Utah Grizzlies: Do Not Go Gentle

Travis Howe has always been better at hockey than he’s generally been given credit for. He’s rarely a liability defensively, and he routinely makes good plays in addition, of course, to being a hard hitting, hard fighting enforcer. All he’s seemed to lack was some offensive finish. That has very much not been the case lately.

The roster was the same as on Friday, though the lines got a shuffle. Mitch Maxwell slotted in with Michael Pelech and Brendan Harms in the starting lineup, while Sam Babintsev centered Kyle Thomas and Ryan Misiak. Jake Marchment centered Howe and Ryan Walters, while Charley Graaskamp became the tenth forward. Taylor Richart and Mitch Jones opened the game on the back end, and Brandon Wildung got the start.

The first period did not get off to an auspicious start. Off the opening face-off the Steelheads had a couple of looks, and Howe got sent off for interference. 44 seconds later, Max French, fresh from his stint in the AHL, opened the scoring.

But the Grizzlies responded, picking up the shot lead on a couple of successive offensive zone shifts. At 8:40, former unlikely hero turned likely hero of late, Howe took a pass from Marchment, and backhanded it past Tomas Sholl to tie up the game. Howe is always quick to pass on any complements to his line mates, but he’s showed some serious finish lately, picking up some serious goal scorers goals in the past couple of games.

Utah ran into some penalty trouble after that, first Thomas taking a cross-checking call at 9:40. The Grizzlies killed it off, but Marchment took an interference call at 14:29, putting Idaho on their third straight power play. Misiak’s stick got caught in an Idaho players stick, and Utah got away with one, as the reffing continued to be spotty.

Pelech, Walters, Richart, and Rob Mann got a good shift short-handed in the offensive zone. Pelech started a scrum in front of the net, and Idaho responded. Somehow, Pelech was the only one to go to the box, but the Grizzlies killed off the six seconds of five-on-three.

Utah killed it off thanks to a combination of good saves, decent defense, and a couple of misplays by Idaho.

Despite getting eight minutes of power play time, it took Idaho until the last minute to tie the shot clock at nine, and after 20 the game was tied 1-1, shots the same.

Utah got all six shots in the opening four, largely controlling play. Pelech drew a power play and a scrum eight minutes into the period. They weren’t able to make anything of it, but finished the advantage with all seven shots so far.

The Grizzlies kept the cycle going, and at 10:26, Howe got his second goal of the night reaching out to poke the puck past Sholl. Windle and Graaskamp got the assists on Howe’s fifth of the year.

Pelech drew another power play at 12:02 when Corbin Baldwin went after him, and he didn’t oblige. Utah wasn’t able to capitalize yet again, but at the end of the advantage, out-shooting the Steelheads 11-2.

Unfortunately, Melindy took a puck to the face with just over five minutes to go, and Idaho tied it up again. Melindy went to the locker room, and at the end of 40, the game was still tied, the Grizzlies out-shooting the Steelheads 14-5 on the frame, and 23-14 overall.

Two games after he was a fight away from a Gordie Howe hat trick, Travis had his sights set on an entirely different kind of hat trick going into the third.

The Grizzlies had some good shifts to start the final frame, including one from Windle, and one from Howe and company.

Howe blocked a shot and limped off, and a couple of shifts later Graaskamp took and gave a high-stick within a few seconds. However, only the one on Graaskamp was called, and he headed off to the box.

A couple of shifts later, Melindy and French tangled in front of Wildung, and were both sent off for roughing.

Both penalties were killed off, but Windle took a slashing call. At 13:44 Ully scored his second, but there was lots of traffic in front of Wildung, and contact was definitely made, but the goal was allowed to stand.

After a fairly inconsistently called game, the refs totally lost control at that point, Jones and Steven McParland both got double roughs and misconducts, while Thomas and Chris Martinet got five and misconducts after Thomas emphatically won the fight, despite giving up seven inches and more than twenty pounds.

Idaho immediately took another penalty, but the Grizzlies weren’t able to capitalize. Jefferson Dahl flew in all alone, but rang the post, and then Wildung made another save.

Utah pulled Wildung for the extra attacker, both teams took their time-outs, and Idaho scored into the empty net, effectively killing the Grizzlies’ post season hopes.

As utterly infuriating as the game was, Utah put up a good fight–as they’ve done all season. And though for the first time in a decade there will be no playoff hockey at the Mav, the Grizzlies, led by their enforcer, turned goal-scoring hero, went down swinging.

 

Picture courtesy of Tim Broussard

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.

Utah Grizzlies: The Elusive Complete 60

On Wednesday night, in their first games against their former teams, Ryan Olsen, Cliff Watson, Gage Ausmus, and Jake Marchment were all in their teams’ starting lineups. In Utah’s net, new goalie Brandon Wildung got his first pro start.

The Grizzlies got off to a good start, Ryan Walters flying in largely uncontested, until Matt Register lifted his stick at the last moment.

Utah took the first penalty of the night, a cross-checking call on Chris Leibinger, but the Grizzlies killed it off, and Walters rang the cross-bar short-handed on a glorious pass from Brendan Harms.

In hi early tests, Wildung looked good, poised and calm, On a hard working shift in front of the net from Jake Marchment, Travis Howe, and Walters, Howe banged the puck in past Lukas Hafner to open the scoring.

Then things got interesting. On the very next shift, Brad Navin flew in with a head of steam, and was tripped up, sending Utah to the delayed power play and then the power play. On the first shift of the power play proper, Taylor Richart came wheeling around the Eagles net, and was leveled. It looked scary, fortunately in the end, he skated off under his own steam, though he did not return.

The power play unit got working after that, and though they didn’t score, Navin briefly hobbled Teigan Zahn, and the Grizzlies took over the shot lead.

Unfortunately, at 13:48 Watson beat Wildung with the assist from Olsen to tie it up. Leibinger took a hooking call on the next shift. Once again, the Utah penalty kill was strong, and Leibinger sprinted out of the box, and made a sweet pass to Harms, who shot just wide.

The Grizzlies drew yet another power play at 2:08 as Kyle Thomas kept his feet moving. The best chance on the advantage went to Thomas and Michael Pelech about half way through the power play, and at the end of twenty, Utah and Colorado remained tied 1-1, shots 8-7 for the Eagles.

The Grizzlies opened the second decently, Leibinger displaying a beautiful bit of puck handling to keep the play in the offensive zone, but after that, the Eagles pressured.

Utah eventually got themselves back in order, getting a couple of near things as first Mitch Jones’ shot bounced in on Hafner oddly, and then rolled through the blue paint moments later.

Half way through the period, Sam Babintsev broke the deadlock, scoring his third of the season from Thomas.

With under two minutes to go, Graaskamp made a really nice pass to Navin, Navin wired it just wide, and Melindy drew a power play with 1:55 yo go.

Olsen motored in one-on-one short-handed, but his shot was turned aside. The puck bounced wildly in front of Hafner, but the period came to an end, still 2-1 Utah, shots 13-13.

The Eagles got the first four shots of the period, but Wildung made some really great saves to hold on to the lead.

The Grizzlies got possession at about the six minute mark, but mostly cycled it until Jones wired one on net. Halfner was there to meet it however, and somehow Brendan Harms ended up with a high-sticking penalty at 6:51.

The Grizzlies’ kill continued to be excellent, Wildung making some more good saves, and Walters missing on a short-handed break away.

Just after the Grizzlies returned to full-strength, Pelech swatted the puck on net, beating Hafner five-hole to put the Grizzlies up 3-1 at 9:01.

The Eagles pressured after the goal, as one would expect, and Wildung turned aside a big shot one-on one.

Unfortunately, the wheels came off a bit, as Matt Garbowski scored at 14:55 when the coverage around the Utah net faltered, and on the very next shift, Olsen put one past Wildung to tie it up.

In the final minute, Harms threw the puck on net through traffic, but the game once more went to OT.

Harms had a really good looking OT shift, but shortly afterwards Watson flew in uncontested, was turned aside, then regaining the puck after Utah flubbed the play, beat Wildung and the Grizzlies’ defenders to win the game.

It was a familiar outcome; play a strong game against a strong opponent, lose focus at a few crucial moments, and pay for it with an overtime loss.

 

“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Tim Branham said after the game. “I mean there were times where Colorado had control. We talked to the boys before the game about playing a full sixty minutes, same thing with the game in Worcester, we had complete control of the game in Worcester for fifty minutes, and then in the last ten we didn’t. Same here tonight. Fifty-five minutes we had control and then the last five we kind of let slip. There’s a couple of guys who made some huge mistakes, it is what it is, that’s a learning experience, and at this point in the season, it should be pretty clear your roles and responsibilities.

“They have players on their team that make big plays, we have guys that are learning, and they’re young. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way it went. At this point in the season, we needed two points, definitely, from a game like that. That one stings a little bit.”

Marchment’s thoughts were in a similar vein:

“We just gotta find ways to win. We’re finding ways to lose games right now, we’ve got leads going into third periods, or we’re tied, we’ve lost three of our last five in over time now, so just finding ways to get that extra point, work a little harder, bear down a little more on our scoring chances, but we still have a little bit of time here, we just gotta start getting some wins, and do what we can on our part. Hopefully other teams lose, and we can maybe sneak in.”

Wildung was definitely one of the players who did do his part. “I thought he played well, I thought for coming in his first pro game,” Branham said, “He definitely got some good experience, and did a good job.”

“It’s just a great opportunity for me,” Brandon said, “Playing professional hockey has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember it’s what I’ve wanted to do, so for this organization to give me a chance it means a lot to me.”

Wildung, whose freshman year overlapped with Misiak’s senior in the 2013-14 season at Mercyhurst, has appreciated already knowing someone in the organization.

“It’s awesome, it’s great to come to a new organization and see a familiar face,” he said. “I mean the guys have all been great, but when you come in and you know a guy it makes it…kind of gives a little bit of a breather.”

While a familiar face may give Wildung a breather from all the newness of location, level, team and the like, a breather is exactly what the Grizzlies do not have. They face Colorado twice more (Friday and Saturday) before heading out to Idaho next weekend. After that, they play Colorado once more, and then finish off the season at home against Kansas City. They are still chasing Allen and Tulsa who are both four points ahead with a game in hand.

The task is by no means impossible, last year’s Grizzlies were in almost exactly the same boat, but they’re going to have to play a complete 60 minutes every game to do it.

 

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

Utah Grizzlies: The Unexpected

Two top notch goalies gave up 4+ goals each, a goal scorer dropped the gloves twice in one period, and an enforcer turned play-maker with a pair of glorious assists as the Grizzlies took on the Monarchs.

The new look BAM line (Brad Navin, Kyle Thomas, Michael Pelech) got of to a flying start as the Grizzlies picked up three of the first four shots in the opening four. Unfortunately, when Manchester had a strong shift in the offensive zone, Joel Rumpel was forced far to the right of the goal mouth to cover a shot. The cross crease pass was put into a wide open net, as the Grizzlies were unable to box out Michael Doherty.

Utah picked themselves up after the goal, as the Pelech line had a good offensive zone shift, followed by Brendan and the Ryans. At 8:28, a seemingly harmless shot from Ryan Misiak bounced off Charles Williams’ glove, and into the net to tie it up.

The Grizzlies took the first penalty at 9:55 on a hooking call against Sam Babintsev. The penalty kill worked hard in their own zone, and went to the four-on-four as Taylor Richart was boarded at 10:48. The shenanigans didn’t end there, as Pelech and Matt Leitner dropped the gloves with 8:08 left. It wasn’t a whole lot of a fight, and it was broken up quite quickly, both sent off for five.

In the brief power play that followed, the Grizzlies doubled up their shot count, 10-5, and continued to look good, collecting a really nice shot from Brendan Harms off a face-off, and Misiak almost snagging his second of the frame on the rebound. On the very next face-off, Walters also got a good look on Williams.

The third line had a hardworking offensive zone shift with just over four minutes to go, and boy did it ever pay off. Travis Howe made a really nice pass to Mitch Maxwell, and Maxwell put it emphatically past Williams to give the Grizzlies the 2-1 lead.

Pelech laid a huge hit at about 18:50, which wasn’t penalized, but Keegan Iverson took exception, and Pelech dropped the gloves for the second time in the game, and fourth time this season.

The Grizzlies ended the period in the offensive zone, after (with the exception of the one very bad shift) a strong road period, out-shooting Manchester 14-9 with the 2-1 lead.

The Monarchs pressured to start the second, but took a holding the stick call at 1:06 in the offensive zone, sending Utah to the advantage. The Grizzlies got a couple of looks from Thomas, and at least one good one from Marchment, and they continued to press after the penalty.

However, the play went the other way, Ryan Walters took a hooking call, and just seven seconds after he went to the box, Manchester tied it up.

At 8:12, Walters drew a tripping call after another stretch of Grizzlies offensive zone time (and another shift from Howe). This time, Utah got some of their own back, as Harms pounded the puck past Williams from Taylor Richart just six seconds in.

Walters continued to miss by inches, getting in on a mini breakaway for at least his fourth look of the night. Chris Leibinger took a slashing call with 5:45 to go. Utah failed to make the final clear of the kill, and once again, the Monarchs tied it up.

With about a minute left, the puck bounced over Navin’s stick on one end of the ice, and at the other, Rumpel made a big save, and the two teams got into a brief shoving match.

At the end of the second, the teams were once again tied 3-3, but Manchester had the 22-19 lead on the shot clock.

Navin started the third flying, first off the opening face off, and then into the wall, giving the Grizzlies the first shot of the frame.

The third line once again created some buzz, backed by the skill of Richart, but on the next shift, Rob Mann turned the puck over, then in the ensuing defensive zone shift, took a hooking call.

Fortunately, Utah killed it off, and at 5:29, Melindy and Jake Wood dropped the gloves.

The third line’s strong showing continued, as Howe and Marchment got in two-on-one. Howe looked like he was going to shoot all the way, but at the last moment, he passed it off. Williams was helpless to stop the shot that Marchment put in over him.

Unfortunately, Manchester once again tied it up at 8:06, and despite Rumpel immediately being up in arms calling interference, and a very, very brief consultation, the goal counted.

Melindy took a delay-of-game penalty at 11:45, but Utah killed it off, and just over two minutes to go, the Grizzlies drew a power play. The first and second units both had some good looks, but weren’t able to beat Williams, and the advantage expired just moments before the third came to an end.

Once again, the Grizzlies went to OT, but 1:45 in, the Monarchs scored to get the extra point.

Harms (one goal, one assist), Howe and Babintsev (two assists each) all had multiple points, Howe’s the first of his career. Although Navin’s eleven game point streak came to an end tonight, he remains over a point a game, having put up 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 23 games since January 20th. Meanwhile, Misiak now has 14 points in the last 14 games, while Harms is on a point streak of his own, with five in the last four straight.

The two teams face off again at 4 PM today (Saturday) before they head to Worcester to face the Railers on Sunday.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff.