Grizzlies Rally in Third to Stun Thunder, 5-4
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT – The Utah Grizzlies scored three goals in the third period on Friday night, erasing a two-goal deficit to defeat the Wichita Thunder, 5-4. Brandon Cutler scored the final two goals of the game to complete the comeback victory. Peter Bates had two goals and added an assist for the Thunder.
This contest was scoreless through much of the first period, but Wichita got on the board 17:40 into the frame when Brayden Watts scored his fourth goal of the season. With the Thunder on the power-play, Lleyton Moore passed the puck to Watts at the left face-off circle, who blasted a one-timer by Garrett Metcalf to make it 1-0.
The Thunder looked like they would carry the one goal advantage into the first intermission, but Utah tied the game with 59 seconds left in the first. Nathan Burke received a pass, then moved around a Thunder defenseman, beating Beck Warm with his fourth goal of the year.
Wichita dominated the early part of the third, scoring three goals within the first eight minutes. The first came when Jay Dickman netted his sixth tally of the year just 50 seconds into the frame. Watts passed the puck out to Dickman in the high slot, who blew a one-timer by Metcalf to put the Thunder on top, 2-1.
Three minutes later, Bates netted his first goal of the night to extend the lead to two. Gannon Laroque set up the play, finding Bates near the net, who shoveled the puck past the Grizzlies netminder for his fifth goal of the year.
At the 7:33 mark, Bates extended the lead to three. Nolan Kneen blocked a shot attempt inside the Wichita zone, then went the opposite way, finding Bates before he crossed into the Grizzlies zone. The forward made a nice move, drawing Metcalf to his right, before tucking the puck inside the post to make it 4-1.
Wichita was dominating this contest, but Utah took control from there, scoring four goals over the final 30 minutes of the contest. Tyler Penner cut the deficit to two with seven minutes left in the second when Mick Messner took a shot that deflected off the shin pad of Penner and in for his first goal of the year.
In the third, Jordan Martel cut the deficit to one when he scored on the power-play just 31 seconds into the frame. Brett Stapley took a shot that Warm saved, but the rebound was loose in the crease area. Martel was eventually able to gain control, slipping it past the Thunder netminder to cut the deficit to one.
Just before the three-minute mark, Cutler scored his first goal of the night to knot the game at four. Martel found Cutler at the back door, who redirected the puck past Warm for his third goal of the season.
The game remained tied for the next 11 minutes, but Cutler delivered the game-winner with 5:41 left in the contest. Utah came with a burst of speed out of their zone, with Martel leading the rush. He eventually found Cutler, who beat Warm with the game-winner.
Wichita was outshot 18-8 in the third period, but outshot the Grizzlies overall, 31-30. Warm made 25 saves while Metcalf stopped 27. Watts had two points for Wichita. Martel finished with a goal and two assists for the Grizzlies.
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday. The puck drops at 8:10 Wichita time.
by Robert Pannier