Another close game, another point collected in Manchester.
The Grizzlies hustled right out of the gates, getting the first shot from Brad Navin, who looked determined to start a new streak. He got two of the team’s first four shots, and at 3:08 the Grizzlies drew the first penalty. The early power play wasn’t able to score, but both lines generated chances, and the second unit of Navin, Michael Pelech, Kyle Thomas, Sam Babintsev, and Chris Leibinger continued to pressure after the Monarchs returned to full strength.
Manchester got their first lengthy possession around the 6:30, both teams got three-on-ones stopped by their goalies, and then Thomas roared in, and made it 1-0 at 8:04 with assists from Leibinger and Navin.
Exactly two minutes later, Kevin Morris tripped Navin in the Utah defensive zone, and the Grizzlies got another crack at the advantage. With eight seconds left in the power play, there was a collision in front of the Utah net, and that left Taylor Richart down on the ice. He went down the tunnel, but came back quickly, and didn’t even miss a shift.
Navin took a hooking call at 13:36, but a good kill, including a short-handed move by Harms, and some nice stops from Joel Rumpel took Utah out of danger.
James Melindy and Matt Schmalz tangled at 19:31 after Schmalz boarded a Utah player. Somehow, the teams ended up four-on-four to end the period, and after the whistle Manchester caused a crowd to gather as the teams headed off the ice.
The second began with about a minute and a half of four-on-four, which expired without event.
Thomas took a slashing call at 4:37, and then Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman ran over Rumpel, putting the teams once more on the four-on-four for 15 seconds, before a Utah power play. To say the power play was disastrous would be an understatement, as Thomas lost an edge trying to take the puck away from Joel Lowry, who pounced and tied it up short-handed.
Jake Marchment and Jake Wood dropped the gloves at 8:37. Marchment went to remove his helmet, but when Wood didn’t reciprocate, he put it back on, and then proceeded to punch Wood’s off. Both got five for fighting.
Unfortunately, one of the best second period teams in the league continued to show why they’ve earned that reputation, scoring again at 13:26.
The Grizzlies handily killed off a delay of game penalty on Gage Ausmus, and the third line once again had a great shift, drawing a power play of their own. Navin nearly missed on a shot from the point, but on the next shift, Richart made no such mistake, blasting one past Evan Cowley for his league leading 17th of the year at 18:47.
Babintsev gave up a turnover in the last couple of seconds of the period, but Rumpel made the save, and after 40, the teams were all tied up 2-2, shots 20-15 for Utah.
Ryan Walters and Brendan Harms had a nice shift to start the third, as did the third line. Manchester counterattacked though, and Navin went to the box again for hooking. Thanks to some good defense from Richart, a good save from Rumpel, and a short-handed attempt from Harms and Thomas, the penalty was killed off.
Both teams brought their full effort in the minutes that followed, the Grizzlies getting another especially great shift from the third line.
There weren’t a whole lot of whistles in the middle of the period, but the Monarchs iced the puck several times in a row around the five minute mark.
The first two lines got a bit of a shuffle down the stretch, Navin skating with Walters and Mitch Maxwell , while Pelech centered Harms and Misiak, but neither team was able to break the deadlock, and Utah headed to OT once more.
Both teams got chances, including a couple from Leibinger and Navin, but with 58 seconds to go, the Monarchs again took the other point in OT.
So Utah takes two points against the best team in the North Division, Harms’ point streak extends to five, Misiak has 15 points in 15 games, and Richart continues to lead all defensemen with 17 goals.
The Grizzlies are now 8-1-2-2 in the last 13, and head next to Worcester, where they’ll face Barry Almeida, T.J. Syner, and the Railers Sunday at 1 PM MT.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff.