On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, the Utah Grizzlies started a three-game series against the Allen Americans during the biggest snowstorm to hit Salt Lake City this year. Most areas got hit with a foot or more of snow, and Allen’s bus got stuck on their way to the arena, so the ECHL and Maverick Center had to push the puck drop from 7:10 pm MT to 8:00 pm.
Before the game started, the Grizzlies had a roster change. Garret Metcalf was loaned to the Calgary Wranglers (AHL), so local player Jay Stevens was signed on as an EBUG with the Grizzlies for the second time this season. The starters were: Lukas Parik, Keaton Jameson, Brycen Martin, Dakota Raabe, Kyle Pouncy, and Vladislav Mikhalchuk.
The first period was a strong one for the Grizzlies. They had 13 shots on goal, while the Americans only had 10. Grant Herbert was put in the penalty box for a high stick (minor) 6:26 into the first period, and Tarun Fizer took advantage by scoring the game’s first goal at 6:36 – only 10 seconds into the Grizzlies power play!
Joey Colatarci was put in the penalty box at 7:21 for holding, and Kris Myllari followed at 8:26 for holding.12:08 into the first, Dylan Fitze slammed the puck into the back of the American’s net, giving the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead. Americans had two breakaways that put the crowd on the edge of their seats. We held our breath as Parik fought them off and didn’t allow the puck to pass him. Mikael Robidoux was put into the penalty box at 16:05 for roughing, and Connor McDonald was put in at 19:15 for holding.
As the first period ended, both teams fought for the upper hand. The Americans started the second period with a few seconds left over from the power play they had gained at the end of the first period. Despite this starting advantage, they were unable to make the right play to get the puck into the net. Both teams were looking to see who would score the next goal. After a tense 3:52, Cam Strong scored, giving the Grizzlies a 3-0 lead.
Both teams looked much better than when they faced each other at the beginning of the month. Ryan Gagnon was awarded the first penalty 8:29 into the second period for boarding (minor). Still, the Grizzlies showed off their improvement in communication and passing as Tyler Penner scored the fourth goal of the game, putting the Grizzlies up 4-0 just 11:48 into the second period.
Shortly after, Andrew Neilson got a high sticking penalty (double minor), and 42 seconds later, Keaton Jameson got a holding call. Two minutes later, the Americans procured their first goal of the game as Colton Hargrove scored a power-play goal at 14:19, bringing the score to 4-1. Liam Finlay scored another power-play goal just a few seconds later, bringing the score to 4-2.15:15 into the second period; Parik tried to clear the puck from behind his net. He ended up passing the puck into the middle, where Hank Crone caught it mid-air and scored unassisted, giving Americans their 3rd power-play goal. The Grizzlies started to feel the pressure of the Americans catching up while the Americans fought to get that final, tie-breaking goal. At the final whistle of the second, both Andrew Nielson and Colby Mcauley were in the box with roughing penalties (minors).
The third starts with both Neilson and Mcauley in the box. At 16:20, Neilson was hit with the puck and could not get back up. While Neilson was down, the Americans got off a few shots, including a fast slap shot that took Parik’s helmet off. The following 5 minutes were intense, and with just 1:10 left in the game, Americans decided to pull Luke Peressini from the net, trying to tie up the game with an extra player on the ice. With only 26.4 seconds left, Tarun Fizer got an open net goal sealing the game as the Grizzlies won with the final score of 5-3. Parik needed assistance skating off the ice, leaving everyone to wonder if he would be able to start the next game.
Friday the 24th started the Grizzlies’ Fight Cancer weekend, and fans were pleasantly surprised to see Parik beginning the second game of this series. 6,941 people came out to show their support for both the boys and the Fight Cancer event.
The game started with a bang! Just 5:12 into the first period, Grizzlies’ Jordan Martel scored the game’s first goal. We were all on the edge of our seats for the rest of the first period as the Grizzlies battled hard to keep their lead. Despite their determination, Americans made it on the board when Grant Herbert scored at 19:10, and the first period ended in a 1-1 tie.
As the second period started, both teams were focused and ready to be the first to take the lead. At just 57 seconds in, Chase Perry got a rare goaltender behind center penalty, followed closely by Keaton Jameson, who went in for tripping. This set the game at a 4v4 match, and Americans’ Hank Crone was able to score at 1:13 breaking the tie. Soon after, Aiden Brown followed up with another goal at 3:29, giving Americans a 3-1 lead.
Grizzlies’ Dakota Raabe came back at 4:27 and found the top left corner of the net – proving that the Grizz were still in a position to make a comeback. The Grizzlies didn’t let up and tried to find ways to tie the game, but the Americans maintained their lead.
At 7:55, Parik was given a tripping penalty setting up the Americans for a power play that they did not waste. Colton Saucerman made a power play goal at 9:45. Then, just 2 minutes later, Colton Hargrove scored another goal at 11:12. Refs reviewed Hargrove’s goal to ensure there was no goalie interference. Still, they gave it to the Americans, setting a more significant lead for them of 5-2.
Despite the lead, Grizzlies didn’t give up, and their efforts paid off at 19:29 when Tarun Fizer was able to score, ending the second period at 5-3. As the third period starts, it’s evident that the Grizzlies want to win to keep their spot in the playoffs. But at 6:06 into the period, Americans’ Liam Finlay scored a short-handed goal setting their lead at 6-3. The Grizzlies need to find a way to control the game, and they’re given a chance to do that when Chad Butcher is put in the box with Colton Hargrove, setting the Grizz up for a 5v3 power play. However, they are not able to deliver in a couple of seconds. They had the 2-man up advantage.
The Grizzlies are given another chance, and James Shearer scored a power-play goal at 8:27, setting the new score at 6-4. The Grizzlies seemed out of energy and couldn’t keep up with the pace set by the Americans. Despite this, James Shearer can score his second goal of the night and set the Grizz up for a potential comeback at just 6-5.
Unfortunately, Americans’ Hank Crone scored their 7th goal, and soon after, Stefan Fournier followed up with their 8th goal and finalized the game at 8-5. The Grizzlies were given a small window of opportunity when Ryan Gagnon was given a tripping penalty (minor) at 18:33 into the third. The grizzlies used this power play to score, but after review by the refs, they called the goal invalid without an explanation, and the game ended in a win for the Americans at 8-5.
Saturday the 25th was the last day of the series. This game would determine the Mountain Division team positions. The Grizzlies were again the first ones to be on the board when at 5:01 into the first period, Christian Simeone scored after a great show of the Grizzlies’ passing skills. Dakota Raabe and Americans Colton Saucerman got into an altercation over a play. Saucerman was in Dakota’s face and signaling for him to drop the gloves, but Dakota decided he didn’t want any part of it. However, Colby Mcauley didn’t let him off so quickly and gave Dakota a push. Both players were put in the box for roughing.
The Grizzlies started the second period strong, but at 9 minutes in, Americans’ Jack Combs scored their first goal, and the rest of the game went downhill for the Grizz. The grizzlies almost had a goal when the puck went through Luke Peressini’s knee pads but only made it through the crease and never passed the line. Connor McDonald motivated players on the ice and pushed Dakota Raabe to score the Grizzly’s second goal at 13:1,5. Vladislav Mikhalchuk followed up during a power play soon after and set the Grizzs’ ’s lead at 3-0.
Tyler Penner was given a penalty at 10:20, and Americans took advantage of this power play. Just 10 seconds into it, Colton Hargrove made a power play goal and set the new score at 3-2. Grizzlies still had the lead, but Americans took advantage of every opportunity. Parik tried to grab the puck from an Allen player, but instead, he ended up giving Hank Crone a chance to score and tie the game at 11:55. And just a few minutes later, at 13:34, Chad Butcher scored, giving Americans the new lead of 4-3.
The third period was a tough one for the Grizzlies. They seemed tired and disorganized and were making a lot of incomplete passes, which gave the Americans a lot of breakaways. At 8:51 into the 3rd period, Mikael Robidoux scored, creating a more significant lead of 5-3 for the Americans. Parik held off the Americans for the rest of the game, but Ryan Kinasewich chose with 1:19 left to take Parik out and put an extra player on the ice. But instead of working in the Grizzlies’ favor, Jake Combs would score on the empty net with just 50.6 seconds left, giving Americans the final winning score of 6-3.
It was a disappointing game after the Grizzlies started so strong and maintained a 3-0 lead in the first period. But ultimately, the Allen/Utah series ended at 2-1 for Allen.
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