Utah Grizzlies: Learning Curve

A new season, new threads, a new captain, and 16 brand new faces. There’s a lot that’s new, but there’s still lot that’s familiar. Once again, the Grizzlies begin the year facing their long-time rivals, the Idaho Steelheads, and though there are mostly new faces, eight players have returned, and that new captain we mentioned? That’s Taylor Richart.

The first game of the season got off to a bit of a tentative start, both teams feeling each other out in the early going.

By the half-way point, returnee Travis Barron had laid a big hit, Griffen Molino had a chance, and the likes of Yuri Terao, and Peter Tischke had shown off a little of what they can do.

By the half-way point, the Grizzlies were able to string together a number of successive shifts in the offensive zone. They followed that up with several defensive zone shifts that earned some appreciative cheers, as the shot clock climbed to seven all in the scoreless first.

Josh Dickinson took the first penalty of the season at 14:01, but Hunter Miska made a number of quick saves, including a particularly nice one glove side to keep it scoreless.

Unfortunately, Zack Andrusiak made it 1-0 on the power play, and Idaho struck again quickly thereafter to make it 2-0.

Cole Cassels took a high-stick with 45 seconds to go, and the Grizzlies headed into first intermission with 1:14 of power play coming up.

Utah got a shot on the advantage to start the second, but were otherwise unable to set up until Yuri Terao snuck past everyone following the power play. Tomas Sholl turned his attempt aside, as well as a big shot from Tischke.

Ryan Black took a hooking call about 4:30 into the second, and Molino followed him to the box on a tripping call, but Utah successfully killed both.

Tischke and Keegan Kanzig headed off to the box very shortly thereafter for matching unsportsmanlike conduct minors as the game got chippy. Travis Barron got a look, and Miska made another few saves.

Dickinson drew a power play of his own about half-way through the second, and Travis Barron scored Utah’s first goal of the seasonβ€”a tap in from Brandon Saigeon.

Cassels drew a power play shortly thereafter, but Idaho killed it off, and scored again out of the box with 5:16 to go. Nine seconds later, Patrick McGrath dropped the gloves with Kanzig despite giving up a good seven inches and nearly 50 pounds lighter. Both were sent off for fighting.

Molino created some buzz with under two to go, showing off a sweet shot and some nice, crisp passing, and Terao drew a late power play, but after 40 the Grizzlies continued to trail.

They were unable to get anything going on the power play, but at 1:44, Terao slid the puck past Tomas Sholl to put the Grizzlies back within one. Idaho took a delay of game penalty shortly thereafter, and Cassels nearly had his first of the season, but only just missed beating Sholl.

Barron had a big shift, but it culminated in a penalty, and the loudest boo from the fans all night. The penalty put Utah on the 5-on-3 for 1:36, but the killers went to work with a will, and between a big block from Richart, and a good stick from Yao among other things, the Grizzlies returned to full strength.

Utah picked up some momentum heading towards the final five minutes, but although they got some offensive zone cycling going, they remained unable to challenge Sholl.

Utah pressed more strongly in the third, but a soft roughing call on Cassels put them back in the box with a bit over three to go.

The Grizzlies returned to full strength after a strong kill, and pulled Miska for the extra skater, but they weren’t able to beat the clock. So the season begins with a 3-2 loss, and quite a scuffle post-buzzer, but there were definitely some positives to take away from it.

The third period was by far the best of the lot, with Utah establishing some zone time, and showing more cohesion than in the previous two periods.

Although Miska gave up three goals, he otherwise looked solid in net. You can see that all the pieces are there, but they just haven’t quite worked out how to make them all mesh just yet.

We chatted with Richart after the game about the captaincy, and the new team.

“It feels good, it’s an honor,” he said. “Great organization from top to bottom. Learned a lot from the guys before me, especially Zahn last year. He’s a great leader and he kind of took me under his wing last year. To follow him is a big honor.”

The season has barely begun, but Richart already likes how the team is coming together, both on and off the ice.

“It’s early, but a lot of the guys are gelling well We struggled a little bit in the first there, but I thought as the game went on we were feeling each other out. Outside the locker room, guys are hanging out, we’re a pretty close group. It’s fun to be around the guys, and I think everyone feels that way.”

Both Richart and Head Coach Tim Branham emphasized fact that while there’s still plenty of work to be done, they like where the team is headed.

“We started a little slow, it’s the first game, long season, we just got to get our legs going, be confident in one another. I think we’re kind of trying to do a little bit too much right now,” Richart said. Going forward “so just to build off that third period, we’ve just gotta play that way the whole game.”

“As the game went on, we got better,” Branham said. “We’ve gotta learn from that. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Definitely happy with the way we ended the game.”

“We’re learning how to play together,” he added. “We still have a lot of guys we put into the lineup that didn’t play preseason with us, then by the third period we were playing our game. We were keeping things a little more simple, I think the first two periods we were trying to beat guys one-on-one instead of driving wide and keeping things simple. Supporting the puck, creating two-on-ones, that kind of thing.

“Definitely a few things we need to clean up. I thought the penalty kill was ok, we could be better there. I thought as the game went on we were much better up ice. Power play had chances, we hit a couple of posts there in the second period, could have been different. But that’s a good team, it’s always a good team, they’ve got good defense, good goaltending, you can’t beat those guys one-on-one, you gotta play as a team against them.”

Fortunately, as the first pre and regular season games have shown, the Grizzlies have some good goaltending of their own. Of Hunter Miska and Mason McDonald, Branham said:

“We’ve got two really good goaltenders. Hunter’s played in the NHL, he’s a good goaltender. He moves really well, he’s got a great attitude, Mason’s the same thing. Mason’s a little bigger, and takes up a lot more of the net, and he’s got a great attitude as well.”

“He’s just so confident, so poised,” Richart concluded, speaking of Miska, “You know what you’re gonna get out of him every night. He plays the puck well, he’s talking, he makes the big saves, he’s a great goalie.”

 

 

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 vs Rapid City Rush: Constructive Chaos

In the very last meeting between Rapid City and Utah in 2018-19, Joe Cannata once again got the start, Eric Freschi and Will Smith and Joey Raats sat out for new ATO signing Tanner Nagel, and Austin Carroll made his long awaited return to the lineup. Jake Marchment remained sidelined with an injury, as did Grayson Downing as Utah looked to clinch their playoff spot.

First Period

  • Carroll gets the second shot of the period on his first shift back!
  • Cole Ully gets a two-on-one-ish, but RC breaks it up before it hits the net. Shots are 4-2 for RC about five into the first.
  • Considering how grumpy the first period was on Saturday, it’s been surprisingly quiet in the early going.
  • A couple of really nice saves from Cannata there on the PK.
  • Carroll doing what he does best, creating mayhem and drawing power plays.
  • Taylor Richart with a great play to keep the puck in the zone on the PP.
  • It hasn’t led to anything yet, but the passing on the power play is looking really good.
  • Jack Walker flies in on the back-check to break up a developing one-on-none short-handed. Pretty sure he should be Jack Runner, or Jack Sprinter, or maybe Jack Roadrunner.
  • Sooo players collide, and go figure, it’s Carroll causing chaos again. And drawing penalties again.
  • There’s a reason I call him Chaos on Skates.
  • ULLY SCORES. JK. Ully does not score. Goalie interference called, apparently. Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―
  • …And to add insult to injury, RC makes it 1-0 short handed.
  • Jack Riley picks up his second hooking call of the period mere moments after the Rush returned to full strength.
  • THAT ONE COUNTS.
  • Richart was ROBBED.
  • 1-1 after 20, shots 14-13 for Utah.

Second Period

  • Really strong offensive zone shift from Carroll and crew about three minutes in.
  • Mitch Maxwell with a pair of strong defensive plays there.
  • Utah has a nice shift in the offensive zone, so of course, RC scores on the counterattack.
  • Good response from Utah though. Unfortunately, Carlson. (Where have we heard THAT one before. πŸ™„)
  • Oh geez. The puck went through Cannata at a really weird angle, hit the post, and then was snagged by a Utah player. Everyone breathe a sigh of relief!
  • Please go play in the offensive zone.
  • Richart has come really close on several occasions tonight
  • OTTER ON THE POWER PLAY. Tie game!

  • Carlson loses his mask twice in the span of two shifts!! O.O
  • Richart currently leads the team with seven shots.
  • Oh, there’s the cantankerousness that was missing from this game.
  • We give you one guess to pick who was in the middle of all the mayhem around Carlson.
  • If you guessed Carroll, you were right.
  • Oh, that was an unfortunately good goal. Cannata had the whole side sealed up, EXCEPT the one spot that Poulsen found.
  • 3-2 RC after 40.

Third Period

  • Grizz start the third on the power play.
  • Ully almost had an absolute beauty, but rang iron.
  • THAT EARLY POWER PLAY DID NOT GO THE WAY OF MOST. WALKER TIES THE GAME.

  • When Carroll isn’t creating chaos, he’s creating really nice takeaways/scoring chances like that one.
  • Oh wow. That was a great shift from Herbert, Gage Ausmus, Michael Economos, Joey Ratelle and Gabriel Verpaelst.
  • Utah is piling on the good shifts.
  • Well, that’s a new one, the Grizzlies’ net was just taken off and replaced!
  • Ratelle with a nifty dipsy-doodle to elude the Rush defensemen.
  • Watching defenders converge on Carroll is like watching a very strong magnet move through metal objects. He just draws defenders to him, which leads to the aforementioned chaos.
  • Uhhhhg power play goal Rush.
  • Carlson was WAY out of position, and STILL robbed Ryan Walters.
  • That definitely should have been tripping drawn by Walker.
  • In order to tie the game up, you’re definitely gonna have to go play on the other end of the ice…
  • 1:42 and Utah’s net is empty.
  • Herbert rings iron, and Utah draws a power play!!
  • Well, it went RIGHT down to the wire, and there was some INCREDIBLE plays from Verpaelst among others, to keep the puck away from the empty net.
  • If nothing else, that was a highly entertaining game, and thank goodness, that’s the end of the Rush for this season.
  • Rush win 4-3, shots 39-31 for Utah.

 

Caleb Herbert scored his thirtieth goal of the season, and is in the top five goal scorers, despite having played anywhere between five and ten games less than the players in front of him. His opening power play goal, and the assist on Walker’s tally earned him second star honors, while Turner Ottenbreit was named third star. Richart put up nine shots, and Carroll’s return seemed to bring a jolt of electricity through the entire lineup.

It was definitely an exciting game from start to finish, but the loss was made frustrating by the Ully goal that was waved off for supposed goalie interference in the first period.

“He even admitted he made a mistake on our goal that he waived off, should have had four power play goals. If he counts that goal, they don’t get their short handed goal” Tim Branham said. “Every time we have this guy it’s like that. It is what it is. You gotta battle through it and come out. But when you’re playing against a team that works hard and you have an extremely good goaltender that you’re playing against, this stuff gets magnified, and when the referee is dictating the outcome of the game, it makes it tough.”

After some struggles on the man advantage the Grizzlies scored four power play goals, even if only three of them counted.

“We had a little dry spell there,” Caleb Herbert said, when asked about the improvement. “So we switched a few things around, kind of simplified our end zone set up, got back to the basics like shooting pucks, puck retrievals, things like that. Tonight, pucks started going in. I think earlier in the series we were doing ok, but pucks weren’t going in, Carlson was making some big saves, so we got a couple good bounces tonight, and that obviously helps too.”

“He’s a talented hockey player, that’s for sure.”Branham said when asked about his 30 goal scorer. “He’s got a lot of talent, he does some fun stuff out there. He can shoot the puck, he’s got a great release, he’s really fast when he wants to skate, he’s had a good season.”

He had praise for Carroll’s performance as well. “I thought he had an amazing game, I thought played really well, he controlled the play, cycling in the offensive zone, made some good puck decisions, I thought he was really good tonight.”

While Coach Branham spoke about Carroll’s individual play, Herbert elaborated more on Carroll’s impact on the team as a whole in addition to his play on its own.

“Austin’s a really good player, he brings it every night. You know what you’re gonna get out of him–100% effort. Obviously you saw him in front of the net tonight, stirring things up and being a real physical presence out there. I think we’ve been missing a bit of that with him being out, so it’s obviously great to get him back, and he’s a big piece of the puzzle moving forward, so it’s gonna be good.”

“We’re getting some guys back here from injury, kind of fills out our lineup a little more, we’re a little more solid, we play with a little more grit, we have a little more depth.” Herbert added, “I think heading down the stretch that’s gonna be important for us, having those guys back, and I think we’re gonna turn the corner here heading into playoffs and have some momentum on our end.”

The momentum will have to be built on the road, however, as the Grizzlies head out for the final road trip of the year which will see them hit Allen, Wichita, Allen again, then Tulsa before they return home to close out the season against Idaho.

 

Goals

  • First Period: Herbert (Economos, Walker) (PP)
  • Second Period: Ottenbreit (Carroll, Walters) (PP)
  • Third Period: Walker (Herbert, Economos) (PP)

UTA: 3/7 (10 PIM)
RC: 1/4 (16 PIM)

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Grizzlies vs Mariners: Righting the Ship

With Ryan Walters suspended for one game, and Gabriel Verpaelst not yet in town, the Grizzlies found themselves with only thirteen players once again. Joe Cannata got the start on Marvel night, as the Grizzlies took on Maine on Marvel Night, dressed as Captain America and Iron Man respectively.

First Period

  • Grizzlies are pressuring hard early, and the jerseys look really, really good.
  • The Ully special, stick handling with zero room.
  • I do not know how the Grizzlies kept the puck out of the net on that shift.
  • Five-on-three number one of the night…
  • Good kill boys, good kill!
  • Aaaaand back to the box we go.
  • Taylor, don’t you dare be hurt…
  • WILL SMITH FROM TAYLOR RICHART AND MITCH MAXWELL!!
  • Cannata is looking very sharp tonight.
  • Shots are 15-9 after one for Maine, but the Grizz still lead 1-0.

Second Period

  • Uhg tie game.
  • Cannata was playing so well, and suddenly two quick goals for Maine.
  • Good push-back though.
  • The things that Cole Ully can do with zero space are remarkable. And I know I remark on them every time, but it’s worth it.
  • Joey Raats did not miss by much on that one!
  • That was a very strong shift.
  • There’s still a LOT of hockey to play, but the Grizzlies really don’t look like a team playing horrifically short-handed.
  • HERBERT TIES IT UP AGAIN ON THE POWER PLAY. What a move through traffic to get the shot for his 29th!!

  • Teigan Zahn boards Josh Couturier and gets five and a game. Just what this short-handed team needed.
  • Richart draws two power plays in a row!
  • Fox to the box.
  • CANNATA STONES A GUY ON A ONE-ON-NONE SHORT-HANDED BREAKAWAY.
  • 2-2 after 40, shots 23-22 for Maine.

Third Period

  • Third period begins on a brief power play.
  • Good energy in the third.
  • Ack. Wraparound goal for Maine
  • ULLY TIES IT UP ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • Both teams are buzzing.
  • oH. MY. GOD. JOE. Two huge saves two-on-none, and then another for good measure!!
  • Turner Ottenbreit rings iron, and Michael Economos draws a power play!
  • Gage Ausmus with a bomb, but it’s wide.
  • LOTS of offensive zone time for the Grizzlies this period.
  • Oh man. ten seconds left, offensive zone draw for Utah. Can they do it?
  • Nope.

OT

  • JOSH DICKINSON WINS IT IN OT.
  • Oh and it was super pretty too.

Ully and Herbert once again were named first and second star with a goal and an assist, while Josh Dickinson’s OT heroics earned him third star of the game. Taylor Richart put up three primary assists, and was named the defenseman of the game, while Cannata saved 32/35. Utah was a perfect 0/6 on the penalty kill in the game, and closed out the series against the Mariners without allowing a single power play goal. Herbert led the team with six shots, while Ottenbreit, Ully, and Economos were close behind with five each.

“We played four guys short for the majority of the game.” Tim Branham said after the game. “There’s a lot of character in that room, a lot of heart and soul.”

“Can’t say enough about the job these guys have done in that locker room.” He added later, “Sticking together, I don’t know how many penalties we killed again tonight, it’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done. Joe was outstanding in net, did a great job, made some huge saves, gave us a chance to win. Our power play is excellent again, special teams have really led the way for us this season, despite who we’ve had in the lineup. Really proud of this group.”

As well as the Grizzlies have played short-handed, it’s not a situation that anyone relishes. Fortunately, it sounds like reinforcements are on their way.

“Finally next week now we’re gonna start to get some bodies back. We’ll add Verpaelst, we’ll get Marchment, we’ll get Downing. Then the following week we’ll be able to add Carroll, we’ll be able to add Ratelle.”

Cannata had a pretty good game on Friday, but was even better on Saturday, and received a fair bit of praise as a result.

“I think Joe’s played some good hockey,” said Branham, “He’s made some big saves for us. Today was no different. There was a stretch there in the third, he made three saves right in a row at the end there. He’s been there before, he knows how to get the job done. Being able to add a guy like Verpaelst, who’s been there before, knows how to get the job done, Zahn, you can’t say enough about experience and guys who have been through the grind. I think Joe has done a remarkable job, a great job this season.”

Josh Dickinson’s thoughts on Cannata’s contribution to the win were similar.

“When we’re down in a game and you’ve got a goalie who’s playing like that, it’s so inspiring. Every game it comes from the back end out, and when your goalie’s making cross-crease saves back-to-back-to-back, you just want to win it for him too. It’s so nice to have him back there, and Carrsy’s great too, so we always wanna win it for our goalies as well.”

As mentioned, the Grizzlies were quite short handed to begin with, and then lost Zahn half-way through the second period. However, the remaining four defensemen buckled down and made it work.

“Our young guys have played some big minutes.” Branham said. “You look at Anderson, you look at Ottenbreit coming in from major junior, it’s a big step, and they’ve played big minutes and done an unbelievable job. They played big minutes, but also a lot of hockey, and it’s great experience for them. Then you’ve got guys like Ausmus and Richart. One thing’s for sure, when the going gets tough with this group, they respond. I know we were on a little bit of a skid there, but it’s a lot of adversity, and hopefully now there’s light there at the end of the tunnel with Ully back and Marchment and Downing and Verpaelst. We gotta get on a roll now.”

When asked about his OT game winner, Dickinson was pretty matter of fact.

“Yeah, I just had the time going down the wall, and I think it was a forward covering me on defense, so I saw he kind of lunged for the puck a little bit, so I just brought the puck to my backhand, and hoped for the best and shot it!”

Branham was a bit more effusive in his praise when asked about Dickinson’s play, both tonight and this series in general. “This weekend was phenomenal for Dickinson. He’s playing with an edge, his skills, you can see his skills out there, the skill level that he has, scoring goals, great attitude, he played a lot of hockey, he played every other shift tonight, him and Herbert, so good for them, and hopefully he can just keep that going”

Both Dickinson and Branham emphasized the need to keep the momentum going as they get more bodies back in the lineup and head out on the road, where they hope to keep the wins coming against Rapid City.

Goals

  • First: Smith (Richart, Maxwell)
  • Second: Herbert (Richart, Ully (PP)
  • Third: Ully (Richart, Herbert) (PP)
  • OT: Dickinson (Ottenbreit)

UTA: 2/7 (25 PIM)
MNE: 0/6 (16 PIM)

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: Fending Off the Steel

On a much less snowy night, the Grizzlies looked to give a repeat of Wednesday’s performance. With Sergei Boikov recalled to Colorado, Joey Raats drew back in, while Kevin Carr once again got the start.

First Period

  • Josh Dickinson and Kyle Schempp getting into it early along the boards.
  • Shots are 1-1 after the first four minutes, but it’d definitely be good if the play spent more time in the offensive zone…
  • Anderson and Moroz drop the gloves, and Moroz gets an extra two for instigating!
  • That was a silky, silky move by Herbert. And THAT was a very nice look by Henke.
  • Caleb Herbert is SO much fun to watch.
  • Marchment and his face-off wins. So reliable.
  • The Nantel-Downing-Herbert line has been so close to finding the back of the net so many times this period. Starting to get the feeling that it’s only a matter of time before they capitalize.
  • Idaho strikes iron on the power play, and there is a collective gasp from the crowd. But we’re back at full strength!
  • I don’t entirely understand how that Zahn shot didn’t go in.
  • THAT ONE’S IN FOR SURE. J.T. Henke makes it 1-0 on a rebound from Gage Ausmus and Dickinson!!

  • The back half of this period has been much better than the front. Everyone looks more engaged.

Second Period

  • Puck support and active sticks. Gotta love it.
  • So naturally, Idaho sores.
  • Carr’s had to make some extra athletic moves in the past couple minutes!
  • Some nifty mitts from Grayson Downing, and Herbert didn’t miss the net by much to finish it off.
  • Sholl with a CRAZY scramble there, and somehow no one beat him on the power play.
  • Herbert splits the D, but rings it off the cross-bar. He does draw a power play though!
  • THAT’S TWO FOR J.T.!!! Ottenbreit and Walters with the assists!
  • Walters with the stealth attack there.
  • 1:32 of 4-on-4 coming up now.
  • Dear Idaho, please stop flying into the Grizzlies’ net. You’re making making us all very nervous on Carr’s behalf.
  • OH GEEZ TAYLOR. Richart plays the role of Superman, saving the day by diving behind Carr and batting the puck out of danger!!!
  • OTTENBREIT.
  • 3-1 Utah after 40!!!
  • Even more impressive, they only allowed four shots!

Third Period

  • Richart is having himself a NIGHT. Big defensive move there to tie up the Idaho player in front of Carr.
  • Seriously, one of these days the incredibly close calls the first line is having will end up in the back of the net. That latest look by Nantel was crazy.
  • Matching minors now…Idaho is pressing…
  • Nantel absolutely flies in, but still can’t beat Sholl.
  • Carr’s stick work has been so strong this game.
  • Nantel with an amazing look short-handed. He’s got the trifecta of beautiful looks this game. Or, if you will, the hat trick of frustration.
  • Oh great. 5-on-3 for 33 seconds…
  • Idaho draws within one on the power play.
  • Well, they certainly had the right idea on that shift. Some really good passing to keep Idaho moving.
  • Four minutes is too much time with a one goal lead, and the notoriously good-in-the-third-period Steelheads…
  • Two minutes…
  • HERBERT INTO THE EMPTY NET.
  • We get chili, we get chili!!
  • Matching penalties…
  • …and a goal for Idaho…
  • GRIZZLIES HOLD ON FOR THE 4-3 WIN.Β 

Henke (2 goals), Ottenbreit (1 goal, 1 assist), and Ausmus (1 assist) were named the three stars of the game.

“It’s nothing fancy, just getting shots on net and getting lucky” said Henke about his penchant for finding the score board twice.”

He waxed far more eloquent about the team’s overall effort.

“We played great, holding a team like that to only 23 shots is pretty good, Carrsy stood on his head. They only had 23 shots, but they were all hard, Grade A shots, especially there at the end, and he came through huge.”

He wasn’t the only one to praise Carr’s play. When asked about his diving save in the second period, Taylor Richart was also quick to refer to the play which has helped the Grizzlies to points or wins in all three of his last stars.

“I was kind of boxing a guy out,” said Richart, “And I saw the shot come, and at the last second I saw it trickling through, so I knew I had to do something, cause I don’t think Carrsy saw it. But either way, I though he played really well. He’s been playing really well lately. All in all, I think it was a good defensive team effort.”

Head Coach Tim Branham was also pleased with the team’s efforts against a tough opponent.

“Our game plan is just keeping it simple. We’ve got so much talent and skill that we don’t need to cheat to make plays. When you keep things simple and you get pucks in, it keeps them back on their feet. It forces them to come 200 feet and we end up getting turnovers and scoring goals from it. We’ve just got to stick to that game plan. They’re able to score a couple of goals, five-on-three and whatnot, so really proud of how the boys battled through that adversity.”

He also praised the first line, who came agonizingly close to quite a number of goals throughout the game.

“Downing, Herbert, and Nantel, they’ve got everything. They have experience, they’ve got skill, they’ve got goal scoring, they should be dominating every single shift. I thought they were really close to scoring four goals themselves. I thought they had a really good game.”

“It’s been great.” He concluded, summing up the games against Idaho so far, “We got the four points. Tomorrow will be the biggest game of the series. We need to enjoy this one, rest up, and be ready to battle. It’s going to take everybody.”

That would be putting it lightly, as Idaho hasn’t lost two games in a row since November, and will no doubt be looking for some payback in today’s final game of the week.

Goals

  • Henke (Ausmus, Dickinson)
  • Henke (Ottenbreit, Walters) PP
  • Ottenbreit
  • Herbert (Zahn) EN

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography