Utah Grizzlies Claw Way to 5-3 Victory Over Wichita Thunder
A night after falling 6-2 to the Wichita Thunder, the Utah Grizzlies ended the Thunder’s four-game winning streak with two goals in each of the first two periods on their way to a 5-3 win. It was a game that saw the Grizzlies answer Wichita goals with goals of their own on three separate occasions on their way to the victory. The loss dropped Wichita to 4-2-0 and moved the Grizzlies to 6-3-0.
The Wichita Thunder came out pressing the attack and it paid off early. A little over two minutes into the game the Grizzlies took a penalty for delay of game, putting the Thunder on the power-play. Wichita pressed he attack, keeping the puck in the Utah zone. At 3:55 of the first, they would take the lead when Macoy Erkamps wristed a low shot from the point that Jack Rodewald deflected through the legs of Utah goalie Ryan Faragher and into the net to make it 1-0.
The lead was short-lived as 1:25 later the Grizzlies would tie it. Evan Stoflet’s shot was stopped by Wichita goalie Drew Owsley, but the rebound bounced right to Colin Martin who lifted the puck over a sprawling Owsley and into the net for his second goal of the season.
Six minutes later the Grizzlies would find themselves on the power-play. Kenton Helgeson fired a shot from the right boards that the Thunder goalie saved, but the rebound came to Erik Higby who was standing alone at the left side of the net. He simply tucked the puck into the goal for his third of the season and suddenly the Utah Grizzlies were in the lead.
The two teams would head to the locker rooms following the first intermission with Utah leading on the scoreboard and in the shots department. They were dominating play after the early Thunder tally, holding a 14-6 advantage in shots. The second period would not prove to be much better.
At the 4:26 mark of the period, Nick Trecapelli took a cross-checking penalty and the Grizzlies would take advantage. Faragher gained control of the puck and made a quick pass to Tim Daly who found Ralph Cuddemi standing alone at the Thunder blueline. He fired a pass out of his zone to Cuddemi, who went in and beat Owsley over the left shoulder with the wrist shot that extended the lead to two. That was Cuddemi’s second goal of the season and the second power-play goal for Utah in the contest.
The Grizzlies looked like they would extend their lead at the 10:45 mark when a pass to Helgesen put him alone in front of the net, but Owsley made a great save to keep the puck out and keep it a 3-1 game.
At the 11:34 mark the Wichita Thunder would reward their goalie. Alexis Loiseau passed to Rodewald along the left boards. He carried the puck out and made a nice move, wristing the puck by Faragher on the short side to make it 3-2.
A little less than six minutes later Utah would put their lead back at two. The Thunder were unable to clear the puck out of the end and it would come back to haunt them. Mike Banwell took a shot that hit off the crossbar and out to Carlos Amestoy. He passed the puck quickly to Travis Howe who redirected the puck through the Thunder goalie’s legs and into the net to make it 4-2.
Wichita would get a big lift when Gerrad Grant would score with just 2.7-seconds left in the second period. Louick Marcotte took a shot that caromed off the Utah defenseman and into the corner. Logan Nelson quickly gained control of the puck and passed it out to Grant who one-timed it in for his second goal of the season.
It was a huge lift for the Wichita Thunder, especially considering that they were being outplayed for the most part. The Grizzlies would outshoot them 18-11 in the period, and Owsley was the only thing still keeping his team in the game.
The late goal gave the team a lift and they came out on fire in the third period, but a Helgesen goal 7:24 into the period pretty much clinched the victory. Tim Daly passed the puck to Helgesen who was alone in front of the net and he one-timed it in to make it 5-3. That would the final.
The Thunder could only manage one shot on net in the third period, while Utah put six more on net. Owsley (2-1-0) saved 33 of 38 shots in dropping his first decision of the season. Faragher had to save just 15 shots in the game.
Helgesen had a goal and an assist for the Utah Grizzlies. Evan Stoflet and Tim Daly each had two assists. The Thunder were led by Rodewald who tallied 2-goals giving him five on the year.
The Thunder now have five days off before welcoming the Tulsa Drillers to Wichita Friday night. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier