Third Period Surge Propels Utah Past Wichita
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The Utah Grizzlies scored three unanswered goals in the third, earning a 6-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Friday. Cory Thomas, Tarun Fizer, and Brandon Cutler each had three points for the Grizzlies. Jay Dickman scored for Wichita, this third goal in two games. The loss puts the Thunder just one point ahead of Utah for fourth place in the Mountain Division standings.
Wichita jumped out in front when Jason Pineo scored a shorthanded goal 10:59 into the contest. Connor Walters sent a clearing attempt into the Utah zone and Pineo outraced a Grizzlies defenseman for the puck. He moved in on Lukas Parik, beating him with a shot through the legs for his second goal of the season.
The Grizzlies responded a little over four minutes later when Aaron Thow tied the score. Jordan Martel passed the puck to Thow, who buried a one-timer by Roman Basran to tie the score at one.
With 46 seconds left in the period, Utah took the lead. Fizer came out of the penalty box just in time to receive a pass from Keaton Jameson. That sent him toward Basran on a breakaway and he was able to beat the Thunder netminder for his 25th goal of the year.
The Grizzlies extended the lead to two when Cutler scored 11 seconds into the second. Fizer took a shot that Basran knocked aside with his blocker, but right to Cutler, who put the rebound in for his 13th of the year.
The Thunder were down, but Dickman netted his 24th goal of the season at 4:37 to pull the team back within one. Wichita was on the power-play when Brayden Watts took a shot that Parik saved, but Dickman put back in the rebound, making it 3-2.
Just 61 seconds later, Peter Bates tied the score. Bates read a pass attempt in the neutral zone perfectly, sending him in on a breakaway. He beat Parik with a wrist shot to knot the game at three.
The scored remained tied through the remainder of the second period, but Utah dominated the third, outshooting the Thunder 19-8 and scoring three goals. The first came at 11:47 when Tyler Penner put his team on top for good. Fizer led a 2-on-1 break into the Wichita zone, but opted to a take the shot. Basran made the save, but Penner found the loose puck, putting it in for his 12th goal of the year.
Just 71 seconds later, Martel extended the lead to two. Thomas fed the puck to Martel at the right faceoff circle, who drilled a one-timer home to make it 5-3. With 18 seconds left in the game, Cameron Wright put in an empty net goal for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Wichita Thunder take on the Utah Grizzlies again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 8:10 Wichita time.
By Robert Pannier