Miner Silences Thunder in 3-0 Grizzlies Victory
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT – Utah can be an inhospitable place for those not used to the rugged terrain and cold temperatures. Those things were the least of concerns for the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday night as Trent Miner gave the team one more reason to find the state unfriendly, as Miner stopped all 28 shots he faced leading the Utah Grizzlies to a 3-0 victory over the Thunder Matthew Boucher had a goal and an assist. Wichita has now lost five games in a row.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a 1-0 lead 8:31 into the contest, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play. Benjamin Tardif passed the puck to Andrew Nielsen in the slot, who corralled the puck onto the blade of his steak before firing a laser of a wrist shot by Evan Buitenhuis to put Utah on top.
Six minutes later, the lead became two. With Utah shorthanded, Benjamin Tardif knocked the puck off the stick of a Thunder defenseman inside his own zone. Mason Mannek then gained control of the loose puck, firing a wrist shot from the slot past the blocker of Buitenhuis for his seventh goal of the season.
The Grizzlies had absolutely dominated the first period, outshooting Wichita, 24-5. That included stretches where Utah had seven and six straight shots on Buitenhuis, but the netminder was spectacular despite giving up the two goals.
In the second, the Thunder were able to generate more scoring opportunities, but Utah still had the better of the play, outshooting Wichita, 14-11. That allowed them to extend the lead to three, scoring with just seven seconds left in the frame.
The Grizzlies won the draw inside their own zone, Luke Martin passed the puck up along the boards to Brandon Cutler, who split between two Thunder defensemen. As he moved in just above the goal line, Cutler turned and made a perfect pass Boucher in the slot, who fired a wrist shot by Buitenhuis for his third goal of the year.
Both teams continued to generate scoring opportunities in the third, but neither team could light the lamp during the frame. Utah finished with a 3-0 victory, dominating this contest, outshooting Wichita 52-28.
Miner recorded his fourth shutout of the season, lowering his goals-against average to 2.13. Despite taking the loss, Buitenhuis played very well, stopping 49 of 52 shots. He moved to 9-9-1 on the season.
These two teams continue their four-game series on Friday. The puck drops at 8:10 Wichita time.
By Robert Pannier