Utah Grizzlies: Hard Fought

After last night’s game, the Grizzlies looked to rebound without Jon Puskar. Troy Redmann drew in for his first start in seven games, while Garrett Haar made his home debut for the team.

Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 shot lead in the first four or so minutes of the period, but Redmann looked exceptionally sharp, and the Grizzlies managed to stay out of trouble.

Martin Nemcik took a high-sticking, and the penalty kill was very short lived as Cam Maclise opened the scoring to put Colorado up 1-0 at 5:27.

The Grizzlies came back with a vengeance though, and Austen Brassard had a monster shift that he capped off with an assist. Michael Pelech got the goal, and Phil Pietroniro drew the secondary assist.

The Eagles got some chances of their own afterwards, but Redmann shut the door with a couple of very nice saves.

Travis Howe came in like a wrecking ball shortly thereafter, leveling Darryl Bootland and Sean Zimmerman on one shift, to the great delight of the 6,222 fans in attendance.

Utah drew a power play of their own at 15:03, and though they only got one shot, they played well, holding the zone for the majority of the man advantage.

At the end of 20, Colorado held an 18-5 shot advantage, but the game was tied at one a piece. Predictably, a crowd gathered as the teams separated at the buzzer, and Howe had to be restrained from further taunting of the Eagles’ bench.

The second period began on the remainder of the Grizzlies’ power play, which went about as well as their power plays have gone against Colorado, and Redmann made a stellar shorthanded save. He followed that up with another spectacular save on a Jackson Houck breakaway, but Colorado made it 2-1 shortly thereafter on a rebound.

Things got pretty scrappy after that, as Colin Martin took an elbowing call, and on the same whistle, Zimmerman and Martin Nemcik both got five for fighting. Nemcik won emphatically, and Zimmerman got an extra two for instigation. Nemcik may not have started the fight, but boy did he ever finish it. The Grizzlies were buzzing after that, and when any shots got through, Redmann was well up to the task.

At 13:10 Haar drew an interference call, and the Grizzlies went to the power play. Colorado got yet another short-handed chance, and this time Teigan Zahn buried the puck to put the Eagles up 3-1.

Despite that, Redmann continued to play well, charging out to break up a 1-on-0, and then following that up with another save for good measure.

The Grizzlies took off after that, thanks in part to a phenomenal shift from Howe, and after 40, though still trailing 3-1, the feeling in the crowd was far more positive than it had been the night before.

Utah controlled the play early, skating hard, and getting a glorious chance when a trailing Verpaelst hammered the puck just wide of the net. Haar also had what was perhaps his best look of the night on a big shot from the point.

With 8:27 to go Zahn and Brassard got tied up in a furious shoving match in front of the Eagles’ net, and when the whistle blew, they dropped the gloves. Both got five for fighting, and the crowd was elated.

Unfortunately, despite a valiant effort from the Grizzlies in the final minutes, Colorado scored into the empty net after a lengthy stretch of Utah possession.

“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Head Coach Tim Branham said, when asked about the team’s performance. “We certainly had enough shots to put more than one goal by them, but we couldn’t do that once again tonight. At the end of the day, they worked just a little bit harder than us. We had a good work ethic, for us. Colorado forwards, they work even harder. If you want to have success against them, you need to outwork their forwards, because their forwards are the hardest workers with and without the puck. They shut a lot of things down through the neutral zone. That’s the key to their success, and you’ve got to make sure that you can slow them down, but also transition fast before they can get back. We had a lot of chances, we just can’t put the puck in.”

When asked about the team’s struggles to get shots on net in first periods against the Eagles lately, he answered, “I think it’s just everyone needing to bear down and be ready to play. I thought, still, we had some good opportunities, we just didn’t get shots on them, whether they missed the net, or whatever, we still had some good opportunities. But Colorado had 18 shots. I thought Troy was really good in that first period. He actually did a good job controlling rebounds and killing plays, looked real poised in that first period. He did a good job.”

Utah wore beautiful specialty jerseys for Military Appreciation night, which were auctioned off after the game. C.J. Eick’s jersey went for a sale topping $3,125, and the Grizzlies raised over $22,000 for the Salt Lake City Fisher House!


The Grizzlies get one more crack at the Eagles at home on Monday night, before heading out to Colorado for two games, and they’ll need to rediscover their scoring touch if they’re to have any chance at running down the Aces for the final playoff spot.


Image courtesy of Josie Vimahi/Utah Grizzlies

Utah Grizzlies: Goat Rodeo

After playing two pretty good games, but only coming up with one point to show for it, Utah looked to keep the goals coming, and do a better job of keeping the puck of out of their own net. Troy Redmann got the start for Utah, while Kenton Helgesen drew back into the lineup.

Things did not exactly go as planned.

Luke Salazar scored just 50 seconds into the first. Although the Grizzlies had a few good chances, Colorado outshot them through the first half of the period 8-2. Michael Sdao and Martin Nemcik were both sent to the box with 9:17 to go, Nemcik getting two, and Sdao getting four, which gave Utah the first power play of the game.

The man-advantage continued to look shaky for the Grizzlies, and with 7:48 to go, Erik Higby took Teigan Zahn into the boards behind the Eagles’ net. Sean Zimmerman took exception to it, and both Higby and Zimmerman went to the box for roughing.

Unfortunately, Travis Howe took a delay of game penalty shortly after they returned to full strength, and just moments after that, Nemcik went to the box for slashing, putting Utah on the wrong side of a 5-on-3 for 1:52. Colorado scored just over 30 seconds into the power play, and the Grizzlies found themselves down 2-0.

Helgesen drew a power play as he was hit and then slashed by Darryl Bootland, but the Grizzlies found themselves fighting off a 2-on-1 shorthanded. Fortunately, Redmann made the save, and Zac Larraza got a bit chance in the dying seconds of the power play, but that was all.

At the end of 20, Utah found themselves down 2-0, outshot 12-5.

Just 17 seconds into the second, the Grizzlies drew a power play as they continued to do a good job of not retaliating. Unfortunately, just as they began to get going, Austen Brassard took a tripping penalty.

The momentum changed a bit after that, as the Grizzlies kept their cool, and didn’t retaliate as Colorado pulled down Brassard. When the dust cleared, there were three Eagles in the box, and on the ensuing power play, Colorado took yet another penalty. The Grizzlies kept possession well, but were unable to get the puck through the Colorado defence. They got yet another crack at the 5-on-3, as the Eagles continued to pick up penalties.

Colin Martin cut the deficit in half at 8:55, scoring his fifteenth of the year from Marc-André Lévesque, who picked up his third point in three games. Colorado established some pressure after they returned to full strength after 5:32 on the penalty kill.

Colorado went up 3-1 with 4:48, restoring their two goal lead, and then things got a little crazy. Jon Puskar bumped an Eagles player by the bench, and absolute mayhem ensued. Zahn tried to goad Lévesque into a fight, Howe threw some punches from the bench, and there was a general pile up. Howe got a double minor for roughing, and a ten minute misconduct, while Nemcik got five for fighting, and Puskar got two for boarding. Bootland also got two for roughing and five for fighting.

The first half of the penalty kill for Utah went quite well, but Alex Belzile scored with 1:24 left in the period, and the Grizzlies found the game slipping further out of their reach.

After 4o, the Grizzlies trailed 4-1, and had been outshot to the tune of 20-16. It would take a huge third period to pull off the comeback, but it wasn’t entirely out of the question – especially considering that Ralph Cuddemi once scored two goals in thirty seconds.

The opening four minutes or so of the third saw a number of strong shifts from Utah, but then things went a bit further south. Pelech took an elbowing penalty at 4:24, but the Grizzlies killed it off, forcing Saunders to rob first Cuddemi and then Larraza on short-handed breakaways. However, no sooner had the Eagles returned to full strength than they made it 5-1, capitalizing on a defencive scramble that ensued after Helgesen took a puck to the face.

Any dying thoughts of a comeback were thoroughly squashed just under three minutes later when Jackson Houck’s shot trickled agonizingly through Redmann and into the net. Moments later, an alert play by Pelech kept the puck from crossing the line as another shot rolled through the blue paint, but shortly thereafter Colorado got the seventh goal anyway.

It was a miserable end to what had otherwise been a well played – if highly frustrating – road trip.  It didn’t seem so much that there was a lack of will to win, as that when they went to kick the comeback into gear, the engine sputtered on an empty tank instead of coming to life as it had previously.

Standings wise, fortunately for Utah, both Alaska and Missouri lost as well, so the Grizzlies remain four points behind the former, and one behind the latter. Certainly well within striking distance, provided that they rest and regroup, and are able to pick up some vital wins against tough competition in the coming weeks.

The Grizzlies are back home Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday against the Alaska Aces in what could be some of the most important games of the season.

Utah Grizzlies: Weekend Winnings

This weekend, the Grizzlies continued to pick up very much needed points, as they completed the three game sweep of the Steelheads in Boise. The games on Friday and Saturday were both very close contests, each decided by one goal, Saturday’s in overtime.

Friday night’s game was a high-scoring, penalty-filled affair that saw both sides dissatisfied with the calls – or in some cases, the lack of calls – throughout. Troy Redmann got the start, backed by Ryan Faragher, and had a very strong outing overall, while C.J. Eick had the night off in favour of a full complement of defencemen.

Erik Bradford opened the scoring 6:17 into the first, as the Grizzlies crashed the net and the assists went to Tim Daly and Cam Reid, the later of whom picked up his first of what would eventually be three assists.

The rest of the period was more or less a wash, thanks to the ten penalties that were assessed in total, an uncharacteristic three of them on Daly., The teams went to their dressing-rooms with Idaho out-shooting Utah by the slim margin of 9-8.

Bradford scored his second of the game less than five minutes into the second to put the Grizzlies up 2-0, and mere moments later, Phil Pietroniro dropped the gloves with Anthony Luciani. The bout was a spirited one, and both combatants got in several really excellent punches before they were separated and sent to the box. The fight was Pietroniro’s fifth of the season, and third in the last six games.

At 7:13, Daly erased any memory of the three penalty first period with an absolutely gorgeous rocket from the high slot, giving Utah the 3-0 lead. The Grizzlies ran into some penalty trouble in the second half of the period, allowing two power play goals, despite a couple of unbelievable saves from Redmann. However, they responded well both times, and closed out the period still leading 3-2.

The third period did not get off to the most auspicious of starts, despite an Idaho penalty, as Kyle Jean got behind the Grizzlies defence, and tied it up on a short-handed breakaway just under 4:30 into the frame.

However, the game did not stay tied for long, as Colin Martin tipped in Pietroniro’s shot from the blue line. It was not a lead Utah was destined to hold for long, with Corbin Baldwin beating Redmann a few minutes later.

The two teams traded chances and penalties through the later part of the period, with Martin Nemcik and Jefferson Dahl going off for roughing at 16:08.

With just over five minutes to go, the Grizzlies got the upper hand once more, as Kenton Helgesen scored his third of the season with assists from Taylor Richart and Jon Puskar. The Steelheads were irate, feeling that the officials missed a tripping call in the play immediately proceeding the goal, but they argued their case to no avail.

Austen Brassard and Brandon Anselmini took matching roughing calls with two minutes to go, and Utah held on to win 5-4.

Bradford’s two goals earned him third star of the game, extending his point streak to eight games, while Redmann stopped 31 out of 35 shots.

Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, Daly was hit hard along the boards part way through the third period, and played little, if at all after that point, while Idaho ran into troubles of their own when coach Neil Graham, and defenceman Travis Walsh were both given game misconducts at the end of the game. As a result, Walsh was fined, and Graham was suspended for a game, while Daly did not start on Saturday.


On Saturday, Kevin Boyle returned to the Grizzlies’ lineup after a lengthy – and largely successful – stint in San Diego, getting the start for Utah. C.J. Eick also suited up for the Grizzlies, as Daly’s absence freed up a spot. Consequently, Utah played eleven forwards and five defencemen, while Faragher backed up Boyle.

The first period was fairly uneventful, though by no means boring, both teams playing well, and fairly evenly. Boyle looked strong early, and Utah had the slight edge in special teams. Travis Howe and Jefferson Dahl went off with matching minors at 7:39, and about thirty seconds later, Brandon Anselmini went off after tripping up Cam Reid. After 20, shots were 12-11 for Idaho, and there was no change in score.

The second period saw a great deal more action, much of it not at all in the Grizzlies’ favour. Michael Pelech took a penalty 3:40 into the frame, and no sooner had Utah killed off that minor, then Erik Bradford also found himself in the box. Boyle made some terrific saves, but it was Idaho that scored first just past the half-way mark.

Utah came back strong, drawing a power play of their own a minute later, but nothing came of it. Shortly thereafter, Howe and Baldwin were sent off, and Travis Ewanyk made it 2-0 with under five minutes to go.

Things continued to go badly for the Grizzlies as Phil Pietroniro was shoved into the boards by Connor Chatham. He was sent to the locker room for repairs, while the ice crew cleaned up the blood, and the officials assessed Chatham five minutes for boarding and a game misconduct. Utah closed off the period on the man advantage, but after 40, they remained down 2-0, outshot  24-23, and missing a defenceman.

Unlike so many early period power plays, the remainder of the Grizzlies’ five minute power play proved lethal. Bradford extended his point streak to nine games, when Cuddemi took his feed from behind the Steelheads’ net and made it 1-o a mere 45 seconds in.

Pietroniro returned to the bench a few minutes later, and took the best kind of revenge, scoring the second goal on the Chatham penalty at 2:01 to tie the game.

Austen Brassard took the only other penalty of the third period at 5:26. Nothing came of it, nor of the nastiness that had been developing all game between Martin Nemcik and various Idaho players. Nor, unfortunately, did anything come of Eick’s glorious up-ice rush that saw him make two Steelheads appear as though they were standing still.

60 minutes was not enough to decide the contest, so the game went to over time. Utah dominated the extra frame, putting up five shots to Idaho’s zero, and Cuddemi gave the Grizzlies the win 1:13 into the extra frame.

In the absence of Daly, both Pietroniro and Richart stepped up in a big way, and were the two defencemen Branham relied upon in OT. Each picked up their third point in as many games, ensuring that Utah did not suffer from the loss of Daly’s production or defencive prowess.

Boyle, who had some struggles earlier in the year, looked very sharp, making 31 of 33 saves, as all three Grizzlies goalies picked up a win in Boise.

Cuddemi continues to display the prolific scoring touch that saw him named rookie of the month, picking up goals 21 and 22 to remain the leader in rookie goal-scoring. His two goal performance earned him third star of the contest. Bradford remains the Grizzlies’ leading scorer with 41 points in 33 games for Utah and 43 points in 38 games overall.

In taking all six points against Idaho, Utah is now only four points back of Alaska (though the Aces still have two games in hand), and five behind Idaho as the quest for a playoff spot continues. Moreover, their seven game win streak is currently the longest active winning streak in the league.

The Grizzlies very much need to keep the goals and wins coming as they travel to Alaska to play three straight against the team directly in front of them in the standings.

Utah Grizzlies: Close, but no Cigar

Another night, another start against Rapid City. The lineup remained the same, and the Grizzlies got off to a much better start than on Wednesday night, controlling play through much of the first half of the period.

However, Rapid City scored first off a bad turnover at 8:40 to go up 1-0.

With 2:57 left in the period, Troy Redmann went down after several spectacular saves on the penalty kill. Fortunately for Utah, Redmann appeared to be alright, and the Grizzlies drew a power play as Mathieu Aubin got highsticked at 17:45.

The Grizzlies had some really good chances on the power play, but Marek Langhamer shut the door.

After 20, the Grizzlies had — for long stretches of the period, dominated in possession and zone time, and led in shots 13-9. Nevertheless, Rapid City still held the edge where it mattered.

Utah controlled the puck through the opening few minutes of the play in the second, pouncing on several Rush turnovers.

At 5:30, the third line crashed the Rapid City net, and Colin Martin beat Langhamer with assists to Puskar and Richart.

And then the game became a bit of a goat rodeo.

Rapid City got a power play at 7:11, and though Redmann made some huge saves, and Tim Daly went down blocking a shot, the Rush scored to make it 2-1. The Grizzlies got a power play of their own very shortly thereafter, but it was Mark Cooper who scored short handed.

With 8:26 left to play, Phil Pietroniro and Nicholas Miglio dropped the gloves, and Ralph Cuddemi scored a few minutes later to make it 3-2

Rapid City thought they scored after a wild sequence, further into the period, but it turned out that the puck had hit the crossbar, and the Grizzlies cleared the crease. Then a Rush player got back all alone on the breakaway, and Redmann absolutely robbed him, allowing the Grizzlies to escape the period down just 3-2.

The two teams exchanged penalties in the first ten minutes of the third, but both sides had trouble making passes, and it felt like not a whole lot happened, despite both teams trading chances. Things continued in this state for nearly all of the third period.

But because it’s the Grizzlies, that wasn’t the end of the story.


With less than a minute left to play, Cuddemi made it 4-3, and with 15 seconds left, he capped off the hat trick with his fifteenth of the year to send the game to over time.

Unfortunately, Rapid City scored to win the game 59 seconds into the extra frame. It was not the Grizzlies’ finest game, by any stretch of the imagination, what with the defensive struggles and passing issues. However, Utah never gave up, and did collect a very important point.

The five game series concludes tomorrow night in Rapid City before the Grizzlies return home for an extended home-stand.

Utah Grizzlies: Spinning Tires

Tonight saw the much awaited returns of Colin Martin and Cam Reid, bringing with them some changes to the lineup. With Sam Windle day-to-day with an injury per Adrian Denny, Phil Pietroniro returned to defence, and Martin replaced Travis Howe as the tenth forward.

The first period was nothing if not penalty filled. Erik Bradford took a hooking call 2:22 into the first, Mike Banwell took another at 9:09, and Pelech went to the box for roughing seventeen minutes in. Troy Redmann took a delay of game penalty soon thereafter, giving the Grizzlies a brief 5-on-3.

With that many penalties in the first, it is perhaps not surprising that the Grizzlies did spend quite a bit of time in their own zone, getting outshot 12-6 through the first period.

The second period began a lot better for the Grizzlies. They killed off the remaining 51 seconds of Redmann’s penalty, and then Reid sent the puck past Marek Langhamer to put the Grizzlies up 1-0 at 3:25 for his third of the year.

Utah got their first crack on the power play at 5:41 as Triston Grant got sent off for interference, but Ralph Cuddemi took the Grizzlies’ third hooking call of the night to negate the man advantage.

Rapid City tied the game up at 15:47 as Michael Young beat Redmann on the Rush’s 20th shot of the night.

Evan Stoflet got called for cross-checking at 16:31, but the Grizzlies killed it off, and got a power play of their own to close out the period as Grant went off for high-sticking against Nemcik. Though they established good offensive zone pressure, the period ended before they could make anything of it.

At the end of 40, Rapid City outshot Utah 23-13, and the game was tied at one a piece.

Just seconds into the third, Rapid City took a slashing penalty against Bradford, and the Grizzlies had a very short 5-on-3. The two man advantage was not long enough to set anything up, but Utah had a pretty decent looking power play.

Coming off that power play, the Grizzlies began to pick up the pace a bit, but just when things began to look like they might get rolling, Banwell got called for delay of game. The penalty kill remained perfect, but Rapid City took the 2-1 lead with 10:50 to go.

The Rush took a penalty almost immediately after the goal, but again, though the Grizzlies had some chances, they were unable to capitalize.

The teams traded penalties with less than five to go, ultimately ending with a short Grizzlies’ power play. Again, the Grizzlies established possession, but couldn’t press the man advantage.

With about a minute left to play, Branham pulled Redmann in favour of the extra skater, but Rapid City scored into the empty net with less than 30 seconds left to play.

It was not one of the Grizzlies better outings as they took quite a few penalties, and were never able to really get going. However, the game was also not uniformly awful, as Utah was a perfect 8/8 on the penalty kill, and Redmann made 33 saves.

Utah and Rapid City face off on Friday and again on Saturday to cap off the five game series between these two teams.