Utah Grizzlies vs. Wichita Thunder: A Wild, Wild Wednesday

It’s a new year, and I’m going to try something a little different. The Grizzlies always post a game recap on their website, so I’m going to take a leaf out of the Habs Eyes on the Prize book and do a modified version of what we call “Top Six Minutes”, which is very informal in style, and therefore much easier to produce while running around like a mad person during home games.

With the return of Travis Barron, Nolan De Jong, and Jake Marchment, as well as the signing of Stanislav Dzakhov, the Grizzlies played with the closest thing to a full roster that they’d had in weeks. Kevin Carr got the start behind ten forwards and five defensemen, and with Joe Cannata back in the AHL, Jay Stevens made an appearance as the EBUG.

First Period

  • Naturally, former Grizz Ralph Cuddemi gets the first shot of the game. Fortunately, Carr smothers it.
  • Wichita scores first. Not an ideal start, that’s for sure.
  • Really nice defensive move by J.T. Henke there to prevent a one-on-none.
  • Wichita has jumped out to a 5-0 lead in shots…
  • That was a really nifty spin-o-rama from Ryan Walters to hold onto puck possession, and look at that! A power play!
  • Some really quick whistles in a row here…
  • After a rough start, Utah seems to have settled down nicely. Carr with some good saves, and shots are now 5-4.
  • Jack Walker with those wheels.
  • Utah takes over the shot lead with just under five to go in the first!
  • That Sweet Carroll Line picks up right where they left off at the end of last year! Austin Carroll from Walker and De Jong to tie the game!
  • That was NOT a good hit on Dzakhov. He’s down on the ice, and Jakob Stukel gets a match penalty for an illegal check to the head.

Second Period

  • The good news is that Dzakhov is on the bench to start the period.
  • The bad news is that penalties to Marchment and Richart killed off the remainder of that lengthy power play pretty effectively.
  • Of course Cam Reid scores on the power play with an assist from Ralph Cuddemi.
  • Walker ties it up, tapping the puck past Stuart Skinner for his first! Carroll and Marchment get the assists.
  • Barron makes it 3-2 on the power play! Assists to Henke and De Jong.
  • Another power play for Utah, and less than a minute after Barron’s goal, Marchment makes it 4-2 with a sweet move. Carroll and Richart get the assists.
  • PHEW. That was a wild couple of minutes!!
  • Now if they’d stop the insanity for just a few minutes so I can catch my breath…
  • Side note, shots are now 24-10 for Utah!
  • Well, that was a FUN period.

Third Period

  • One of these days that big shot of Gage Ausmus’ is gonna find the back of the net.
  • TIM MCGAULEY GOES BAR DOWN!!
  • Goal number five spells the end of Skinner’s night. Edwin Minney is in net now.
  • Carroll getting up in a Wichita player’s face. Boy is he fun to have back in the lineup. He brings it all: goals, exciting skating, and all that snark!
  • Walters in on a breakaway short-handed gets tied up, but gets an offensive zone draw!
  • McGauley wanted another one, but Minney shuts him down.
  • MacMillan gives Dzakhov a couple of jabs, and when Dzakhov turns around to retaliate, he’s dinged with a penalty.
  • With just under three to go, Iacobellis gets a third, on yet another assist from Reid.
  • 1:30 to go, Wichita’s net is empty…
  • GRIZZLIES WIN 5-3!!! Final shot count 31-22 for Utah.
  • Aaaaand of course there’s nonsense after the buzzer!

The three stars of the game all went to members of the Carroll Line. Carroll himself got first star with a goal and two assists, Walker’s first goal and sixth assist of the year earned him second star (and his five shots led the team), and Marchment got third star, also with a goal and an assist.

“I thought the first ten minutes of that hockey game we were just losing battles, they were beating us to pucks, winning battles, and then as the first period went on I thought we got better” said Tim Branham. “We took control in the second with our power play, for sure, and then in the third I thought we played well too. But there’s still some things we need to clean up to make things a little easier on ourselves, but definitely proud of our effort tonight. We’re short-handed again, and found a way to win.”

When asked what Carroll brings to the lineup, and what his return means to the team Branham said, “American league experience, winning experience, he can make plays, a big part of the early success of our hockey club, it’s definitely nice to have him back for as long as we have him.”

The Grizzlies will face off against the Thunder once again on Friday and Saturday.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

Utah Grizzlies: A Clean Sweep

With three straight wins under his belt, Joe Cannata got a well-deserved night off, Kevin Carr in nets being the only change in lineup.

J.T. Henke, and Jeremy Brodeur both ended up in the back of the Allen net 27 seconds in, sending Henke to the box, and Allen to the power play. There was nearly a disaster as the Utah defense left an Allen player wide open with a clear look at a gaping net, but he whiffed on the shot, and Carr dove on the puck. Henke returned to the ice with no further incident, shots 2-2.

The Grizzlies spent far more time in their own zone early than was strictly comfortable, but Carr kept them at bay early. Utah did also get some nice forays into the offensive zone, including one from Tim McGauley that culminated in a shot that ruffled the outside of the netting,

Carr took a delay of game penalty at 6:16, and David Makowski scored Allen’s first of the series five seconds later.

The Americans continued to keep the Grizzlies in their own end following the goal, though Utah held the slight edge in shots.

At 10:38 Cole Ully put the puck straight through Brodeur to tie the game on his sixth of the year. Unsurprisingly, Caleb Herbert got the primary assist, while Turner Ottenbreit got the secondary.

After the Utah goal, the Grizzlies looked more collected, spending more time in the offensive zone than previously. At about 13:36 Taylor Richart got hit and went off just a little bit gingerly. Jake Marchment took exception to this, and dropped the gloves with Jacob Doty. Doty got the edge on the bout, though Marchment gave a good account of himself, and both were sent off to cool their heels.

Richart broke up a play at the offensive zone blue line, but took a tripping call in doing so with 4:30 to go in the period.

The Grizzlies killed that off, and towards the end of the period, things got a little bit snarly. Gage Ausmus got called for holding, and then as Allen crashed the Utah net, Carr was shoved over. That gathered quite a crowd, and Carr wasn’t afraid to take his own revenge. Spencer Asuchak got two for roughing, and the period came to an end, shots 13-10 for Utah, tied 1-1.

The second period began with 1:20 of four-on-four before a very brief Grizzlies’ power play.

Though both teams got shots, the Grizzlies held more zone time in the first five minutes or so, out shooting Allen 17-13.

At 7:38 Josh Dickinson slung the puck past Jeremy Brodeur for his first with the Grizzlies, from Tim McGauley and Henke, who also picked up his first point with the team.

The Grizzlies came on strong after that, and Asuchak hauled Cole Ully down to send Utah back to the power play.

Asuchak and Doty seemed intent on stirring up trouble on the ensuing shift, but the refs kept them in line, and they contented themselves with throwing some big hits. At 12:10 Asuchak took a very weak two minutes for supposed interference against Josh Anderson, and Utah went off to the advantage.

McGauley capitalized in the dying seconds of the power play, scoring his seventh from Henke and Berry.

Austin Carroll struck just about a minute later scoring his sixth of the season from Marchment and Ryan Walters, and Zach Pochiro got thrown out for ten minutes for throwing equipment.

Walters took a tripping call at 17:49, but the Grizzlies killed it off, and the period came to an end.

The Grizzlies came out looking like the better team in the third, and there were plays against Walters and Ully that probably could have been calls. Carr continued to hold down the fort, and the Grizzlies’ defense once again did well, at least for a while.

Braylon Shmyr got a slashing call, followed by a holding call on Berry in the first ten minutes. Makowski got his second of the game at 12:19, cutting the lead in half. Walters took a tripping call at 16:49, Allen pulled Brodeur for the extra, extra attacker, and on the ensuing power play, Alex Breton made it 4-3.

However, Caleb Herbert scored his seventeenth goal of the year into the empty net, dangling around both Allen defenders to put the game out of reach. So Utah won 5-4, though out shot 39-35.

“Total team effort, that’s for sure.” Tim Branham said after the game, “When guys are out of the lineup other guys step up and we’re pretty deep. And now secondary scoring, all around a team effort that’s for sure. It’s really tough to sweep a team three in a row, so it was a good effort to get it done.”

When asked about his first goal with the Grizzlies, Josh Dickinson said, “It’s really nice. Getting the sweep is important, getting the first one out of the way was a lot of fun. It was definitely good to get it out of the way.”

After a number of games dominated by the first line, this game saw some secondary scoring, which didn’t surprise Dickinson. “We’ve got three lines that can go out in every situation so I think we have the confidence with each other to go out and play our best game.”

“We haven’t let in a goal in a little bit,” he added, “But that’s how it goes, there’s some good players on other teams, so we’re gonna let in some goals, and we’re gonna have a couple of mistakes on our end, but we found a way to win, came out with the sweep, so that’s the most important part.”

After a highly successful home stand that saw them improve to 12-2-3-0, which ties them with Tulsa atop the Western conference, the Grizzlies will finish November on the road against Rapid City.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff

 

Utah Grizzlies: Fuel on the Fire

Back home after taking three out of five games on the road, and picking up points in all but the game against the Indy Fuel, the Grizzlies returned home. Helmed by Teigan Zahn for the first time in front of the Maverik Center crowd, the team got Caleb Herbert back from a stint in the AHL. Kevin Carr got his fifth start as Utah looked to avenge their lone regulation loss.

The Grizzlies hopped up to a 3-1 shot advantage in the first four minutes, thanks in large part to a busy shift by Herbert, Ully, and Berry. On the other end of the ice, Carr made a couple of quick saves. Once past the initial couple of minutes, Indy put their foot down and spent a shift or two in the Grizzlies’ end before the Fuel pushed back. Carr made a couple of big saves, including a nice poke check as a Fuel player got position on the Utah defender and drove the net about seven minutes in.

Utah eventually evened out the shots, both teams getting seven by the mid-way point, though by the time there were seven minutes left, Carr had come up with some more big saves.

The Grizzlies drew the first power play of the night at 15:10 when Kevin Dufour took a slashing call. The Grizzlies’ lethal power play made short work of the advantage, Jake Marchment scoring his fifth of the year from Cole Ully and Herbert.

In the dying minutes of the period, Matt Berry took a slashing call, and Utah ended the period on a very strong kill, out-shooting Indy 17-13.

The Fuel scored in the last two seconds of the penalty kill to start the second, but it didn’t matter, because Tim McGauley made the most of a glorious muddle, putting the home team up 2-1 from Gage Ausmus and Brendan Harms.

Both teams had some serious pep in their step, but the Grizzlies had a step or two more, which resulted in McGauley striking at 7:41 assisted by Austin Carroll.

Turner Ottenbreit joined the fun less than two minutes later, getting his first goal of the year on an authoritative shot. Ully and Herbert got the assists.

After holding the Grizzlies in it in the first, Carr coughed up a puck behind the net, and Connor Moynihan got in on the spate of scoring to cut the lead in half at 11:33.

The game settled down slightly after that, the next notable event being Zach Miskovic tripping up Ully for the power play. Utah definitely went about the advantage with purpose, but the period and the power play came to an end almost simultaneously with no change in score. So, after a wild 20, Utah led 4-2, out-shooting Indy 32-19.

Indy drew within one with another early period goal from Darfour 56 seconds in. Herbert took a slashing call 2:24 into the third and McGauley flew in all alone short-handed. He was awarded a chance to finish the hat trick on a penalty shot, but unfortunately Matt Tomkins was up for the challenge.

Carr once again came up big in an absolutely wild scramble around the Utah net, and Zahn headed to the box for holding an Indy player’s stick at 4:56.

The Grizzlies killed it off, and set up a gorgeous tick-tack-toe bit of passing that put the puck on Ausmus’ stick. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to put the puck over Tomkins.

The Utah got a power play of their own at 8:05, but were unable to capitalize, and the parade to the sin bin continued as Berry went back to the box for high-sticking at 10:34. The Grizzlies killed well though, and by the time the game headed into the final five minutes, they’d racked up 40 shots to Indy’s 27.

With three minutes left in the period, the Fuel pulled Tomkins for an extra attacker, but were unable to muster a single shot.

When the final buzzer sounded, Utah had out-shot their opponent 43-27, and held on to the 4-3 lead, paying back their lone regulation loss of the season.

“We definitely knew coming into this game that they were the only team that had one on us, so we wanted to make sure that we brought our A game tonight and really came out explosive.” McGauley said. “I mean they hung in there for sure. You’ve got to give them credit, they’re a good hockey club over there, but we just stuck with it tonight, and fortunately for us, we got the right outcome.”

McGauley’s explosive two-goal performance got him the game’s first star, and he was one of three Grizzlies players to put up six shots. Ottenbreit’s first goal of the year nabbed him second star, and Herbert, one of the others with six shots, was named third star with two assists. Ully also got two assists, extending his point streak to eight games.

More or less the entire team played well, but there were a couple of other standouts. Carroll is also on an eight-game point streak (extended with an assist in this game), Walters was the third player with six shots, and Marchment has picked up seven points in six games.

When asked about what Marchment brings in his return to the team, Branham said, “His presence on draws, blocking shots on the penalty kill, the way he can control the puck along the wall in the offensive zone, a responsible player. It’s nice to get him back, and a great leader in the dressing room too, so all around a great person and definitely nice to solidify that spot down the middle.”

He also noted how nice it was to pick up a win against the team that handed them their only regulation loss so far before adding, “All around a great team effort tonight. I thought the penalty kill did a really great job. I know they scored a goal there with two seconds left, but I thought we did a pretty good job of killing them. Overall, very happy with it. Definitely a lot of offense, definitely a lot of speed, we can overwhelm teams with it, so that’s the game plan.”

Both McGauley and Branham noted that there are still some things to work on, the later saying, “I think we can work on our structure a little bit, but you know what, with the way that we’re creating offense, you kinda give them a little bit of leeway on that.”

Overall, though, Branham was pleased with the effort. “I thought that the D played a solid game, Carrsy made some big saves there at the end, that’s for sure. I thought it was a complete team effort. We came through when we needed to. That’s a good team over there, they’ve got a lot of offense too, so for us to shut them down like that in the end is good.”

Ully earned himself a call up to the Eagles on Thursday, so presumably the Grizzlies will be without him in the Friday and Saturday rematches. If the way the team has been scoring lately is any indication though, there’ll be no lack of goals this weekend.

 

 

Image courtesy of Action Sports Photography.

Utah Grizzlies: Winning in Wichita

After the 5-4 OT loss in Kansas City, the Grizzlies went with the same lineup in Wichita, only starting Joe Cannata instead of Kevin Carr. Teigan Zahn wore the captain’s C for the first time this season, while Ryan Walters and Taylor Richart retained their As.

The game did not get off to an auspicious start, with the Thunder snapping a puck past Cannata just 3:42 into the period.

It had looked like the Grizzlies had scored, just under half-way through the period, but the net came loose before the puck passed the line. However, the Utah did get a power play. Though they didn’t capitalize, by the end of the advantage they had out-shot Wichita 11-3.

The rest of the period was fast-paced, but though the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Thunder 13-4, after 20 they still trailed 1-0.

Utah got an early power play in the second, and the most lethal weapon on the league’s most lethal power play struck once more, Caleb Herbert making it 1-1 from Jake Marchment and Cole Ully.

The power play got another look five minutes in, but Austin Carroll took a tripping penalty at 6:39, sending the teams to a brief four-on-four before the Grizzlies killed off the penalty.

Utah got another crack at the advantage, but were unable to draw ahead, and unfortunately after Tim McGauley was denied on the breakaway, Hayden Hodgson gave the Thunder the 2-1 lead.

Matt Berry went to the box less than a minute later, but the period ended with no change in score, Utah out-shooting Wichita 29-16.

Carroll scored at 6:05 of the third, tipping in a bomb from Richart, but Ralph Cuddemi once again gave the Thunder the lead a minute later.

Berry and Jared Wilson took matching roughing calls half-way through the third, and then Zahn took a slashing call. Nothing changed, and no sooner had Zahn stepped out of the box, than he dropped the gloves with Matt Schmalz.

