ve gotta bring that effort tomorrow night.”

“They’re a good team” he added. “We have to respect them, just like every other team in this league, and I think we’re just playing the right way right now, just gotta keep it going.”

The Grizzlies look close out the home stand with a sweep tomorrow night.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies vs Rapid City: Strong in the Force

With Nolan De Jong joining Kevin Davis, Josh Anderson, Austin Carroll, Matt Berry, Travis Barron, and Josh Dickinson in the AHL after Saturday’s game, and with Tim McGauley and Turner Ottenbreit both sidelined, the Grizzlies were seriously short-handed on Star Wars night. Kevin Carr got the start and Ryan Misiak played defense as the team dressed only 14 skaters. Considering how the other two games had gone, it looked a trifle worrisome.

Utah came out on a mission, flying around the ice, and jumping to a rapid lead when Julian Nantel scored his first at 1:19 from J.T. Henke. The Grizzlies got a 5-1 advantage in shots, then Kevin Carr had to be sharp as the Rush got three straight back. Rapid City got the game’s first power plays, both against Henke but got his own back, making it 2-0 with only 24 seconds to go in the first. The Rush got an unsportsmanlike conduct right after the goal, and Misiak got a tripping call with eight seconds left. After 20, shots were 12-8 for Utah.

The second began with almost two minutes of four-on-four, and the Grizzlies got a power play after that. The Rush poured it on through the middle stages of the second, but between Carr and the active sticks of the players in front of him, they held them off. Utah got into some penalty trouble in the back half of the period, losing Taylor Richart, Gage Ausmus, and Henke to the penalty box in rapid succession.

The penalty killers came up huge, however, and no sooner had Henke and Ausmus left the box then the former scored his fourth of the year. There was quite a scuffle after the goal, and Utah got another power play as Cole Ully, Josh Elmes, and Shaquille Merasty all got roughing calls. Tempers continued to flair as the game progressed, and Jake Marchment faced off against Dylan Quaile in the first of three fights. In the dying seconds of the period, Alec Baer got in all by himself, but Carr stopped him cold to end the period.

The third began with a new goalie for Rapid City, and a power play for the Grizzlies. They didn’t capitalize, but they were absolutely flying. They also racked up a 13-0 shot count through the first half. Henke made a bid for the hat trick on a mid-period power play, and the Grizzlies hit the 40 shot mark with just under eight to go. Then at 14:02 Mike Economos dropped the gloves with Matt Harrington in a furious bout to the great approval of all 7,926 fans in attendance. Not to be out done, R.T. Rice dropped the gloves with Merasty just 38 seconds later. Ausmus joined the combatants in the box for slashing almost immediately afterwards, and no sooner had he left the box, then he and Cedric Montminy were sent to cool their heels after matching roughing calls. Nantel ended the game in the box, but the Grizzlies got the 3-0 victory, out-shooting Rapid City 41-23 overall, and 20-5 in the final period.

Misiak turned out to be a surprisingly good substitution on the blue line, his speed standing him in good stead, and he looked quite comfortable quarterbacking the power play. Economos endeared himself to the home crowd in his first game on Friday, and won them over completely on Saturday. Henke (2G, 1A, 6 shots), Carr (23/23 saves), and Nantel (1G (the game winner), 8 shots) were the three stars of the game, and Carr got a standing ovation at the jersey auction following the game.

“The boys buckled down, and it was a gutsy effort. That’s a good team, that’s a hard working team over there, they’re missing a few players too, but we were able to get to their goaltender finally.” Tim Branham said. “He’s been a rock back there for them, but you can’t say enough about our effort. Carrsy, two short-handed breakaways, a short-handed three-on-one, he was really, really good tonight. Sticking up for teammates, big blocked shot by Zahn at the end, he didn’t even have to do it, there’s six seconds left, just leading by example there. Great effort by everybody, and it was one of our better games of the year.”

With three goals in the last two games, Henke seems to be really hitting his stride after being claimed off waivers from Greenville. “I think it’s just getting comfortable,” he said of his recent performance. “Coming from where I was to here is a little different, getting used to the altitude, and all that kind of stuff, playing with guys, and burying chances when I should.”

“It’s always tough to get guys called up and lose them, especially big scorers, but it’s a part of the game, I think we all had a gut check, I think we played hard today, everyone did a job, the fighters fought, the PK guys did great, Carrsy stood on his head, and good for him getting his first shut out, it all gelled well today.”

It looked like the team finally had regained their equilibrium after losing and replacing so many players in such a short period of time, but the challenge isn’t over yet. Nevertheless, Branham is confident in his group. “We’ve got a week off, we’ve got to put it together next week. I don’t know what our roster’s gonna look like next week, but whatever it is, we know that we can get the job done, and we’ve gotta bring that effort and that passion, and that simplicity every single game.”

The Grizzlies will play two games in Idaho next week, before finishing off the year at home against the Allen Americans.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.