Lewis, Grizzlies Gnarl Thunder, 8-2
The Utah Grizzlies were not in the festive, holiday spirit on Tuesday night as they dominated the Wichita Thunder in Kansas, 8-2. Utah scored three goals in both the second and third periods as Ty Lewis scored a hat trick and added two assists. Tim McGauley had a historic night for the Grizzlies, setting a franchise record for assists (6) and for points (7). Stefan Fournier scored both goals for the Thunder.
Utah dominated this contest from the outset, outshooting Wichita 10-4 in the first period to help them take a 2-0 lead. The Grizzlies scored the first of those goals just 37 seconds into the contest. Griffen Molino fired a shot from the right boards that Lewis deflected in for his fourth goal of the year.
Eight minutes later Utah was back on the board. Molino entered the Wichita end on a 2-on-1 break. He pulled the defender toward him before passing the puck across to McGauley who was cruising down the slot. McCauley simply redirected the puck past Wichita goalie Stuart Skinner and in for his eighth goal of the year.
The Thunder were able to apply more pressure in the second period, but the Grizzlies would extend their lead to four before Wichita finally got on the board. Another early goal gave Utah a 3-0 lead as Taylor Richart scored 1:50 into the second. With Utah on the power-play, the puck was passed back to Richart at the point. He fired a wrist shot that found its way through the five-hole of Skinner and in.
It remained a three goal lead for the Grizzlies until just before the 15 minute mark when Utah added another goal with the man advantage. The shot by Travis Barron was stopped, but the rebound was loose in front of the net. Lewis swept in, knocking in the puck for his second goal of the game.
The Thunder responded 25 seconds later. Chris Crane carried the puck into the Utah end, dropping it back to Riley Weselowski. Weselowski made a great pass to Fournier, who was standing at the backdoor. He drilled the one-timer for his ninth goal of the season, helping to get the crowd back into the game.
However, with a little over two minutes left in the period, the Utah Grizzlies restored their lead. With Utah short-handed, McGauley carried the puck into the Thunder end on a 2-on-2. He waited until Molino was able to get past the Thunder defender before feeding him the puck. Molino made a move to his backhand, drawing Skinner to his left before going back to his forehand, sliding the puck into the net for his ninth goal of the season. That made it 5-1.
The Grizzlies extended their lead to five with their third power-play goal of the game 4:18 into the third period. Richart’s second goal of the game made it 6-1. That score held until just before the 15 minute mark when Fournier added his second goal of the contest. However, Lewis restored the lead 34 seconds after the Fournier tally. Mitch Maxwell closed out the scoring with his first goal of the season.
The special teams were superb for the Grizzlies, converting all three power-play chances and killing off all five penalty-kills. They also scored a short-handed goal. Utah outshot Wichita, 33-22.
The Wichita Thunder remain at home welcoming the Tulsa Oilers to town on Saturday. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image Courtesy of Wichita Thunder