Cuddemi took a hooking call with three to go, and McGauley made Wichita pay, tying the game from Walters and De Jong.

The remainder of regulation time solved nothing, Utah out-shooting the Thunder 41-24. You would have been forgiven for feeling anxiety going into extra time, considering the Grizzlies struggles thus far, but you would have been wrong in this game. John McFarland took a tripping call against Richart, and the power play remained white hot, when Herbert got his second of the night, once more from Ully and Marchment.

Honestly, what is there left to say about Herbert? He’s a scoring machine, and his two goals and ten shots of the game got him first star honors. Richart (initially credited with the tying goal that eventually was awarded to Carroll) was named second star, and appears to be rounding into form, playing what was perhaps his most obviously strong game so far. Jake Marchment appears to be settling in nicely, picking up two assists, and it would appear that McGauley is heating up.

 


 

In a rare morning game, the same two teams squared off once more on Wednesday in Wichita, Utah going with the same roster. The Grizzlies had clearly had their coffee, picking up the first couple of shots. in the opening minutes of the frame.

However, Ryan Walters took a hooking call, and the Thunder went to the power play. The kill remained strong though, and didn’t allow a shot.

Then the game got crazy. To start it all off, Caleb Herbert scored his eleventh for Utah, from Cole Ully and Kevin Davis.

Matt Schmalz answered right back, then Steven Iacobellis scored again for the Thunder. The lead did not last, however, and Tim McGauley tied it up once more.

All that action in less than two minutes!

Greg Chase took a high-sticking minor at 11:18, then tried to goad Ully into joining him in the box, to no avail. Chase also got a roughing call, and Utah got a four minute power play.

The best power play in the league came up empty, and Ralph Cuddemi made them regret it as he sniped one on Joe Cannata to give the Thunder the lead. Pierre-Cedric Labrie took a late tripping call on McGauley, but the period and the advantage came to an end together. Despite out-shooting Wichita 17-9, the Grizzlies remained behind 3-2.

Utah drew a power play at 3:44, but the power play continued to struggle, getting only one shot, and spending some time defending in their own zone. Cannata was up to the challenge though, and the Thunder returned to full strength.

Ryan Misiak and Travis Barron caused some chaos around the Wichita net about half-way through the frame, but neither put the puck past Stuart Skinner.

The Thunder got going in the Utah zone, but Jake Marchment’s line took back possession, and Marchment tied it up on a nice pass from Ryan Walters. Nolan De Jong got the secondary assist.

Barron took a high-sticking penalty with 1:37 to go, but when the period came to an end, the score was still 3-3, shots 29-18 for the Grizzlies.

1:23 into the third, Ully’s speed drew a tripping call. However, the unusual power play struggles of this game continued.

Another furious spate of action saw first Travis Brown making it 4-3 through a screen, then just 22 seconds later, De Jong scored his first of the season from Davis and Ryan Misiak, giving them both their second assists.

Ully took a cross-checking minor at 6:11, but on the next face-off, Iacobellis took a call, and the teams played four-on-four for 1:55.

Around the eight minute mark, the Grizzlies got some good offensive zone pressure, picking up four straight shots, unfortunately, the Captains tangled in front of the Utah net, and Teigan Zahn got an interference call for putting Dyson Stevenson into the net.

With just 1:55 to go, Marchment got his second of the game, and that’s how it ended.

Utah out-shot Wichita (known for giving up a lot of shots) 40-23, and picked up their second win against the Thunder.

Unlike in Sunday’s game, the power play really struggled, going 0/6, an giving up a couple of good looks to the penalty killers. However, it gave the Grizzlies an opportunity to get it done at even strength, which they certainly did. It was also great to see the secondary scoring come alive, as every line contributed at least one goal, and multiple players not named Caleb Herbert had multi-point games.

Misiak had one of his best games of the year, picking up two assists, and third star honors, Marchment, of course, had the two goals, including the game winner, which got him first star, while De Jong had a goal and an assist, Walters had two assists, as did Kevin Davis.

Then, of course, there is Herbert, who just hasn’t cooled down. He now has 18 points in ten games, and has only been held off the scoreboard once, in Utah’s lone regulation loss this season. He leads the league now in both goals (11) and points.

Whatever struggles the Grizzlies have had in keeping the puck out of their own net have been more then compensated for by their offense.

Utah plays Wichita once more on Friday before returning home.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.

 

Utah Grizzlies: Picking Up Points

After Friday night’s win, the lineup remained more or less the same, the only change being Joe Cannata in for Kevin Carr.

Utah got off to a brisk start, and then the game settled down into a pretty steady back and forth affair between the two teams. The Grizzlies picked up three of the first four shots as the refs kept their whistles firmly in their pockets.

Travis Barron had a glorious chance at about the half-way mark practically in the blue paint, but just missed putting the puck in under the top bar.

Utah allowed zone time, but they didn’t allow many shots at all, out-shooting Idaho 5-1 through the first fourteen minutes.

The period was fairly uneventful overall, shots ending 6-2 for the Grizzlies, who did a good job keeping Idaho to the perimeter or getting in the way of shots in their own zone.

Excellent defense fell apart a bit to start the second, and the game got pretty eventful in a hurry, as Cole Ully took the first penalty of the game, Joe Pendenza scored, and then the Ully drew a penalty, and Pendenza went to the box, all in the first three minutes.

The Steelheads made up the shot difference through out the second, as Utah allowed a few odd-man rushes, but they did eventually begin to push back, thanks to one of those increasingly familiar rushes led by Caleb Herbert and Austin Carroll.

With about twelve minutes to go, both the Steelheads and the Grizzlies kept Cannata and Philippe Desrosiers busy, and then Ully drew yet another power play.

The league’s best power play went to work then, cycling and getting a couple of looks before Tim McGauley scored as he fell, pouncing on Matt Berry’s rebound to tie it up.

Utah came alive at that point,  peppering Desrosiers on the shifts that followed, and Herbert drew another penalty with just under six minutes in the period. However, they were unable to capitalize, and Cannata had to make a couple of big saves.

A little of the usual animosity bubbled over with 2:14 to go in the second, and a crowd gathered around Desrosiers, but nothing came of it.

The Steelheads took the 2-1 lead six minutes into the third, but Herbert returned the favor to tie it up just over a minute later. His seventh of the year went into a wide open net from Ully and Carroll.

Through the remainder of the game, Utah put up eleven shots to Idaho’s four, but despite a penalty to Herbert at 15:53, neither team was able to pull ahead. So, for the second time of the season, the Grizzlies and Steelheads went to overtime.

Idaho played a far more aggressive game three-on-three, and it paid off for them, Brad McClure scoring the game winner at 2:29.

It was a disappointing outcome, but the Grizlies are still an impressive 4-0-2 this year, picking up points in every contest thus far.

Herbert’s seventh goal of the season earned him the second star, while Tim McGauley nabbed third with his second goal.

When asked to talk again about Herbert, Tim Branham said, “He’s a special player. Colorado knew he was, that’s why they wanted to get him under contract, he’s proven why he’s had so much success in this league. He’s got good line-mates too, and I’m sure they all like playing together. Every game that line has been extremely dangerous, and for good reason. They work hard, they’ve got a lot of talent, and they want it really bad.”

In addition to the Ully-Herbert-Carroll line, Matt Berry was noticeable as well, especially in the early going, picking up four shots through the game

Overall, Branham was pleased with his team’s efforts in the season thus far. “I thought we had another good start. I mean, that’s a good team over there. They’re down that they’ve had to play us four times in a row. We’re a tough team. They’re a good team too, so some bad things are bound to happen when you play a good team four times in a row. I thought we played a good game. Come the second period we started getting three forwards caught low in the offensive zone, they had a few odd-man rushes, our D didn’t move the puck quick enough to our forwards, but it’s gonna happen. We’ve got a young D core, we’ve played a really good team four times in a row.I’m proud of the boys. I thought they played really well. ”

He also shared the mindset the team has adopted We’re splitting the season into six game segments, and we got ten out of a possible twelve points in our first six game segment. We still have a zero in the loss column, and we’re happy with the way things are going. Now we go out on the road and play some different teams.”

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff