Utah Grizzlies Game Recap: Lackluster

Coming off a 6-5 shoot out loss with Joe Cannata in net, and a 5-4 SO win with Kevin Carr in net, the Grizzlies looked to close out the Rapid City road trip with a winning record. With Kevin Davis and Josh Anderson both called up to the Eagles Utah played short-handed with just five defensemen, but J.T. Henke drew in, so the Grizzlies also dressed ten forwards for the first time in quite a while.

The game got off to a pretty good start, Utah picking up six shots to the Rush’s three in the first ten minutes or so. At 9:59, Michael Turner took a tripping call, and Utah headed off to the power play. Josh Dickinson got the only official shot on the advantage, and Cannata made a big save on Turner who came flying down the ice fresh out of the box.

Despite the shot advantage, it was the Rush who struck first, Riley Weslowski making it rain stuffed animals, as it was teddy bear toss night, as well as Guns ‘n Hoses night in Rapid City.

Cannata looked a little shaky at times through the first, but the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Rush, even after Turner Ottenbreit headed to the box at 14:18, then again at 17:27. Twenty seconds later, Teigan Zahn laid a big hit, Weslowski took exception, and the two dropped the gloves. With Zahn sent to the locker room and Ottenbreit in the box, the Grizzlies played with three defensemen for all but the last thirty seconds or so of the frame.

After the first, Rapid City led 1-0, out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-10.

Turner took a hooking call on Nolan De Jong at 1:05, sending Utah to an early, and ultimately futile power play. After Zahn, Weselowski, and Turner all left the box, De Jong took a slashing call, and Saquille Merasty scored on the ensuing power play.

Rapid City iced the puck twice in a row at about the seven minute mark, and Utah pressured, cycling well though picking up no shots.

Just around the half-way point, first Jake Marchment and then Matt Berry got nice looks, but Adam Carlson remained strong. The foot-speed of Cole Ully drew a slashing call at 11:34. It was, probably, their best up until that point, but once again they came up empty.

Utah drew a power play, though probably one they would have preferred to go without, as Ottenbreit went down very hard behind the Utah net and had to be helped off the ice at 15:19.

The Grizzlies looked pretty good following the power play, cycling the puck and getting a couple of looks, eventually leading to a hooking call against Weselowski. Unfortunately, Ully took a high-sticking call with forty seconds to go.

After a period that didn’t go particularly well, Utah continued to trail 2-0, shots 20-18 for the Rush.

Matt Berry came flying out of the gate off the opening face-off, and Ottenbreit returned to the ice a few shifts in. Ottenbreit took another penalty, tripping this time, at 4:25. Utah killed it off.

By the time there was only seven minutes left, Utah had tied up the shots 25-25, but still remained unable to put one past Carlson.

Ully drew another power play with just about five to go. They rang iron on the advantage but came up empty once again. The Grizzlies pulled Cannata for the extra attacker right as the power play came to an end, and the Rush scored into the empty net.

Garrett Klotz tried to goad Ottenbreit into a fight for reasons unknown with just under two minutes left, and shortly thereafter, chaos descended. Weirdly, since they were up 3-0, the Rush got a little nasty at the end of what had been largely a reasonable game. A scrum ensued with less than 20 seconds left, that resulted in Quintin Lisoway getting a roughing call, while Austin Carroll was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.

At the final buzzer, the Rush had done an unfortunately perfect job of shutting down the most potent offense in the league for the 3-0 victory, handing the Grizzlies their first regulation loss against a Mountain Division opponent all year.

While it obviously wasn’t Utah’s best night, it certainly wasn’t their worst either. They team returns home with three of six possible points and a 13-3-3-1 record before they head back on the road to play Idaho next weekend.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming 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.