Utah Grizzlies vs Kansas City: Frustration

After last night’s game, the lines saw some shuffling, though the roster itself remained the same.

First Period

  • Teigan Zahn crushes a guy, and Joe Cannata flashes the leather. Getting the crowd into it right off the bat!
  • Joseph Mizzi to the box with a double minor for high-sticking.
  • Cannata looking particularly sharp. He’s made a couple of nearly identical pad saves followed by a quick stick to bat the puck out of danger.
  • Grayson Downing with a big block there.
  • Downing showing off the physical side of his game with 13:00 to go.
  • Pretty good looking defense tonight. On the other hand, it’d be really nice to get some shots of our own…
  • Eric Freschi with a tremendous takeaway in the offensive zone with half a period to go.
  • Haha that’s what happens when you hit a Moose. The moose is fine, you fall over.
  • KC strikes first on a late power play…where have I heard that one before…
  • McDonald is far too good a goalie only get one shot on and expect good things to happen.
  • End of 20, shots 7-2 for KC, who leads 1-0.

Second Period

  • That’s more like it. The Grizzlies have already doubled their shot count, and we’re not even two minutes in.
  • Ausmus rings iron, shots are now 8-4 in a much better second.
  • Nice crisp breakout from the Downing line.
  • Mizzi is robbed on a point blank chance, and just like that, shots are an even 8-8.
  • Aaaand Greg Betzold beats Cannata on the rebound.
  • Cannata bobbles a seemingly routine save, and it’s 3-0.
  • Ottenbreit with a huge shot, and Zahn lays a big hit, which the fans appreciate.
  • Oooh some animosity brewing.
  • Maxwell didn’t miss by much…
  • After evening up the shots, KC is once again out-shooting Utah 18-9.
  • Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout  Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout
  • Freschi’s stick goes flying up in the air, and he catches it, to the crowd’s great delight. Wonder if he’s good at juggling…
  • Dickinson didn’t miss the net by very much there. He’s so sneaky good.
  • Well. Marchment takes a penalty.
  • AND NOW THERE’S A CRAZY SHIFT, AND WATSON TO THE BOX.
  • Well. That was not ideal.
  • 3-0 for KC after two.

Third Period

  • Pretty good shift here from Marchment and company now that all the penalties are killed off.
  • It didn’t pan out, but what a crafty move from Downing.
  • Downing playing with some passion there. He’s definitely not entertained.
  • Every other sentence seems to be about him tonight, but he’s been good.
  • Anderson absolutely wails on a guy, and gets five and a game.
  • Really nice short-handed shift from the boys.
  • Ah great. We just go from bad to worse.
  • Walters to the box and Richart as well, because reasons.
  • …As bad as Richart getting a 10 minute misconduct is…that’s 10 minutes in which he can’t get hurt as this game goes nowhere good in a hurry…if you want to look at it from the very, very, very faint bright side…
  • What a shift from Walters as he flew out of the box!
  • Obviously, penalties aren’t the reason the Grizzlies are currently losing. But KC definitely hasn’t played as clean a game as the score sheet would indicate…
  • And the fans are not happy about it.
  • Hate to sound like a broken record, but…as AD used to say…I don’t know about that…
  • Zahn’s penalty is killed, and Ottenbreit throws a thunderous hit!
  • Well. If you can’t score a ton in front of a big crowd, at least entertain them with big hits, and a surprising fight from Mitch Maxwell!
  • As bad as this game has been, and as many penalties as Utah’s taken, they’ve only got one power play goal against them. That’s pretty impressive.
  • That is the second short-handed dash from Walters and Downing that SOMEHOW didn’t beat McDonald.
  • Welp. I guess that winning streak had to come to an end sometime.
  • Utah falls 3-0.

 

“First off, they played hard.” said Tim Branham after the game. “They came at us hard, we tried weathering the storm, obviously got behind the eight ball early with penalties. Definitely a lopsided affair on the referee’s part. You have the linesmen out there calling penalties, the reason it gets out of hand is because they don’t call the penalties, and they don’t keep it under control. Hockey players handle it themselves. Unfortunately, we face that a lot here with our part-time linesmen, they always seem to have it out for us, but it is what it is.

“I thought there were times where we could have played better,” he added. “I thought we played extremely hard, it’s tough when the power plays were eight to one, the one power play we had was 37 seconds. I definitely saw some penalties out there that could have been called. But it is what it is. I thought the boys played really hard, I was really proud of them, and we gotta regroup here and come back on Monday.”

Despite the lopsided penalties, the Grizzlies only allowed one power play goal — a testament to their defensive abilities.

“I thought our PK was good,” Branham said. “The one that they scored was off of a face-off, and just got a quick shot, nothing structurally or anything like that. It is what it is, those bounces happen, kind of like their one yesterday. I thought we played really well, they had what, three five-on-threes tonight, an extended one for over a minute, and then two shorter ones, the effort is there. We’ve got an unreal team, unreal character, and definitely proud of the way they played. We got the short end of the stick, 100% in front of 8,500 fans and the commissioner here. They couldn’t find one penalty on them. It’s pretty sad.”

The Grizzlies’ eight game point streak and five game winning streak came to an end, as all good things must, but there were valuable things that came from it that will continue to stand the team in good stead going forward.

“We came together as a team, no matter who was in our lineup. Guys are understanding what it takes to win games, I think. Playing short-handed a lot with new guys who aren’t used to playing in this league, it’ll take a toll on you. So when you’re killing that many penalties, you’re really relying on your veteran core guys as well, so they’re getting a lot of ice time as well. It was a good streak, that’s for sure. We’ve got to make sure we put this one behind us and start a new streak.”

Monday’s matinee game against the Mavericks is gonna be a big one.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography and staff.


 

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Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: Clean Sweep

After taking two in a row against Idaho, the Grizzlies were up against a stiff challenge in game three of the series on Saturday night. Utah’s lineup remained the same as they faced down former Grizz goalie Ryan Faragher.

First Period

  • Idaho to the power play first.
  • The Grizzlies followed up a flawless penalty kill with a wild scramble around Faragher.
  • WALLLYYYYYYYYYYY!! Walters puts the Grizzlies up 1-0 from Taylor Richart!! And it was a very nice one. He took the puck around a crowd of players and past his former teammate.

  • WELCOME. BACK. MITCH. 2-0 Grizzlies!
  • Idaho is definitely trying to pick a fight with whomever will fall for it.
  • Shots are 7-1 for Utah with 8:50 to go in the first period.
  • What a pair of phenomenal saves from Carr as that Idaho penalty came to an end.
  • It feels like every single game Mike Economos gets a step faster. Every single game.
  • A little bit of the old razzle dazzle from Julien Nantel there! (Unfortunately, Faragher flashed the leather with a little flair of his own.)
  • Carr sees Faragher’s flashy moves on the other end of the ice, and responds with one of his own!
  • ONE of these days, Nantel is gonna bury one of those incredible looks.
  • Idaho in on the breakaway, only to be stopped stone cold by Kevin Carr.
  • If Taylor getting pitchforked isn’t a penalty, how’s that play by Ausmus one??? As AD used to say… I don’t know about that…
  • Either way, that was exactly the start the Grizzlies needed. 13-7 are shots for Utah after the first.

Second Period

  • More of that awesome puck support we saw from the past couple of nights.
  • Carr doesn’t often protest after he lets a goal in. He was immediately adamant after that one that it shouldn’t be a goal. Refs are talking about it.
  • NO GOAL. Always trust Carrsy.
  • Don’t know about the rest of you, but definitely not used to Teigan Zahn NOT being the biggest guy on the ice.
  • Kevin Carr, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Walters takes exception to the Idaho pushing and shoving around Carr, and is sent to the box. The fans are not amused.
  • We’re just gonna spend the entire second period on the kill, aren’t we.
  • Idaho to the box, and Herbert and Dickinson join up for a gorgeous four-on-four chance.
  • …Except now apparently Dickinson to the box for…reasons.
  • Idaho scores after being given ever possible chance on the power play.
  • YOU MAY BEAT KEVIN CARR FOUR-ON-THREE, BUT YOU’RE NOT GONNA BEAT HIM ON THE WRAP-AROUND.
  • HOW did Carr save that???? It was already BEHIND him????
  • Kevin Carr is the first star of this game for this period alone, and I don’t care if we lose by six. He is playing lights out.
  • HERBERT SAYS THAT’S RUBBISH AND WE’RE UP 3-1!! What a move.
  • Idaho playing a lot tighter on this penalty kill.
  • UHG. Short-handed goal.
  • Here’s to hoping the Grizzlies are able to score another couple in the third to keep the Steelheads out of the win column…

Third Period

  • Grizzlies are struggling to pass cleanly early on, but are still doing a good job at boxing the Steelheads out…mostly.
  • Five-on-three for Utah. The Grizzlies NEED to get a goal on this one.
  • …This is a very underwhelming five-on-three. No hustle, and the passes are not ideal.
  • That power play could come back to haunt them in a big way.
  • Now would be a really good time for the killer instinct from the first period to make a return.
  • Kevin Carr coming up big again.
  • The way some parts of the second and third period have gone, an argument could be made that the Grizzlies don’t entirely deserve to win this game. On the other hand, Carr definitely does not deserve to lose it.
  • A lot more energy as the final period passes the half-way mark. They’re looking more like the first period team.
  • There’s still too much time…
  • Caleb Herbert, man. The things he can do.
  • Again. Herbert and the things he can do.
  • OH geez… Henke went hard into the boards, and has to be helped off the ice. That’s the last thing this already injury plagued team needs.
  • Idaho’s net is empty with 2:28 to go…
  • Still an empty net…less than a minute to go…Idaho calls their time out…
  • MITCH. MAXWELL. EMPTY. NET. GOAL.
  • CHILI FOR ALL, AND GET OUT THOSE BROOMS.
  • Grizzlies win 4-2.

Mitch Maxwell earned first star of the game with his first and second goals of the year, while Caleb Herbert’s GWG earned him second star. Idaho’s Keegan Kanzig received the third star with a goal and an assist. Carr definitely could have been one of the stars as well, with his outstanding performance–especially in the second period.

“I think it just comes down to team effort,” Maxwell said after the game. “Carrsy was great in the net when we had little lulls he held us in it, and we capitalized on our opportunities. We’re a pretty confident team right now, and we’re just excited to be here at the rink. It was a big three wins for us, and we’re ready to get going for next week.”

Of Carr’s play, especially in the second period, he added, “Carrsy made some huge saves when we had some lulls like I said. Without him we definitely don’t have these three wins. He was a huge part of our success this weekend.”

“We’re playing pretty good hockey right now,” Tim Branham said when speaking of the series in general. “Good goaltending today, that’s for sure. Got some help from our affiliate, those two, Nantel and Downing for the series, and Boikov for the first game, those are three elite players right that can play at the next level. Any time you can add that, it’s great. But you know what, our boys came together there in that last road trip, playing short, understanding what it takes to win, and I think we know now–I think we knew, but we’re proving to everybody–that when we play our style, when we have our lineup, nobody can beat us.”

Speaking of that lineup, Walters appears to be heating up, with points in the last five games (and three multiple point games in that stretch) and ten points in the nine games since he returned, while Herbert has points in ten of the twelve games he’s played since coming back from Colorado, and is now third in the league in points and goals (one behind Zach Pochiro of Allen, and Reid Gardiner of Kalamazoo). Economos has five points in the last five games, and Dickinson has eight points in his last ten since arriving from Colorado. Although he hasn’t scored yet, Downing has been incredible, while Carr is now 5-1-1 in his last seven starts.

“I thought he was just fantastic,” Branham said of Carr. “He’s been that way for quite some time now. I think early on in the year when you’ve got Joe Cannata, and you’re not playing many games, you’re not getting into it. Now he’s playing every game, and we just see what kind of goaltender he is. He was tremendous tonight, tremendous. Just calm, steady back there, controlling the rebounds, he made some big saves. Our D are playing phenomenal, with Zahn leading the way, they’re defending well, trying to keep shots to the outside as best they can. Our forwards do a good job of scoring, and helping track through the middle of the ice to defend. Honestly, that was a complete team effort. Really proud of the boys, and it definitely feels good. Some much needed rest to recover here, and we’ll get back at her next weekend.”

The upcoming games on Friday and Saturday are part of Grizzlies Fight Cancer week, and are the first two of a three game home stand against Kansas City that will conclude on Monday with a matinee game for President’s Day.

 

Goals

  • First Period: Walters (Richart), Maxwell (Zahn, Economos)
  • Second Period: Herbert (Anderson, Marchment)
  • Third Period: Maxwell (EN)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography and staff.

Utah Grizzlies @ Wichita Thunder: Silencing the Thunder

With Kevin Davis, Tim McGauley, and Joe Cannata all up in Colorado, and Jack Walker and Austin Carroll out with injuries, the Grizzlies were very, very short-handed in Wichita, even with the addition of returnee Mitch Maxwell. Kevin Carr got the start, and Joey Raats drew back in at forward against Gabriel Verpaelst, Ralph Cuddemi, and the Thunder.

First Period

  • Mitch Maxwell starting strong.
  • “Marchment allegedly on side.”  That’s definitely putting it generously.
  • It would definitely be advisable to stop passing the puck to Thunder players, boys…
  • Josh Dickinson is a power play drawing machine.
  • WALTERS WITH THE POWER PLAY GOAL. Jake Marchment continues to pile up the points.
  • Shots are 6-1 for Utah with half a period gone. That may be pretty good.
  • Carr spins through the crease, but somehow still has the puck.
  • Walters definitely wants another goal. He’s had a couple looks up close since he opened the scoring.
  • Oh great. Dickinson taking a puck to the face is the absolute last thing we need.
  • I guess if we can’t have Carroll on the ice, looking sharp on the bench is the next best thing? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • GEEEEZZZZ that goal-mouth scramble almost ended very badly.
  • However, all’s well that ends well.

Second Period

  • Ausmus with a great move there to take the puck away on a one-on-one there.
  • Oooh that backhander didn’t miss by much.
  • The Thunder are pressing now.
  • Zahn to the box.
  • Dickinson to the box…minute plus of five-on-three….
  • What a kill. Especially the end there, what with the Carr save, the pipe on a wide open net, and a huge clear from Richart to swipe the puck out of the blue paint.
  • Wichita should get a penalty just for making us listen to the entire Baby Shark song.
  • Walters with more nice shots there.
  • Kevin Carr has been stellar. Unfortunately, so has Ty Rimmer.

Third Period

  • Gotta love all the praise for Ausmus! He’s just been playing really well lately.
  • Verpaelst giving us a power play. Definitely a Grizzlies sleeper agent! 😛
  • ECONOMOS WITH THE POWER PLAY GOAL.
  • Tyson, that is not how you don’t talk about the goalie thing-that-must-not-be-named-until-it’s-completed!!!!!
  • Raats with the first even-strength goal of the game!!
  • Less than a minute later, Herbert puts the puck on Rimmer, and Walters taps it into the wide open net!!!!!! There’s that second goal!
  • Wowwwwwwwwww that was quite the melt down for Wichita.
  • The Grizzlies definitely don’t look like a team with only fourteen skaters dressed.
  • TYSON. STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.
  • Mitch Maxwell making his return felt by dropping the gloves!
  • Oh geez. Wichita is taking out their own guys by accident. That’s never good.
  • KEVIN CARR SHUTS THEM OUT.
  • Grizzlies win 4-0, shots 34-31 in their favor!

Kevin Carr was the well deserved first star of the game with his third shutout of the year, and Walters got second star with two goals and a team leading nine shots. Mike Economos was named third star, while Jake Marchment had his fifth straight multi-point game, and Eric Freschi also had two assists.

If the Grizzlies continue to be this short-handed, today’s game will be the biggest test of the road trip as they look to remain undefeated against the Thunder this season. It will also be interesting to see if Tim Branham goes with Carr, or if Christian Frey will get his first start.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: Howe Sweet is Victory

When your fighter is a fight away from a Gordie Howe hat trick and doesn’t get it because he’s too busy being a scoring forward, you know it was an extraordinary night.

“I am proud to be their coach” Tim Branham said after the game. “It was a little worrisome there in the first five minutes, but I thought everyone settled in and held in the five shots in the first, seven in the second. I mean, that team can play, so they’re going to get some scoring chances there in the third. I thought we played extremely well five on five the entire weekend. Thought we deserved a better fate on Wednesday. Friday could have went either way, it is what it is. Power to the boys, battled back hard, in front of an awesome crowd, obviously our fans are the best in the league. We deserved this. We got some help around the league as well, so four points out, we just gotta keep it going.”

While the night ended with a certain feeling of triumph, it certainly did not start that way.

The first couple of shifts were promising. Utah got off the mark strong, and in the second shift or so, Mitch Jones threw the puck at the net almost from the goal line, and Ryan Misiak nearly put it past Lukas Hafner. Travis Howe drew a tripping call behind the Eagles’ net, but Ryan Olsen flew in, and even though Mitch Maxwell got back in time, Olsen made it 1-0 short-handed.

Things continued to look pretty bleak for a while after that as well. When the Eagles returned to full strength, Ryan Siiro beat Brandon Wildung on a cross crease pass from Jake Marto. 2-0 at 4:40, and it looked like the game was teetering on the verge of a blow out.

But whatever the Grizzlies issues may be, or have been, this season, they have never given up easily.

Misiak got boarded at 8:16, and the Grizzlies drew another power play. This one ended without mishap as the team got their feet under them.

At 12:52 Maxwell made it 2-1, freezing Hafner, and roofing it for his second goal in as many nights from Howe and Jake Marchment, cutting the lead in half. Utah then killed off a Michael Pelech tripping called a minute later.

The third line continued to absolutely shine, and at 17:49, Maxwell shot the puck on net. Marchment collared the rebound on the edge of the blue paint, and sent it cross-crease to Howe who scored his third of the season to tie it up.

Jones and Brady Shaw took matching minors for cross-checking and embellishment respectively at 19:02, and at the end of 20 the Grizzlies headed into the room tied 2-2, shots 13-5 in their favor. They never looked back.

The second opened with what should have been about a minute of four-on-four, but instead was twenty seconds of four-on-four before Pelech took a tripping call to put the Grizzlies down four-on-three. The team fought hard though, allowing only two shots on the short-handed situation. Misiak flew in with a short-handed look during that time, but continued to be plagued by bad luck, and Hafner turned it aside.

Utah drew another power play as Marchment got roughed, and after the whistle, a crowed gathered, which resulted in Jones and Joey Ratelle both getting five for fighting as well.

Brendan and the Ryans continued to be outrageously snakebitten, as all three converged on Hafner, but were unable to beat him. Howe also got a glorious opportunity for a second goal, but was denied as well.

With 13:53 to go, Drayson Bowman got two for slashing, and Utah went to yet another power play. Utah continued to put together their best period of hockey this weekend. Pelech spun and fired a great shot on Hafner, and so did Mitton, But the Eagles returned to full strength with no change in score, and Howe leveled Ben Storm right as the Eagles were whistled off side.

The Grizzlies continued to roll with a vengeance, playing stellar defense, getting sticks down in lanes, crowding puck-carriers off the puck, and spending long shifts in the offensive zone. Nate Mitton flew around absolutely fearlessly laying hits on Matt Register and Teigan Zahn, and then helping generate scoring chances left right and center.

With just eight seconds to go, Ryan Walters took a tripping call, but after 40, the Grizzlies had out worked and out-shot Colorado to the tune of 24-12.

Utah killed off the Walters penalty, allowing only one shot on the opening advantage. Colorado played for several minutes in the offensive zone, before the Grizzlies got on their horse, and responded with a couple of great shifts from some newish lines, one centered by Brad Navin with Misiak and Pelech, the other by Walters with Harms and Thomas.

It was the later line that put the crowning touch on the game. Brendan Harms electrified the 9,288 fans in attendance by making it 3-2 at 9:54 finally capitalizing on some lengthy Utah dominance.

Neal Goff took a roughing call against Thomas 11:36 into the third, and Hafner had to be helped off the ice after his skate blade broke. He came back a couple of shifts later, however, and the Eagles killed off the penalty.

Colorado bore down, but the Grizzlies fought them off, forcing players like Olsen to rush back and play defense against former line-mates in Walters and Harms.

With 1:30 to go, the Eagles pulled Hafner for the extra skater. The Grizzlies twice grazed the outer netting of the empty net, and when the final buzzer went, they were the victors.

Harms’ five shots led the team, and his goal stood up as the game winner. He was named a well deserved first star of the game,  Wildung got second star, and Howe the third with his second professional multi-point night in the last six games. Maxwell easily could have been a star as well, like Howe netting a goal and an assist, and picking up his third point in the last two games.

“We battled hard this weekend. That’s a good team right there, that team works hard.” Branham said of Colorado. “There is a reason why they are defending champs, and doing so well the way that they are. We are going to take a couple days and rest, spend some time with the Booster Club tomorrow. Rest up for a couple days and get back out there on Tuesday, prepare for Idaho. We play well against Idaho, we play well in Idaho. Can’t take that for granted, we have to make sure that we come ready to play. They’re a good team as well.”

Unsurprisingly, he had nothing but praise for Howe. “He’s been amazing. Absolutely amazing. Played a regular shift tonight. The way he’s blocking shots, and getting pucks out, and playing defence, and producing. I don’t know how many points he has recently, it’s a lot. It’s great. He’s got a lot of space out there because no one wants to go around him. But, he’s using it to his advantage. He’s an unbelievable force in our dressing room as well, as well as in the community. Really happy for him. He’s come a long way, and I’m really, really happy for him.”

Howe himself was just happy to have helped the team, and quick with praise for his line-mates. “Really realistically, anything I can do to help the team out, and tonight I just happened to get put in a situation where I was able to put up a couple of points…and playing with Marchment, Maxwell those are unbelievable hockey players, so it just makes the game so much easier. I haven’t got a Gordie yet and I was hoping to get one tonight but as long as you got the win that’s really all that matters.”

Thanks to regulation losses by Allen and Tulsa, Utah trails the former by four points, and the later by two in the push for the final spot.

“Yeah, I mean, the other teams lose it’s huge.” Howe said of the outcome of those games, “But at the same time, we’re just focusing on us right now. Chipping away, trying to win every game, get as many points as we can to climb the ladder, and hopefully we get that last playoff spot.”

There isn’t a lot of time left, but as every sports fan knows, it ain’t over till it’s over, and as every Grizzlies’ fan knows, this team isn’t going down without a fight.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: Keep Your Friends Close…

With Taylor Richart out, and Chris Leibinger no longer with the team, the Grizzlies went with five defensemen, eleven forwards, and scratched Charley Graaskamp in favor of Nate Mitton. Joel Rumpel got the start behind some very different looking lines.

“I thought that was a fun game.” Tim Branham said after the game. “That was a good hockey game full of lots of mistakes, that’s for sure. Our power play’s hurting us, that’s for sure. But you’ve got to give credit too, they have one of the best kills in the league, so obviously if we could have taken advantage on the power play, or had we not gotten scored on on the power play, either one it’s a different story. But that’s a good hockey club, and I’m proud of the way our boys — I thought we came out really flat, they scored that first goal, it was like we were standing still, then we took it to them hard.”

That first goal came 1:05 in, when the Utah defense failed to pick up Joey Ratelle.

About five minutes four minutes later, Drayson Bowman and Travis Howe both got two for roughing, but the resulting four-on-four saw no change of score, or shots.

At 3:51 Howe and Teigan Zahn squared off at center ice and duked it out in a battle of heavyweights to the great delight of all 7,074 fans in attendance. It was a fairly even fight, but Howe got the last punch. Both got five, and on the very next shift, a sprawling Kyle Thomas poked the puck past Joe Cannata to tie the game.

Brad Navin took a hooking call at 9:06, but Ryan Olsen took an offensive zone slashing call about a minute later, and the teams played four-on-four, before a Utah power play.

Jake Marchment just narrowly missed tipping in a shot from Sam Babintsev, but the Eagles returned to full strength with no change in score, though the Grizzlies had taken over the shot lead.

With 3:08 to go, Ryan Misiak was boarded, and headed straight for the locker room, though he ended up not missing a shift. Ratelle got two for boarding.

With just over two to go, all nine guys tangled after a whistle, resulting not so much in a line brawl as a line tussle. James Melindy and Ben Storm were both sent off to the locker rooms.

However, with 46 seconds to go, and the Eagles back at full strength, the Grizzlies coughed up the puck at Colorado’s blue line, and Ratelle made it 2-1.

At the end of the second, Utah trailed 2-1, despite out-shooting the Eagles 16-7.

The Grizzlies came out hot to start the second, Brendan Harms’ shot whistling just over the cross bar, and then Utah drew a power play at 1:06 as a Utah player was hauled down in front of the Eagles’ net.

They put up six shots on the advantage, including several as Cannata was down, but didn’t have the puck covered.

The third line caused all sorts of chaos around the net at around the four minute mark, and Maxwell got dinged for roughing after he gave Olsen a couple of extra shoves.

Gage Ausmus took a hooking call 25 seconds later, but the Grizzlies killed it off, and Melindy sprang Mitch Maxwell straight from the box to tie the game all alone short-handed.

The chippy game continued, and at with half the period to go, Thomas and Gabriel Verpaelst had to be separated.

Walters was tripped up at 13:08, and Utah went to the power play. They got some zone time, but the biggest play was a short-handed breakaway that Rob Mann just barely got back in time to muddle, and Rumpel made a great save.

The play continued, fairly free flowing and continuous through the end of the period, and with 2:41 to go, the Eagles took a cross-checking minor.

At that point, however, the Eagles went the other way, and Gabriel Verpaelst beat Rumpel glove-side to make it 3-2 short handed.

With a couple of seconds left on the power play, Navin took a tripping call, and the Grizzlies ended the second on the kill, out-shooting the Eagles 33-20, but trailing 3-2.

Utah opened the third with 1:17 of penalty kill time, but they kept the Eagles chasing the puck back into their own zone for most of the whole of the disadvantage.

Michael Pelech took a tripping penalty of his own at 5:21, but the Grizzlies killed that one off too. The most dangerous opportunity went to Olsen, who danced into the offensive zone, was leveled by Melindy, got the puck back, and then had Rumpel calmly glove down his shot.

Unfortunately, Ratelle capped off his hat trick with 9:04 to go. Things looked a little bleak for the next few minutes, but the Grizzlies weren’t done just yet. At 13:25, Harms capitalized on a gorgeous shot, putting the Grizzlies within one, before drawing a power play on the next shift. The advantage accomplished nothing.

Although the teams went four-on-four at 16:44 after Thomas and Brady Shaw got sent off after a tangle by the benches, and Utah went on the four-on-three for a minute before pulling Rumpel for the extra skater, they were unable to tie it up.

Despite the loss, it was a fun game, and the Grizzlies put up another good fight. The difference, once again, being a defensive lapse or two. As per usual, games against the Eagles are never boring.

Thomas got the third star of the game, and he and Harms both led the team with five shots each. Having put up 42 total shots on Cannata (whose .933 SV% leads the league), all but two Grizzlies registered shots.

“The shots were 26-11 at one point,” Branham said. “You can’t play much better than that. We missed a few key opportunities, I mean, they have an NHL goaltender. They have a goaltender that doesn’t belong in this league, they’re lucky, but it is what is. I thought we did a great job, I thought they played a much better third period, first half of the third period, and then we kind of took it to them from then on, but it was a good hockey game, to be honest. We’re a couple of players away from beating a team like that, unfortunately. You’ve got to give them credit, they battled hard for sure.”

And they did it without Richart, who has, over the course of the season, developed into the best defenseman on the team, relied upon in all situations.

“There’s definitely still hope. Definitely losing Taylor in the last two games — he got hurt early last game — really hurts us, as far as power play, match-ups, things of that nature, it is what it is. The team, they still believe. There are six games left, and the teams that we’re chasing have some tough schedules. We’re never going to quit. That’s for sure.”

Getting those two points against the Eagles is a matter of taking care of their own game first.

“They’re a great team,”Brendan Harms said, “So everything you give them they take advantage of. They’re very opportunistic, so I think we’ve just got to shut it down defensively, be a little better in our own zone, take away what we’re giving them.”

Utah will hope to put all that into action on Military Night this Saturday (tonight) when they once again face Colorado for the penultimate time this season.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff.