The Utah Grizzlies came to Wichita for a two game set starting on Friday, looking to take the lead in the Mountain Division. The Grizzlies trailed the Idaho Steelheads by a single point in the standings, looking to dispatch the Thunder to jump into the lead. Thanks to a 31 save performance by Kevin Carr and two goals by Ryan Walters, Utah would skate away with a 4-0 victory.
The Utah Grizzlies found the number 11 proved to be lucky early on. With 11:11 left in the first and the team on a power-play, Jake Marchment passed the puck to Ryan Walters who was at the right faceoff circle. He fired a wrist shot that beat Ty Rimmer over the shoulder for his eighth goal of the year.
Kevin Carr proved to be the difference in this game, and that was no more on display than in the second period. The Thunder would take 14 shots on net, and had a great opportunity where they had a 5-on-3 power-play for over a minute that was part of a four minute penalty against the Grizzlies. The Thunder peppered Carr, but he made a number of great saves.
The biggest one came when a shot by the Thunder was saved, going to the other side of the net to a wide open Mark MacMillan. MacMillan fired a shot into what looked like a wide open net, but Carr swept across the net like lightning, making a spectacular save to deny the Thunder forward.
Rimmer had been nearly impressive, keeping the Grizzlies to just one goal through the first 47 minutes of the contest, but Utah would use the power-play to extend their lead to two. J.T. Henke had the puck along the boards. He passed it out to Mike Economoe at the left faceoff circle, who blasted a one timer past Rimmer for his fourth goal of the year.
With a little less than 10 minutes left in the game, the Utah Grizzlies would make the lead three. Tyler Richart made a perfect outlet pass to Joey Raats just as he was entering the Wichita end. He split between two defencemen, then beat Rimmer over the shoulder for his second goal of the game.
A minute later the lead became four. Caleb Herbert and Ryan Walters entered the Thunder end on a 2-on-1. Herbert moved in, firing the shot that trickled just wide of the far post, but Walters was able to corral the puck, tucking it into the empty net for his second goal of the game.
Four goals was far more than enough support for Kevin Carr. He would save all 30 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season. Ryan Walters had two goals and Eric Freschi added two assists to lead the Utah offense.
These two teams will square off again on Saturday. The opening faceoff is set for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier