Utah Grizzlies: Max-imum Suspense

After Friday’s decisive victory, the roster remained the same, although the lines did see some minor juggling, putting Yuri Terao back on a line with Travis Barron and Mitch Maxwell.

Sasha Larocque gave Utah the first shot of the game less than twenty seconds in, but Tulsa was far better prepared in the early going, not allowing the Grizzlies to run away with the shots (2-2 early), and forcing Ouellette to make a big save.

Utah did eventually find themselves out-shooting the Oilers 5-2, but Adam Pleskach repeated his Friday performance, striking first for Tulsa at 5:09.

Nearly three minutes later, however, the Oilers let Maxwell camp out right on the left side of the paint, and Barron set him up for the perfect shot to tie the game. Barron and Ian McNulty got into a tussle on the ensuing face-off, but the game continued.

The first line showed no signs of stopping, Tim McGauley shooting on Olle Eriksson Ek, and the rebound landing square on the stick of Griffen Molino. Molino showed no mercy, sniping his 13th of the year from McGauley and Ty Lewis.

McGauley took a holding call, and Cam Knight beat Ouellette clean to make it 2-2 with 7:26 to go.

A few minutes later, Josh Anderson made a particularly impressive play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, standing on one skate, while being hauled over. Utah got a power play later in the shift, but though they came close, Tulsa returned to full strength with no change in score.

With three to go, Ty Lewis exchanged jabs with an Oilers player, and Peter Tischke charged in to champion his cause.

Richart made a diving play to put the puck out of the zone on the ensuing penalty kill, and an incredible Molino short-handed one-on-none was broken up when a Tulsa player threw his stick to try to prevent it. Utah got a brief stint of four-on-four time, and then threw everything but the kitchen sink at Eriksson Ek.

When the buzzer sounded, Utah had 12 seconds of PP time to go, and shots were 12-10 in their favor, but the score remained 2-2.

The first period was definitely far less smooth than Friday’s with plenty more whistles and goals.

Though the Grizzlies didn’t do anything with the first 12 seconds, they returned to the power play less than a minute later on a slashing cal to Cam Knight.

Unfortunately, that too suffered the fate of many early power plays, and nothing came of it, the Oilers forcing Utah to chase down the puck repeatedly. Richart got the only shot right into the crest of Eriksson Ek’s jersey.

They might not have gotten anything going on the advantage, but the Grizzlies threw in some big hits along with the offense and defense, getting particularly good shifts from Wegwerth, Richart, and the usual three suspects. Maxwell also came in for some notice, throwing the puck into absolute mayhem.

The Oilers did do a good job getting in the Grizzlies’ way in the offensive zone, but not good enough to keep Utah from picking up the shots.

Zahn took a “cross-checking” call at about the half-way point, which was a bit more of a glorified shove when a whole pile of players ended up on Ouellette.

Following the power play, Utah played very well in their own end, but also spent far too much time in their own end.

Not that it seemed to particularly matter when Molino had an incredible spin around the offensive zone, got knocked down, and picked up an assist when McGauley came barreling in to put the puck over Eriksson Ek.

It was a lead that was not destined to stand, though, as Miles Liberati scored less than a minute later.

A questionable tripping call on Maxwell ended the period, but as the better version of the Grizzlies’ penalty kill came to play.

Once again, Lewis was the cause of a scrum, as he got bumped, and this time Anderson came in to defend him. Thomas and Anderson got offsetting minors. Utah headed into the room still tied 3-3, shots 23-21 for the Oilers.

Utah killed off their penalty, and weathered a Tulsa charge for the first four minutes. Questionable calls continued as Barron slash Thomas, but then Thomas got a call. Wegwerth got shoved, at least as egregiously as Zahn had shoved a Tulsa player earlier, but nothing was called.

Tulsa pressed hard through the middle stages of the third, and though Utah was not without their chances, and turns of blazing speed up the ice (most notably from Tischke), the Oilers either kept Utah chasing in their own zone, or flew in on odd-man rushes.

The defensive zone time cost the Grizzlies, as the defenders got all bunched up on Ouellette’s right, leaving Pleskach all alone to put the puck past Ouellette just over half-way through the third.

They continued to be plagued by turnovers and less-than-crisp play, but they also had moments like one with nearly six left where Jack Jenkins nearly got a beauty following some very good skating.

Things were looking pretty bleak with just over two to go, when Lewis drew a tripping call behind the Oilers’ net, and Ouellette sprinted for the bench.

An absolute muddle of players saw Richart shoot the puck, the rebound spring out to a crowd of sticks, and Lewis put the puck past Eriksson Ek to tie the game.

Regulation wasn’t enough to solve the tie, so guaranteed one point, the Grizzlies went out to try to take the other.

Molino and McGauley nearly had the picture perfect GWG as the Grizzlies’ speed owned the first few minutes of extra time.

There was a scary moment when Jake Clifford put Molino nearly head-first into the boards, and Larocque flew to meet him. Fortunately, Molino appeared alright, and Clifford got two for boarding, as well as a matching roughing call with Larocque.

Eriksson Ek committed grand larceny once again with 1:58 to go, falling backwards into the net, but still stopping Molino’s labeled shot. OT solved nothing, so they headed to the shoot-out.

Maxwell eventually got the game winner, with McGauley and Molino both scoring, as well as a highlight reel stunner from Terao.

It certainly wasn’t the Grizzlies’ prettiest game, but they found a way to make it work.

“I was just telling the guys, I don’t know if we didn’t have it today, they had a LOT of bounces, or they just did a great job of winning battles” Tim Branham said after the game. “That’s what I was harping on, guys, we’ve got to win battles. Every time it was a 50/50 puck, not every time, but a lot of times they were coming up with it, and we’re not used to that. We’re used to winning those battles. We battled, Marty battled for us, big goal at the end there to tie it up, you’re gonna have these games. It was a character win, no one panicked on the bench whatsoever, lots of goals there in the shoot out, it was fun to see.”

The Grizzlies have had a lot of pretty wins lately, but this was certainly not one of them. However, it was good to see them find a way to win in a different style.

“It’s a character group. Can’t say how proud we are of this group, me and Ryan, they’re a family in there, all they want to do is work hard and do well. It’s not always gonna go your night, but we had the crowd behind us tonight, that’s for sure, and we worked hard. It’s tough too with nine forwards, two nights in a row, it’s a lot of ice for those guys. Definitely proud that we’re winning, finding ways to win, cause that’s what it’s gonna take if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, you’ve gotta be able to find wins in various ways, so it was a good job.”

“He’s doing really good. He had a really good road-trip last week too, and that kind of got him going. He’s got everything, he’s moving his feet, he’s got a lot of skill, we saw how tough he was on Friday, and the patience for a shoot-out winner. He’s really important to this group, doesn’t get more of a quality person than that, that’s for sure. We’ve got a lot of those guys in the room, but definitely proud of him. He’s battled, in and out of the lineup kind of thing, and he’s an important part of this team.”

“Like you said, not our best game,” Maxwell agreed, “But we’ve kind of been streaking lately, finding ways to win games, so you’ve just got to ride that while you’re hot. Obviously that line of Lu and Mo, and Gals have kind of been helping us out, and Lu scores that big one for us to give us some momentum, and there you go from there and get two points.”

Of his own performance, he added, “It’s always nice to score goals and help out when you can, to have the opportunity to be put in a situation like that where you have the game on your stick, I think we don’t have a guy on our team who wouldn’t want that, so I was just the lucky guy who got called on tonight to have that opportunity.”

So how do they keep the streak going, and go back to those pretty wins?

“We can’t take our foot off the gas, we’ve just got to keep going. Nothing changes in our room, and we just keep doing the same things.”

Monday’s game is the first opportunity to keep the streak alive, and against a Tulsa team that is not going to out of the decade quietly.

 

Photo courtesy of Jon Berry

Utah Grizzlies: Sweet Revenge

Fresh off a spectacular road trip, and a quick holiday season, the Grizzlies returned home to host the Tulsa Oilers. With Patrick McGrath called up to Iowa, only J.C. Brassard, Garrett Klotz, and the goalies Brad Barone and Jeff Smith were not in the lineup.

Having suffered only one loss, 3-1 to this same Tulsa team on the road, Utah hoped to erase it from memory with a good performance, and bring their winning ways back home.

After a very short stint in their own zone, the Grizzlies got hustling, picking up the first five shots of the night. Their shooting and puck management led to Ty Lewis’ tenth of the season, which he made look absolutely effortless against Devin Williams at 3:34. The usual suspects in Tim McGauley and Griffen Molino picked up the assists.

There were a couple of close calls about twelve minutes in, but Martin Ouellette turned aside a wrap-around attempt, and then calmly shut the door after a turnover led to a bit of a scramble.

The Lewis-McGauley-Molino line continued to impress with their puck handling and rebound creation as shots hit 7-4 for the Grizzlies, and the period hit the half-way mark.

With so few stoppages in play, the flow of the game was allowed to continue unimpeded, and certainly showed off the Grizzlies’ speed and skill.

Yao had an especially memorable shift as he first flew in from the bench to cut off what was otherwise a one-on-none, and then later on the same shift swiped a puck away from an open net after Ouellette made the initial save, and then lost the puck in a sea of bodies.

Ouellette also continued to impress throughout, and the Travis Barron, Brandon Saigeon, Mitch Maxwell line closed the period out with a multi-shot shift.

After 20, Utah led 1-0, out-shooting Tulsa 12-8.

The Grizzlies drew the game’s first power play at 1;25, following a bit of nice puck-handling from Saigeon. They only picked up one shot, but it didn’t matter, for scarcely had the man advantage ended than Lewis once again made scoring look easy on a play from McGauley.

Shortly thereafter, Yau made a blue-line play from his knees to get the puck up to Lewis. After that, it surprised no one when Lewis passed the puck to McGauley, who hten passed it off to Molino. Williams made the initial save, but Molino backhanded the puck right over the Tulsa goalie to make it 3-0.

Unfortunately, a turnover from Richart eventually led to the Oilers’ first, and only, goal of the game almost immediately afterwards.

Travis Barron and Danny Moynihan got into a scrap at 7:58, Barron getting the better of the exchange, which never quite developed into a full-fledged fight, and Utah killed off the extra two Barron got for slashing.

Williams got a pair of chances just past the 14 minute mark, the first which squeaked just wide of the net, and the second which landed square on the stick of Joe Wegwerth and into the net.

Ouellette made a couple of big saves in the later stages of the period, and Utah drew another power play with under four to go. Although the Grizzlies didn’t actually capitalize on the advantage, it was hard to see their puck movement and think that it looked a little like they were toying with Tulsa.

Barron continued to get opportunities, but not goals, and at the buzzer, Mike McKee turnstiled McGauley, which led to a scuffle with Sasha Larocque and McKee in the thick of it. McKee was assessed a penalty for roughing. As a result, Utah headed into the third up 4-1, out-shooting Tulsa 21-13, and headed to the man-advantage.

The ensuing special teams were underwhelming on both sides, and included the least threatening start to a one-on-none short-handed breakaway ever.

The lacklustre power play was forgotten, however, when just about a minute later, Yao released a big shot on net, and Wegwerth once again tipped the puck home perfectly to put Utah up 5-1.

The game got a little out of hand after that, Wegwerth getting put into the boards, leading to three separate fights. That was more or less when the refs lost control of the game. The fights were all considered rouging calls, and the initial boarding that started it was never called.

On the next shift or so, Zahn dropped the gloves. Zahn got two for slashing, as well as the four and ten both received. The upshot, however was that Utah had nearly a minute of four-on-three to kill.

On the shift after THAT Cam Knight and Mitch Maxwell dropped the gloves, and Maxwell won decisively in a furious bout that was the only one of the game to actually be called a fight. Both got five and a game,  and Utah killed off the rest of their penalties.

Both teams got back to the business of playing hockey after that, though the Oilers did take a delay-of-game penalty at 13:57.

Joe Wegwerth completed the natural hat trick with just under three to go, and the Grizzlies avenged their only road loss in decisive fashion. The hat trick earned Wegwerth first star honors, while Lewis’ two goals, and McGauley’s three assists gave them second and third stars respectively. Flying much further under the radar though, were Yao’s two assists, and overall strong play.

Needless to say, Tim Branham was pleased with his team’s effort.

“We came out, we had something to prove. Last game we played against these guys, it was the one game we took off in the last 20. We had a statement to make. We played a good game, I thought Marty still made some big saves back there. That one goal, Pleskach can score. That’s a tough play to even defend. Really proud of how the boys stuck up for each other, policed the game when it wasn’t being policed. Overall, it was a really good effort.”

When asked about his white hot first line, he said, “It’s fun to watch those guys, every shift they’re pretty creative, pretty fast, stuff like that. And they play such a big part of the game, not only power play, they penalty kill, they give the other team fits. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They play a fast game, and it’s good. It’s what they need to do, what we need them to do, and it’s fun to watch, that’s for sure.”

Yao’s performance also came in for a share of praise. “Very, very good game. Played defense, played forward. He gives you that effort though, he gives you that effort every night. He skates so well, he’s so smart out there. It’s tough. We’ve got a lot of contracted d-men, we’ve got a lot of good defensemen back there, and sometimes rookies gotta bide their time, give you that effort when it’s needed, and he’s done exactly that. He’s been there when we’ve needed that, and he’s a great teammate.”

However, Branham saved most of of his praise for Wegwerth. “He’s doing great.” He said, “We’ve got to understand where he’s coming from. His senior year, last year, his senior year at Notre Dame, I think it was November, December, he broke his leg, and he hasn’t played since then. He comes back out, and breaks his hand when he gets here, then he takes a puck to the mouth, loses teeth six weeks later, and for him to battle the way he has and develop, he’s got a bright future ahead of him, that’s for sure. He’s a big body, he’s tough to handle, he’s tough, he’s got great hand-eye coordination in front of the net, which we saw tonight, and a great human being, so definitely it’s a lot of fun coaching him as well because he’s a sponge out there. He comes from a good program, Jeff Jackson does a good job there at Notre Dame, and Joe’s a byproduct of that.”

The Grizzlies’ offensive game has obviously expanded exponentially recently, but it’s not the only area in which they have improved in the past month or so, something Lewis was quick to point out. “I think our defensive game has come a long way, I feel like we’ve really taken a next step in our d-zone, and our responsibility defensively in the past couple of weeks. Our d-core is really strong, probably one of the most solid d-cores in the league in my opinion, so hopefully we just keep that going.”

“I think everyone is feeling good in the room right now,” he added, when asked about the team’s overall mood, and success. “It’s nice when things go well, and guys are getting the bounces. We’re just trying to take advantage of what we’ve got going here, good mentality in the room, everyone’s prepared to do their job, and things are just working well.”

Wegwerth’s thoughts were similar. “I think it’s a ton of fun. Every night it’s a different guy, it seems like. Everyone is stepping up and doing the little things. It’s not about one person in the room right now, it’s about all of us, and that’s what’s special about it.”

After such a hotly contested game, Saturday’s rematch is certainly going to be one to watch.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard.

Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads: Magnificent 7

The second season is here, the reset button has been hit, and the roster has seen some changes. Travis Barron returned from the AHL, Mitch Maxwell was placed on injured reserve, and Turner Ottenbreit and Grayson Downing are back in the lineup. The Grizzlies are electing to ice seven defensemen, and a truly lethal group of nine forwards. With Joe Cannata on the Avalanche roster, Alex Leclerc is backing up Kevin Carr for Game 1 of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The stage is set.

First Period

  • Travis Barron, Jake Marchment, and Austin Carroll on one line? Goodness. That is pretty ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that it’s followed up by Caleb Herbert, Grayson Downing, and Jack Walker, and completed with Josh Dickinson, Ty Lewis, and Mike Economos. And that’s while missing Cole Ully AND Joey Ratelle. The Grizzlies are STACKED up front!!
  • The amount of defensive zone time to open the period is definitely not good.
  • Idaho ices the puck twice, and momentum shifts a bit.
  • MARCHY OPENS THE SCORING. Jake’s goal came on a tip in of Kevin Davis’ shot, Carroll gets the other assist.
  • Ew. Idaho ties it up.
  • Steven McParland decides to sock Turner Ottenbreit for no reason after the whistle, and that leads to some rough stuff in front of the Utah net.
  • Ahh playoff hockey. Zero penalties called unless someone dies.
  • Things pretty even as the period passes the 15 minute mark.
  • Dickinson with a really nice move to cut to the slot and put the Grizzlies up 2-1 through traffic!
  • Downing and Herbert dig the puck out from the wall behind the Idaho net, and Walker buries the Grizzlies’ third goal of the period!
  • 11-11 are the shots after 20, but Utah leads 3-1!

Second Period

  • The 28s with a puck battle to start the period, because having Marchment and Will Merchant on the ice at the same time isn’t at all confusing.
  • Oooh Walker did not miss the net by much.
  • Downing gets taken down, and that’s the first power play of the game! Quite a crowd gathers on that play.
  • HERBERT SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY. Tomas Sholl wasn’t able to cover up the puck, and it bounced around the front of the net right to Herbert’s stick!
  • Multiple point nights for Lewis and Dickinson already.
  • Oof Idaho very nearly scored there! Really heads up play there from Downing and a save from Carr.
  • Power play Idaho…
  • …and killed with no problem.
  • Dickinson gets hit, and Josh Anderson and Nolan Gluchowski drop the gloves over it.
  • Oh wow, that was a nice one for Dickinson’s second of the game. He kind of just slung it past Sholl, who is having an uncharacteristically rough night.
  • Good defensive coverage there from the guys.
  • Haven’t really needed to mention him much, but Carr’s had a good night.
  • Lewis just needs a goal to go with the oodles of assists he’s got tonight!
  • Another scuffle at the end of the second!
  • Grizzlies lead 5-1 after 40, shots 23-20 for Idaho.

Third Period

  • Ok boys, get Josh Dickinson that hat trick.
  • Lewis trying to take the puck away from Keegan Kanzig was hilarious, as Kanzig is HUGE, and Lewis is, well, not.
  • Idaho with a fair bit of offensive zone time to start the third, but only one shot to show for it so far.
  • Merchant and Marchment continue to have shifts against each other.
  • Please go play in the offensive zone. You’re making me nervous.
  • Nice move from Carr there to make the save, then bat the puck away behind the net. He’s really good at that.
  • CARROLL GETS IN ON THE FUN!
  • AND BARRON FOLLOWS RIGHT AFTER!!

 

  • Some pushing and shoving after the net gets dislodged behind Carr, and while that’s going on, Ryan Faragher is in for Sholl on the other end.
  • Gabriel Verpaelst refuses to go, pulling the move that has been pulled on Utah a couple of times this season. It leads to a lengthy scrum though.
  • Anderson gets two for roughing, Barron gets two for roughing and a misconduct, Kanzig gets a double minor for roughing and a misconduct, Kale Kessy gets five for fighting and a game misconduct for being the aggressor, and Elgin Pearce gets two for roughing and a misconduct. The final result is that Utah gets a five-on-three for two minutes, and then three minutes of five-on-four!
  • Lewis with a nice chance to get his first, and then Downing.
  • Grizzlies win 7-1!!!!

Dickinson (2G, 1A including the GWG and the team leading five shots), Lewis (3 A, four shots), and Richart (2A) were named the three stars of the game, though Carroll (1G, 1A, four shots) and Herbert (1G, 1A) could also easily have been named stars. Every single forward picked up at least one point, and though he was a bit overshadowed by the offensive outpouring, Carr was a strong 35/36.

The Grizzlies will look to continue their strong start in Game 2, also in Idaho on Saturday.

Goals

  • First Period: Marchment (Davis, Carroll), Dickinson (Lewis, Richart), Walker (Herbert)
  • Second Period: Herbert (Dickinson, Lewis), Dickinson (Lewis, Economos)
  • Third Period: Carroll (Downing), Barron (Richart)

UTA: 1/3 (21 PIM)
IDH: 0/1 (48 PIM)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Rob Church.


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Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: Best for Last

Well, it’s here. Game 72 of the regular season, and what a season it’s been. Injuries, win streaks, losing streaks, the most prolific goalscorer in nine years, fighters, point-per-game waiver pickups, speed demons, more injuries (have we mentioned the injuries?) all leading to a spot in the playoffs against these same Idaho Steelheads.

The lineup remained the same with Taylor Richart and Captain Teigan Zahn both playing in game 72/72, while Kevin Carr once again manned the net, facing down Ryan Faragher and the Steelheads.

First Period

  • First three shots go to Idaho.
  • Power play Utah! Good start!
  • ….Short handed goal Idaho two-on-one, beats Carr clean. Less good start.
  • They keep getting into the zone, and then either turning over the puck, bobbling passes, or otherwise not getting anything going.
  • 8-1 shots for Idaho after eight minutes. That’s not ideal, to say the least!
  • Good speed and hustle though.
  • Carr with some nice saves as well.
  • Gabriel Verpaelst and Mitch Moroz drop the gloves! Verpaelst got in way more punches, but Moroz gets the take-down. Both cool their heels for five.
  • Much better second half of the period.
  • Turnovers not so much though.
  • We were at a hockey game, then a rugby scrum broke out! That was a really lengthy puck battle along the boards.
  • Ondrej Vala and Austin Carroll tangle at center ice. They both get slashing minors, though it looked more like roughing than slashing. They’re both shown the door as there’s only 1:19 to go.
  • Utah draws a power play!
  • After 20 Utah trails 1-0, out-shot 15-4. However, they’ve got a power play coming up to start the second.

Second Period

  • Faragher with an unfortunately familiar glove save on that shot.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL.
  • Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Ty Lewis makes it 1-1 from Kevin Davis and Caleb Herbert as the puck trickles through Faragher 43 seconds into the period!
  • That’s the…uh…fourth slashing call this game.
  • Idaho scores. Of course it’s Kale Kessy.
  • Power play for Utah, HUGE save from Carr on a short-handed breakaway!
  • WALKER WITH THE POWER PLAY GOAL! Really sweet pass from Michael Economos too.

  • Josh Dickinson with a nice shot to beat Faragher five-on-five!.
  • The Grizzlies have taken the bit between their teeth this period.
  • Spoke too soon. Idaho ties it riiiiight back up. Puck took a bounce off the Utah defenders in front of Carr and went in.
  • Ooof. Definitely spoke too soon. Idaho takes the lead seven seconds into the power play.
  • Caleb Herbert is sent sprawling, and we’ve got another power play opportunity for Utah…
  • Furious defensive play from Kevin Davis there. Kept a the Idaho player from getting a shot.
  • ROCKET RICHART.
  • And another slashing penalty this game! That’s number five!
  • Utah takes over the shot lead with five to go.
  • Four shots for Utah in the first, 21 for them in the second!
  • 25-24 for Utah are the shots after 40, and we’re tied 4-4!!

Third Period

  • TAYLOR WASTES NO TIME! That’s goal number eight for Mr. Richart, scored just 18 seconds in!
  • VERBEAUTY! What a snipe on a tight angle shot from the bottom of the face-off circle! And just like that, it’s 6-4!
  • Slashing penalty number six.
  • Idaho now with some determined offensive zone time.
  • Pretty back and forth now.
  • Walker lays the boom!
  • Idaho takes a penalty, and then Utah takes a penalty with 4:19 to go.
  • GORGEOUS short-handed look from Economos. With those wheels, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Walker, if he wasn’t sitting in the box!
  • Walker takes the puck up ice out of the box, and after a lengthy battle around the net, Mitch Maxwell makes it 7-4!
  • And that’s all she wrote!!

Richart scored goals number seven and eight, earning first star of the game for the game winner, while Lewis took second star with his continued scoring bonanza (1G, 3A on Sunday, 5G, 8A in seven games), and Walker was named third star with a goal and two assists. Carroll picked up three assists, Herbert picked up two, Economos led the team in shots with six, and Carr stopped 33/37 for his 20th win of the season.

It was definitely a team win from goal-tending on out, and it was pretty much everything you could hope for from a final game. “Obviously we want to get wins,” Tim Branham said afterwards, “But more importantly we want to be playing the right way going into playoffs, so for all the reasons that we talked about yesterday, adding new players and whatnot, really proud of the way this group battled these last two games, just gaining confidence and understanding the way you have to play in order to have success in the playoffs.”

There may have been a few little hiccups in the first half of the game, but some of them were just down to the Steelheads being a very good team. “You’ve got to give Idaho credit, they lost a heartbreaker last night and they wanted to probably come out and have something to prove so they had a little jump in their step. We had to weather the storm, and then it was our turn to play our game. Special teams battle tonight, our power play did a great job, and at the end of the day we found a way to win.”

Importantly, the Grizzlies got goals from players all through the lineup, both on offense and defense. “It’s huge,” said Branham, “You can’t just have contributions from one line or one player, it’s gotta be throughout your lineup if you want to have success, so back end, as well scoring goals, it’s a big help.”

“It’s always good to play 72 games,” said Richart, “It means obviously you’re not in and out of the lineup, you’re not having major injuries, a few bumps and bruises, but I think the whole year I just wanted to focus on playing good, solid two-way hockey, good defensively, good offensively. We had a lot of power up front, so I kind of focused a little bit more on the defensive side, and the offense would come, just getting pucks in like tonight, and they happened to go in.”

“We did have a hot start,” Richart continued, “Which obviously really helped us when that slump kind of kicked in, but it was nice, obviously injuries are part of the game, so we kind of had to battle a little bit there, just kind of shows what we have in that locker room right now, just battling night in and night out. Getting ready for playoffs we knew we had to settle everything down these past couple of weekends, kind of getting in the playoff mode, it’s been playoff hockey the past three weeks, and teams are playing playoff hockey as well, so we just had to keep it together.”

Richart and Zahn both finished the season without missing a single game, despite playing big minutes, and throwing themselves in front of everything, whether it be pucks, or punches–something that Branham praised highly. “[Richart] and Teigan Zahn, both playing every game, they both just eat pucks. We talked about those guys a little bit yesterday, what they mean to this team, as a coach you know what they’re gonna bring every single game, and that’s easy to coach. The leadership that those guys bring is tremendous, it’s invaluable, can’t put a price tag on it, and we’ve got sixteen more wins.”

“Every game you gotta bring it. It’s win or go home now.” Richart concluded. “It’s a new season now, so every day you’ve gotta be ready to go, can’t take any games for granted.”

The Grizzlies will begin the first round of the playoffs against the Steelheads in Idaho on Friday night.

 

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Lewis (Davis, Herbert) (PP), Walker (Economos, Lewis) (PP), Dickinson (Carroll, Anderson), Richart (Walker, Carroll) (PP)
  • Third Period: Richart (Carroll, Herbert), Verpaelst (Lewis, Ausmus), Maxwell (Walker, Lewis)

UTA: 3/6 (17 PIM)
IHD: 2/5 (19 PIM)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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Utah Grizzlies vs Idaho Steelheads: Battling Back

In the second to last game of the regular season Josh Dickinson made his return to Utah, while Tanner Nagel drew back in, and Cole Ully and Turner Ottenbreit sat out. Kevin Carr got the start.

First Period

  • A lot of hustle here from two teams that got in during the wee hours of the morning!
  • Great kill from the boys and Economos draws a power play on the next shift!
  • Aw man, Caleb Herbert missed a wide open net on a fabulous cross-crease pass.
  • Yes it’s a power play, but the Grizzlies have had really good possession all game.
  • Great give-and-go from the Herbert line!
  • Jack Walker shows of his wheels, and presumably gets a speeding ticket, cause he’s headed to the box! (It was for tripping.)
  • Really nice shift from Michael Economos on that penalty kill. Forced the puck out of the zone twice!
  • Idaho with some good zone time (though not a lot of shots) since their power play.
  • Joey Ratelle throws a puck just wide…
  • Passes are slightly less crisp than they were at the start of the game.
  • Idaho’s had all the shots since that power play…
  • Really could do with some more possession in the offensive zone.
  • The last couple of minutes have been mostly Kevin Carr vs Idaho.
  • Idaho’s intercepting a lot of passes, which is definitely contributing to Utah’s possession struggles.
  • Ty Lewis gets roughed over and retaliates. Only he goes to the box.
  • However, the power play is quickly negated on a double minor for high-sticking.
  • Shots are 14-7 for Idaho after a scoreless 20.

Second Period

  • Four on four for 1:12, then a Utah power play.
  • Josh Dickinson’s back-hand squeaks just wide, and then Herbert bobbles a pass from Kevin Davis.
  • Uhg. Idaho strikes first on an absolute rocket from the point.
  • Who else but Taylor Richart with the big block before the puck is redirected wide.
  • Really alert move from Dickinson? I think? to keep the puck from slipping past Carr.
  • Teigan Zahn and Kale Kessy are the main culprits in a tussle that breaks out by the Utah bench. Kessy socks Zahn so he gets an extra two minutes of shame.
  • Shots are now 19-19.
  • OOOh. A very nice pair of saves from Carr there.
  • Carroll running the Steelheads around their own zone on this Herbert penalty. Looked like King was trying to goad Austin into taking a penalty on the way back to the bench. Didn’t work though.
  • 2-0 Idaho through traffic right as the power play was expiring.
  • 25-23 shots for Utah, 2-0 score for Idaho.

Third Period

  • Ok, need a big 20 minutes here.
  • Lewis bats in his third of the year from Zahn and Dickinson at 3:07!
  • Well, the 9,345 people in attendance are NOT happy about the non call on Economos. It happened so fast I’m not sure it even should have been a penalty.
  • Snazzy little glove save from Carr there.
  • OOooh that was a quiiiiiick whistle as the puck bounced away from Tomas Scholl.
  • Just need one more…
  • Idaho is starting to look tired. They’ve iced the puck a couple of times, and now they’ve flipped the puck out of play.
  • Davis with a couple of ROCKETS.
  • Pretty sure the Grizzlies should have gotten credited for a few shots on goal during that power play…
  • OH WE NEEDED BOUNCE LIKE THAT. The puck JUUUUUST squeaks past Scholl and over the line!!!
  • To OT we go!

OT

  • HERBERT WINS IT IN OT.

 

Caleb Herbert was named the first star of the game with the game winning goal–his 32nd of the year. Ty Lewis got second star for his assist and two goals, and Josh Dickinson’s two assists earned him third.

“He plays a lot like Ully.” Tim Branham said of the second star. “Those guys are fast, skilled, they can really get around the ice. He’s been good for us. He’s been really good for us, he’s had five points his first two games, we kind of struggled offensively as a team there, and then tonight, right, getting us on the scoreboard, getting us going, and good for him, he’s a good player, he’ll have a real long career, and not at this level.”

“I thought [Dickinson] played really well tonight,” he continued. “We’re just trying to rest Cole there, just save him for playoffs. I thought Josh came in and played an excellent game. He hasn’t been on the ice for a long time, he’s been injured up there in Colorado, hasn’t played, and I thought he was really good. Really good tonight.”

After Friday’s game misconduct, Carr was back in command of his net, and Branham had praise for both his goaltenders. “Kevin was great yesterday, and he was great today. I thought Alex Leclerc came in and played a really good game yesterday. It was a tough situation he got put in. Questionable call, I think at the end of the day I think it might have been the right call by the referees, but very questionable, but it was a tough situation for Alex to come in and play. I thought he did a great job, he’s a good goaltender. He moves really well laterally, and he’s a great kid. Carrsy, Carrsy’s…” he paused, before adding “Great game, great both games, today and yesterday, passionate guy, did a great job for us today.”

The team has had a bit of a rough go of it lately, and that was painfully obvious on the most recent seven game road trip, but the problems began well before that, as Branham noted.

“Rough road trip! We’ve had a rough since February 16th! You know what, our roster has changed so much this year, we’ve played real short handed many times, and then when you have an influx of players sometimes it takes a little bit to gel, and we’ve had a lot of that, a lot of change in and out. Battling to find our consistency, there have been games where we played well, just couldn’t find ways to score, we haven’t scored a lot of five-on-five goals lately, our power play has been carrying us. This was a character win tonight. Obviously that’s a good team, probably who we’re gonna face in playoffs. We definitely needed that one, cause they were getting some bounces, then we finally got some bounces there at the end. Really proud of the way the boys played that third period, though we played a really good first period to be honest as well. It was good to get the win.”

The game was Lewis’ first home game with Utah, and he enjoyed it. “It was a pretty cool experience,” he said. “The fans here are fantastic, it’s a great atmosphere, and I really like the group of guys here, so it was fun playing here tonight.”

As much as he enjoyed the moment, it was clear that he’s focused on the future. “It’s huge,” he said of the win, “Going into playoffs this is a potential playoff match-up and to battle back like that in the third is big for our group. I thought the crowd was fantastic, lots of energy–especially in the third– and I thought we fed off that really well. It’s a good win, and just looking forward to tomorrow!”

“I thought we were pretty good defensively for the most part, there were a few breakdowns here and there but we have a really diverse group in there. After the second period we knew we had to find a way to win, and every single guy in there stepped up their game and brought their effort. It’s a huge play by Herbs there in overtime to put that in, so its good on him and good for our group, and hopefully keep it going for playoffs.”

With Utah’s win and Kansas City’s loss, it is now official that Idaho will in fact be the Grizzlies’ first round opponent, as well as their opponent in the final game of the regular season.

 

Goals

  • First Period: None
  • Second Period: Lewis (Zahn, Dickinson), Lewis (Dickinson, Marchment)
  • Third Period: Herbert (Davis, Lewis)

UTA: 0/6 (10 PIM)
IDH: 1/4 (14 PIM)

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


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