Utah Grizzlies: Max-imum Suspense

After Friday’s decisive victory, the roster remained the same, although the lines did see some minor juggling, putting Yuri Terao back on a line with Travis Barron and Mitch Maxwell.

Sasha Larocque gave Utah the first shot of the game less than twenty seconds in, but Tulsa was far better prepared in the early going, not allowing the Grizzlies to run away with the shots (2-2 early), and forcing Ouellette to make a big save.

Utah did eventually find themselves out-shooting the Oilers 5-2, but Adam Pleskach repeated his Friday performance, striking first for Tulsa at 5:09.

Nearly three minutes later, however, the Oilers let Maxwell camp out right on the left side of the paint, and Barron set him up for the perfect shot to tie the game. Barron and Ian McNulty got into a tussle on the ensuing face-off, but the game continued.

The first line showed no signs of stopping, Tim McGauley shooting on Olle Eriksson Ek, and the rebound landing square on the stick of Griffen Molino. Molino showed no mercy, sniping his 13th of the year from McGauley and Ty Lewis.

McGauley took a holding call, and Cam Knight beat Ouellette clean to make it 2-2 with 7:26 to go.

A few minutes later, Josh Anderson made a particularly impressive play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, standing on one skate, while being hauled over. Utah got a power play later in the shift, but though they came close, Tulsa returned to full strength with no change in score.

With three to go, Ty Lewis exchanged jabs with an Oilers player, and Peter Tischke charged in to champion his cause.

Richart made a diving play to put the puck out of the zone on the ensuing penalty kill, and an incredible Molino short-handed one-on-none was broken up when a Tulsa player threw his stick to try to prevent it. Utah got a brief stint of four-on-four time, and then threw everything but the kitchen sink at Eriksson Ek.

When the buzzer sounded, Utah had 12 seconds of PP time to go, and shots were 12-10 in their favor, but the score remained 2-2.

The first period was definitely far less smooth than Friday’s with plenty more whistles and goals.

Though the Grizzlies didn’t do anything with the first 12 seconds, they returned to the power play less than a minute later on a slashing cal to Cam Knight.

Unfortunately, that too suffered the fate of many early power plays, and nothing came of it, the Oilers forcing Utah to chase down the puck repeatedly. Richart got the only shot right into the crest of Eriksson Ek’s jersey.

They might not have gotten anything going on the advantage, but the Grizzlies threw in some big hits along with the offense and defense, getting particularly good shifts from Wegwerth, Richart, and the usual three suspects. Maxwell also came in for some notice, throwing the puck into absolute mayhem.

The Oilers did do a good job getting in the Grizzlies’ way in the offensive zone, but not good enough to keep Utah from picking up the shots.

Zahn took a “cross-checking” call at about the half-way point, which was a bit more of a glorified shove when a whole pile of players ended up on Ouellette.

Following the power play, Utah played very well in their own end, but also spent far too much time in their own end.

Not that it seemed to particularly matter when Molino had an incredible spin around the offensive zone, got knocked down, and picked up an assist when McGauley came barreling in to put the puck over Eriksson Ek.

It was a lead that was not destined to stand, though, as Miles Liberati scored less than a minute later.

A questionable tripping call on Maxwell ended the period, but as the better version of the Grizzlies’ penalty kill came to play.

Once again, Lewis was the cause of a scrum, as he got bumped, and this time Anderson came in to defend him. Thomas and Anderson got offsetting minors. Utah headed into the room still tied 3-3, shots 23-21 for the Oilers.

Utah killed off their penalty, and weathered a Tulsa charge for the first four minutes. Questionable calls continued as Barron slash Thomas, but then Thomas got a call. Wegwerth got shoved, at least as egregiously as Zahn had shoved a Tulsa player earlier, but nothing was called.

Tulsa pressed hard through the middle stages of the third, and though Utah was not without their chances, and turns of blazing speed up the ice (most notably from Tischke), the Oilers either kept Utah chasing in their own zone, or flew in on odd-man rushes.

The defensive zone time cost the Grizzlies, as the defenders got all bunched up on Ouellette’s right, leaving Pleskach all alone to put the puck past Ouellette just over half-way through the third.

They continued to be plagued by turnovers and less-than-crisp play, but they also had moments like one with nearly six left where Jack Jenkins nearly got a beauty following some very good skating.

Things were looking pretty bleak with just over two to go, when Lewis drew a tripping call behind the Oilers’ net, and Ouellette sprinted for the bench.

An absolute muddle of players saw Richart shoot the puck, the rebound spring out to a crowd of sticks, and Lewis put the puck past Eriksson Ek to tie the game.

Regulation wasn’t enough to solve the tie, so guaranteed one point, the Grizzlies went out to try to take the other.

Molino and McGauley nearly had the picture perfect GWG as the Grizzlies’ speed owned the first few minutes of extra time.

There was a scary moment when Jake Clifford put Molino nearly head-first into the boards, and Larocque flew to meet him. Fortunately, Molino appeared alright, and Clifford got two for boarding, as well as a matching roughing call with Larocque.

Eriksson Ek committed grand larceny once again with 1:58 to go, falling backwards into the net, but still stopping Molino’s labeled shot. OT solved nothing, so they headed to the shoot-out.

Maxwell eventually got the game winner, with McGauley and Molino both scoring, as well as a highlight reel stunner from Terao.

It certainly wasn’t the Grizzlies’ prettiest game, but they found a way to make it work.

“I was just telling the guys, I don’t know if we didn’t have it today, they had a LOT of bounces, or they just did a great job of winning battles” Tim Branham said after the game. “That’s what I was harping on, guys, we’ve got to win battles. Every time it was a 50/50 puck, not every time, but a lot of times they were coming up with it, and we’re not used to that. We’re used to winning those battles. We battled, Marty battled for us, big goal at the end there to tie it up, you’re gonna have these games. It was a character win, no one panicked on the bench whatsoever, lots of goals there in the shoot out, it was fun to see.”

The Grizzlies have had a lot of pretty wins lately, but this was certainly not one of them. However, it was good to see them find a way to win in a different style.

“It’s a character group. Can’t say how proud we are of this group, me and Ryan, they’re a family in there, all they want to do is work hard and do well. It’s not always gonna go your night, but we had the crowd behind us tonight, that’s for sure, and we worked hard. It’s tough too with nine forwards, two nights in a row, it’s a lot of ice for those guys. Definitely proud that we’re winning, finding ways to win, cause that’s what it’s gonna take if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, you’ve gotta be able to find wins in various ways, so it was a good job.”

“He’s doing really good. He had a really good road-trip last week too, and that kind of got him going. He’s got everything, he’s moving his feet, he’s got a lot of skill, we saw how tough he was on Friday, and the patience for a shoot-out winner. He’s really important to this group, doesn’t get more of a quality person than that, that’s for sure. We’ve got a lot of those guys in the room, but definitely proud of him. He’s battled, in and out of the lineup kind of thing, and he’s an important part of this team.”

“Like you said, not our best game,” Maxwell agreed, “But we’ve kind of been streaking lately, finding ways to win games, so you’ve just got to ride that while you’re hot. Obviously that line of Lu and Mo, and Gals have kind of been helping us out, and Lu scores that big one for us to give us some momentum, and there you go from there and get two points.”

Of his own performance, he added, “It’s always nice to score goals and help out when you can, to have the opportunity to be put in a situation like that where you have the game on your stick, I think we don’t have a guy on our team who wouldn’t want that, so I was just the lucky guy who got called on tonight to have that opportunity.”

So how do they keep the streak going, and go back to those pretty wins?

“We can’t take our foot off the gas, we’ve just got to keep going. Nothing changes in our room, and we just keep doing the same things.”

Monday’s game is the first opportunity to keep the streak alive, and against a Tulsa team that is not going to out of the decade quietly.

 

Photo courtesy of Jon Berry

Utah Grizzlies: Sweet Revenge

Fresh off a spectacular road trip, and a quick holiday season, the Grizzlies returned home to host the Tulsa Oilers. With Patrick McGrath called up to Iowa, only J.C. Brassard, Garrett Klotz, and the goalies Brad Barone and Jeff Smith were not in the lineup.

Having suffered only one loss, 3-1 to this same Tulsa team on the road, Utah hoped to erase it from memory with a good performance, and bring their winning ways back home.

After a very short stint in their own zone, the Grizzlies got hustling, picking up the first five shots of the night. Their shooting and puck management led to Ty Lewis’ tenth of the season, which he made look absolutely effortless against Devin Williams at 3:34. The usual suspects in Tim McGauley and Griffen Molino picked up the assists.

There were a couple of close calls about twelve minutes in, but Martin Ouellette turned aside a wrap-around attempt, and then calmly shut the door after a turnover led to a bit of a scramble.

The Lewis-McGauley-Molino line continued to impress with their puck handling and rebound creation as shots hit 7-4 for the Grizzlies, and the period hit the half-way mark.

With so few stoppages in play, the flow of the game was allowed to continue unimpeded, and certainly showed off the Grizzlies’ speed and skill.

Yao had an especially memorable shift as he first flew in from the bench to cut off what was otherwise a one-on-none, and then later on the same shift swiped a puck away from an open net after Ouellette made the initial save, and then lost the puck in a sea of bodies.

Ouellette also continued to impress throughout, and the Travis Barron, Brandon Saigeon, Mitch Maxwell line closed the period out with a multi-shot shift.

After 20, Utah led 1-0, out-shooting Tulsa 12-8.

The Grizzlies drew the game’s first power play at 1;25, following a bit of nice puck-handling from Saigeon. They only picked up one shot, but it didn’t matter, for scarcely had the man advantage ended than Lewis once again made scoring look easy on a play from McGauley.

Shortly thereafter, Yau made a blue-line play from his knees to get the puck up to Lewis. After that, it surprised no one when Lewis passed the puck to McGauley, who hten passed it off to Molino. Williams made the initial save, but Molino backhanded the puck right over the Tulsa goalie to make it 3-0.

Unfortunately, a turnover from Richart eventually led to the Oilers’ first, and only, goal of the game almost immediately afterwards.

Travis Barron and Danny Moynihan got into a scrap at 7:58, Barron getting the better of the exchange, which never quite developed into a full-fledged fight, and Utah killed off the extra two Barron got for slashing.

Williams got a pair of chances just past the 14 minute mark, the first which squeaked just wide of the net, and the second which landed square on the stick of Joe Wegwerth and into the net.

Ouellette made a couple of big saves in the later stages of the period, and Utah drew another power play with under four to go. Although the Grizzlies didn’t actually capitalize on the advantage, it was hard to see their puck movement and think that it looked a little like they were toying with Tulsa.

Barron continued to get opportunities, but not goals, and at the buzzer, Mike McKee turnstiled McGauley, which led to a scuffle with Sasha Larocque and McKee in the thick of it. McKee was assessed a penalty for roughing. As a result, Utah headed into the third up 4-1, out-shooting Tulsa 21-13, and headed to the man-advantage.

The ensuing special teams were underwhelming on both sides, and included the least threatening start to a one-on-none short-handed breakaway ever.

The lacklustre power play was forgotten, however, when just about a minute later, Yao released a big shot on net, and Wegwerth once again tipped the puck home perfectly to put Utah up 5-1.

The game got a little out of hand after that, Wegwerth getting put into the boards, leading to three separate fights. That was more or less when the refs lost control of the game. The fights were all considered rouging calls, and the initial boarding that started it was never called.

On the next shift or so, Zahn dropped the gloves. Zahn got two for slashing, as well as the four and ten both received. The upshot, however was that Utah had nearly a minute of four-on-three to kill.

On the shift after THAT Cam Knight and Mitch Maxwell dropped the gloves, and Maxwell won decisively in a furious bout that was the only one of the game to actually be called a fight. Both got five and a game,ย  and Utah killed off the rest of their penalties.

Both teams got back to the business of playing hockey after that, though the Oilers did take a delay-of-game penalty at 13:57.

Joe Wegwerth completed the natural hat trick with just under three to go, and the Grizzlies avenged their only road loss in decisive fashion. The hat trick earned Wegwerth first star honors, while Lewis’ two goals, and McGauley’s three assists gave them second and third stars respectively. Flying much further under the radar though, were Yao’s two assists, and overall strong play.

Needless to say, Tim Branham was pleased with his team’s effort.

“We came out, we had something to prove. Last game we played against these guys, it was the one game we took off in the last 20. We had a statement to make. We played a good game, I thought Marty still made some big saves back there. That one goal, Pleskach can score. That’s a tough play to even defend. Really proud of how the boys stuck up for each other, policed the game when it wasn’t being policed. Overall, it was a really good effort.”

When asked about his white hot first line, he said, “It’s fun to watch those guys, every shift they’re pretty creative, pretty fast, stuff like that. And they play such a big part of the game, not only power play, they penalty kill, they give the other team fits. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They play a fast game, and it’s good. It’s what they need to do, what we need them to do, and it’s fun to watch, that’s for sure.”

Yao’s performance also came in for a share of praise. “Very, very good game. Played defense, played forward. He gives you that effort though, he gives you that effort every night. He skates so well, he’s so smart out there. It’s tough. We’ve got a lot of contracted d-men, we’ve got a lot of good defensemen back there, and sometimes rookies gotta bide their time, give you that effort when it’s needed, and he’s done exactly that. He’s been there when we’ve needed that, and he’s a great teammate.”

However, Branham saved most of of his praise for Wegwerth. “He’s doing great.” He said, “We’ve got to understand where he’s coming from. His senior year, last year, his senior year at Notre Dame, I think it was November, December, he broke his leg, and he hasn’t played since then. He comes back out, and breaks his hand when he gets here, then he takes a puck to the mouth, loses teeth six weeks later, and for him to battle the way he has and develop, he’s got a bright future ahead of him, that’s for sure. He’s a big body, he’s tough to handle, he’s tough, he’s got great hand-eye coordination in front of the net, which we saw tonight, and a great human being, so definitely it’s a lot of fun coaching him as well because he’s a sponge out there. He comes from a good program, Jeff Jackson does a good job there at Notre Dame, and Joe’s a byproduct of that.”

The Grizzlies’ offensive game has obviously expanded exponentially recently, but it’s not the only area in which they have improved in the past month or so, something Lewis was quick to point out. “I think our defensive game has come a long way, I feel like we’ve really taken a next step in our d-zone, and our responsibility defensively in the past couple of weeks. Our d-core is really strong, probably one of the most solid d-cores in the league in my opinion, so hopefully we just keep that going.”

“I think everyone is feeling good in the room right now,” he added, when asked about the team’s overall mood, and success. “It’s nice when things go well, and guys are getting the bounces. We’re just trying to take advantage of what we’ve got going here, good mentality in the room, everyone’s prepared to do their job, and things are just working well.”

Wegwerth’s thoughts were similar. “I think it’s a ton of fun. Every night it’s a different guy, it seems like. Everyone is stepping up and doing the little things. It’s not about one person in the room right now, it’s about all of us, and that’s what’s special about it.”

After such a hotly contested game, Saturday’s rematch is certainly going to be one to watch.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.

Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: Best for Last

Well, it’s here. Game 72 of the regular season, and what a season it’s been. Injuries, win streaks, losing streaks, the most prolific goalscorer in nine years, fighters, point-per-game waiver pickups, speed demons, more injuries (have we mentioned the injuries?) all leading to a spot in the playoffs against these same Idaho Steelheads.

The lineup remained the same with Taylor Richart and Captain Teigan Zahn both playing in game 72/72, while Kevin Carr once again manned the net, facing down Ryan Faragher and the Steelheads.

First Period

  • First three shots go to Idaho.
  • Power play Utah! Good start!
  • ….Short handed goal Idaho two-on-one, beats Carr clean. Less good start.
  • They keep getting into the zone, and then either turning over the puck, bobbling passes, or otherwise not getting anything going.
  • 8-1 shots for Idaho after eight minutes. That’s not ideal, to say the least!
  • Good speed and hustle though.
  • Carr with some nice saves as well.
  • Gabriel Verpaelst and Mitch Moroz drop the gloves! Verpaelst got in way more punches, but Moroz gets the take-down. Both cool their heels for five.
  • Much better second half of the period.
  • Turnovers not so much though.
  • We were at a hockey game, then a rugby scrum broke out! That was a really lengthy puck battle along the boards.
  • Ondrej Vala and Austin Carroll tangle at center ice. They both get slashing minors, though it looked more like roughing than slashing. They’re both shown the door as there’s only 1:19 to go.
  • Utah draws a power play!
  • After 20 Utah trails 1-0, out-shot 15-4. However, they’ve got a power play coming up to start the second.

Second Period

  • Faragher with an unfortunately familiar glove save on that shot.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL.
  • Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Ty Lewis makes it 1-1 from Kevin Davis and Caleb Herbert as the puck trickles through Faragher 43 seconds into the period!
  • That’s the…uh…fourth slashing call this game.
  • Idaho scores. Of course it’s Kale Kessy.
  • Power play for Utah, HUGE save from Carr on a short-handed breakaway!
  • WALKER WITH THE POWER PLAY GOAL! Really sweet pass from Michael Economos too.

  • Josh Dickinson with a nice shot to beat Faragher five-on-five!.
  • The Grizzlies have taken the bit between their teeth this period.
  • Spoke too soon. Idaho ties it riiiiight back up. Puck took a bounce off the Utah defenders in front of Carr and went in.
  • Ooof. Definitely spoke too soon. Idaho takes the lead seven seconds into the power play.
  • Caleb Herbert is sent sprawling, and we’ve got another power play opportunity for Utah…
  • Furious defensive play from Kevin Davis there. Kept a the Idaho player from getting a shot.
  • ROCKET RICHART.
  • And another slashing penalty this game! That’s number five!
  • Utah takes over the shot lead with five to go.
  • Four shots for Utah in the first, 21 for them in the second!
  • 25-24 for Utah are the shots after 40, and we’re tied 4-4!!

Third Period

  • TAYLOR WASTES NO TIME! That’s goal number eight for Mr. Richart, scored just 18 seconds in!
  • VERBEAUTY! What a snipe on a tight angle shot from the bottom of the face-off circle! And just like that, it’s 6-4!
  • Slashing penalty number six.
  • Idaho now with some determined offensive zone time.
  • Pretty back and forth now.
  • Walker lays the boom!
  • Idaho takes a penalty, and then Utah takes a penalty with 4:19 to go.
  • GORGEOUS short-handed look from Economos. With those wheels, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Walker, if he wasn’t sitting in the box!
  • Walker takes the puck up ice out of the box, and after a lengthy battle around the net, Mitch Maxwell makes it 7-4!
  • And that’s all she wrote!!

Richart scored goals number seven and eight, earning first star of the game for the game winner, while Lewis took second star with his continued scoring bonanza (1G, 3A on Sunday, 5G, 8A in seven games), and Walker was named third star with a goal and two assists. Carroll picked up three assists, Herbert picked up two, Economos led the team in shots with six, and Carr stopped 33/37 for his 20th win of the season.

It was definitely a team win from goal-tending on out, and it was pretty much everything you could hope for from a final game. “Obviously we want to get wins,” Tim Branham said afterwards, “But more importantly we want to be playing the right way going into playoffs, so for all the reasons that we talked about yesterday, adding new players and whatnot, really proud of the way this group battled these last two games, just gaining confidence and understanding the way you have to play in order to have success in the playoffs.”

There may have been a few little hiccups in the first half of the game, but some of them were just down to the Steelheads being a very good team. “You’ve got to give Idaho credit, they lost a heartbreaker last night and they wanted to probably come out and have something to prove so they had a little jump in their step. We had to weather the storm, and then it was our turn to play our game. Special teams battle tonight, our power play did a great job, and at the end of the day we found a way to win.”

Importantly, the Grizzlies got goals from players all through the lineup, both on offense and defense. “It’s huge,” said Branham, “You can’t just have contributions from one line or one player, it’s gotta be throughout your lineup if you want to have success, so back end, as well scoring goals, it’s a big help.”

“It’s always good to play 72 games,” said Richart, “It means obviously you’re not in and out of the lineup, you’re not having major injuries, a few bumps and bruises, but I think the whole year I just wanted to focus on playing good, solid two-way hockey, good defensively, good offensively. We had a lot of power up front, so I kind of focused a little bit more on the defensive side, and the offense would come, just getting pucks in like tonight, and they happened to go in.”

“We did have a hot start,” Richart continued, “Which obviously really helped us when that slump kind of kicked in, but it was nice, obviously injuries are part of the game, so we kind of had to battle a little bit there, just kind of shows what we have in that locker room right now, just battling night in and night out. Getting ready for playoffs we knew we had to settle everything down these past couple of weekends, kind of getting in the playoff mode, it’s been playoff hockey the past three weeks, and teams are playing playoff hockey as well, so we just had to keep it together.”

Richart and Zahn both finished the season without missing a single game, despite playing big minutes, and throwing themselves in front of everything, whether it be pucks, or punches–something that Branham praised highly. “[Richart] and Teigan Zahn, both playing every game, they both just eat pucks. We talked about those guys a little bit yesterday, what they mean to this team, as a coach you know what they’re gonna bring every single game, and that’s easy to coach. The leadership that those guys bring is tremendous, it’s invaluable, can’t put a price tag on it, and we’ve got sixteen more wins.”

“Every game you gotta bring it. It’s win or go home now.” Richart concluded. “It’s a new season now, so every day you’ve gotta be ready to go, can’t take any games for granted.”

The Grizzlies will begin the first round of the playoffs against the Steelheads in Idaho on Friday night.

 

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Lewis (Davis, Herbert) (PP), Walker (Economos, Lewis) (PP), Dickinson (Carroll, Anderson), Richart (Walker, Carroll) (PP)
  • Third Period: Richart (Carroll, Herbert), Verpaelst (Lewis, Ausmus), Maxwell (Walker, Lewis)

UTA: 3/6 (17 PIM)
IHD: 2/5 (19 PIM)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Utah Grizzlies @ Allen Americans: Bad Blood

In their final meeting of the season against the Allen Americans, the Grizzlies hoped to get the win to take the season series. Cole Ully remained out of the lineup, and with Duggie Lagrone released, Josh Anderson returned to action while Joe Cannata got the start.

First Period

  • Well, the bad blood boiled over right off the face-off! Joey Ratelle drops the gloves with Jacob Doty!
  • AAAAND now Verpaelst drops the gloves with Curt Gogol!
  • And two more penalties for Allen and Utah! There have been more penalties than shots so far.You get a penalty
  • The latest player to head to the box is Braylon Shmyr. Still scoreless with 9:30 to go.
  • Good possession on the PP, but no threat at all.
  • O CAPTAIN, OUR CAPTAIN! 1-0 Utah!!
  • There are now as many shots as penalties this period. (Utah holds the slim edge, outshooting Allen 4-3 with 3:30 to go.)
  • Another scuffle after a whistle, and another penalty for Allen!
  • 1-0 for Utah after 20, shots 6-4 in their favor!

Second Period

  • The period opens with 1:57 or so of power play time!
  • Allen’s PK looking better than Utah’s PP, but Ottenbreit has the only shot.
  • Allen has the zone, but the Utah shot-blockers are keeping them from reaching Cannata.
  • This power play would be a really, really good time to double up the lead…
  • Well, it didn’t, but they do now outshoot Allen 12-4.
  • AAAAAAAnd Allen scores. Like I said, getting a power play goal would have been kind of big…
  • Holy CANNATA. HOW did Joe save that???? Pochiro thought he scored, the fans thought he scored I thought he scored!!!
  • Ok, this would be another really good time to score that power play goal…
  • The most unfortunate thing about this whole situation is that Utah’s playing pretty well, getting all the power play opportunities, and outshooting Allen 13-5, and yet we’re tied 1-1. Because of course Allen scored on their only shot this period.
  • OTTENBREIT GETS HIS 11TH!! I think Turner heard me. Richart and Lewis get the assists on the go-ahead goal.

  • Penalty on Zahn.
  • DOESN’T MATTER. The speed of Jack Walker sets up Mitch Maxwell for a shorty!!!

  • Just like that, and Utah’s looking great.
  • Oh boy, Ryan Galt got hit and got up really slowly. The boys aren’t happy about it. Pochiro and Gogol both get ten minute misconducts, and Shmyr gets two for kneeing.
  • At the end of 40, Utah leads 3-1, shots 16-7 in their favor.

Third Period

  • Allen returns to full strength.
  • JK no they don’t. Or rather, they do but they then head straight back to the box on a cross-check on Walker.
  • Another big save by Cannata.
  • Welp, this is gonna be a very important kill.
  • Uhg. 3-2 on the advantage.
  • The Grizzlies creating chaos though!
  • …I do not know why Ty Lewis was awarded a penalty shot, BUT WHO CARES!!! HE SCORES HIS FIRST FOR UTAH!
  • Allen is very not happy about the situation.
  • And they get it back on the power play through traffic.
  • Another big kill coming up…the others haven’t gone so well, so this is concerning.
  • Excellent kill.
  • The amount of time left on the clock with a one goal lead is nerve inducing.
  • Empty net for Allen with a minute to go…
  • Allen calls their time out. It’s moments like this when I especially miss Jake Marchment…
  • It’s a really good thing I don’t bite my nails, because moments like these would cause me to completely ruin them…
  • Fun fact, Gogol spent nearly a whole period in the penalty box this game.
  • EMPTY NET GOAL FOR LEWIS!!!
  • Grizz win 5-3 thanks to power play, penalty kill, penalty shot, even strength, and empty net goals!!

 

Goals

  • First Period: Zahn (Maxwell, Ausmus)
  • Second Period: Ottenbreit (Richart, Lewis) (PP), Maxwell (Walker, Anderson) (SH)
  • Third Period: Lewis (PS), Lewis (Walters) (EN)

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Utah Grizzlies vs Rapid City: Fight, Score, Celly

Day 155 of the regular season and we’re still playing the Rapid City Rush. However, despite the billionth meeting of these two teams, there were some changes in the roster. Joey Ratelle (signed at the beginning of the year) finally made his Utah debut, Jake Marchment was once again out with an injury, and Joey Raats was a healthy scratch. Joe Cannata got the start for Utah, and on the other end of the ice, their arch-nemesis Adam Carlson.

First Period

  • Longest first shift in the history of ever.
  • Will Smith looking to stay hot on his first shift of the game.
  • Tyler Poulsen puts the puck through Gage Ausmus and Joe Cannata to put the Rush up 1-0.
  • Not even five minutes in, and already there’s some cantankerousness.
  • Cole Ully doing Cole Ully things.
  • Oh no…that’s exactly how Ratelle got hurt the first time this year…He’s certainly endeared himself to the fans though!
  • Point blank chance for Eric Freschi
  • Both teams playing with a fair bit of nastiness so far, certainly more than we saw in their past games against each other.
  • Freschi’s made some pretty nifty moves tonight, and the night is young.
  • Speaking of nifty, that was a great piece of stick work from Ausmus to take possession of the puck.
  • That was some really nice passing from Freschi and Jack Walker there.
  • That being said, please go spend some extended time in the offensive zone…
  • Pretty sure everyone on both sides moved before that puck got dropped, haha!
  • Well. That’s not good. 2-0 with five to go.
  • Turner Ottenbreit lays a huge hit and gets two for elbowing, leading to the first power play of the night.
  • You know that thing I said about cantankerousness? We’re definitely past “some”.
  • I’m not sure I have ever seen a full line brawl live before. The penalty box is gonna get PREEEETTTY full. Teigan Zahn and Gabriel Verpaelst get five each for fighting, Taylor Crunk gets two for slashing, two for instigating, and five for fighting, and Liam Bilton gets five for fighting.
  • Well. That was…eventful.
  • 2-0 RC, shots 19-7 in their favor.

Second Period

  • Utah opens with two full minutes of power play time, and a minute of five-on-three.
  • That opening power play goes the way of many opening of period power plays. That is to say, nowhere.
  • If nothing else, they got Carlson moving shortly afterwards I guess.
  • Zahn just led a really nice up-ice rush that culminated in a mad scramble around Carlson.
  • Mitch Maxwell with a speedy wrap-around attempt. Shots are now a far better 19-14.
  • More importantly, possession is much improved, and they’re skating hard.
  • Ottenbreit and Caleb Herbert get a really nice chance short handed.
  • MAXWELL WITH THE SHORTY.

  • Utah’s taken over the shot clock, 20-19 with 10:36 to go.
  • If RC had actually managed to pull off that stick toss, it would have been impressive. Illegal, but impressive.
  • VERBEAUTY. TIE GAME.
  • Walker does NOT look like a guy who’s been out for a month and a half with a leg injury.
  • Freschi and Walker get a glorious short-handed chance.
  • Another whistle, another scuffle. Michael Economos and and Garrett Klotz to the box.
  • ECONOMOS WITH THE SNIPE.

  • 3-2 UTAH as Economos positively flew out of the box! Great feed from Zahn too.
  • Carlson starting to look human over there.
  • Everyone falls over each other from both teams. Ice is slippery, don’tcha know!
  • Shots are 20-7 for Utah in the period.
  • The Grizzlies OWNED the second.

Third Period

  • Every time someone blocks a Verpaelst shot, I wince a little.
  • The way Ully just makes space for himself is so effortless.
  • Good start to the period for the boys.
  • I DON’T BELIEVE IT. IT WENT IN. O CAPTAIN OUR CAPTAIN.
  • Free chili for all.
  • Ok, please get back to playing mostly in the offensive zone.
  • Please stop icing the puck…
  • And again…
  • At this rate, we’re gonna have to crack out the Herb Brooks “again”ย gif. (Only this is not the sort of thing he’d have wanted over and over and over and over…)
  • You know that thing I said about Verpaelst’s shots at the beginning of the period? That.
  • I haven’t really mentioned him so far this game, but Cannata’s been good.
  • Freschi’s been very good this game.
  • BIG save from Cannata!
  • Rush net is empty with 2:30 to go.
  • ECONOMOS INTO THE EMPTY NET!!!
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 5-2!!! And they out-shot RC 34-33 in the end, Cannata going 31/33.

Economos’ two goals and assist earned him first star of the game, while Maxwell (1G, 1A) and Zahn (1G, 1A) took second and third stars. Walters’ assist was his 300th professional point.

“We earned this one.” Tim Branham said after the game. “I didn’t think we were that bad in the first to be honest. We passed up on a lot of scoring opportunities to only get five shots. I thought we had more chances than that. They worked hard, they worked for their bounces that period. Then between the first and second we talked about how enough was enough, we need to out play them and out work them like we did that last third period. The boys came out and took control. Five-on-three, our five-on-three hasn’t been good all year to be honest, I think we’ve maybe scored one, but we got one on the power play, and our penalty kill was huge, and we got one short-handed. So specialty teams was huge, specialty teams has been huge this whole series, and tonight it worked in our favor.”

As has been the case in the last few games, the Grizzlies’ secondary scoring has come through. “It’s huge,” said Branham. “Really, I just rolled the lines there for a while with our ten forwards so I don’t really what was our first, second, and third line, but to get that secondary scoring you’re talking about, it’s huge. Come playoff time, teams are going to be keying in on our top guys, and our second and third line are the ones that gotta to carry the load. Third lines win championships.”

“It’s huge” Economos said of Maxwell’s goal. “When you get a short-handed goal and things aren’t going your way it was something that really sparked us. We just talked about working hard and that’s what we did tonight. It was nothing fancy really about that game out of us tonight, it was just working hard, crashing the net, getting in front of Carlson’s eyes cause he’s been red hot against us, so it was really big for us.”

He was, predictably modest about his own game winner.

“It was just right place at right time. Zahner just happened to look up at the perfect time when I was getting out of the box. The boys were joking with me that I wasn’t trying to go five-hole, and honestly I wasn’t,” he said with a laugh, “But you know sometimes when you miss it works out. Finally a bounce went our way, and it was great to see that go in.”

Military night is always popular in Utah, and Saturday was no exception with 9,237 in attendance, and they made a difference. “It was amazing. Any time there’s a hit, any time there’s a fight, any time there’s a goal, it was just electric in there. Sometimes you don’t hear the crowd because you’re so into the game, but tonight they were a factor, and they definitely gave us some life out there.”

The difference between the Grizzlies’ first period and second and third couldn’t have been more stark. “I think we just said that we got that out of the way. It’s been chippy against them every time we’ve played them, so we kind of got that out of the way and were just able to focus on our game. They might have still been in that mentality of just trying to get in fights and pushing and shoving, and we just wanted to get in front of the goalie’s eyes, put it on net every single time we could, it was great for us.”

The Grizzlies face the Rush for the fourteenth and (thankfully) final time on Monday.

 

 

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Maxwell (Ottenbreit) (SH), Verpaelst (Herbert, Henke) (PP), Economos (Richart, Zahn)
  • Third Period: Zahn (Economos, Smith), Economos (Maxwell, Walters) (EN)

UTA: 1/5 (29 PIM)
RC: 0/5 (39 PIM)

 

Photo courtesy of Josh Pinnau.

 


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