The Utah Grizzlies hosted the Newfoundland Growlers in the first game of a 3-game set at the Maverik Center as Trent Miner for Utah and Luke Cavallin for the Growlers got the start in goal. Some very notable scratches in this game were Todd Skirving and James Melindy for the Growlers, and Dylan Fitze of Utah was also scratched.
The action started out slowly, but things started getting going after the first couple of whistles. The Growlers got their best chance of the game as Jonny Tychonick hit the post with 17:42 left. Just a couple of minutes later, Adam Dawe hit the post. After those posts, the Growlers and the Grizzlies exchanged shots as, with about 13:30 left, Grizzlies forward Cole Gallant skated in and deked around the defense. However, it was Cavallin finding the puck. Issac Johnson then got a shot from the right circle that Miner found after a couple of bounces.
The game finally broke open as the Grizzlies caught the Growlers back line sleeping as it was Dakota Raabe poked it ahead to Jordan Martel who got in on a breakaway, sniping it top shelf over the shoulder of Cavallin. The Grizzlies then got all the momentum as just 53 seconds later; it was Brett Stapley deflecting a shot from Cory Thomas that was taken from the top of the zone at the blue line. The teams got a little physical with 7:30 left, which resulted in a couple of penalties, as with 6:12 left, Jacob Modry got a minor for holding. That power-play didn’t last long as it was Josh Wesley getting an interference minor right off the draw just two seconds later. The last good chance of the period came with about 3:30 left as Miner saved a mini breakaway chance from Grant Cruikshank.
Despite having 1:57 on the Power play to start the 2nd, it was a slow start to the period for the Grizzlies as the Growlers stole the early momentum, as it was Neil Shea who got a slap shot from the top of the left circle 1:08 into the middle frame. The pressure would continue as it was Isaac Johnson for the Growlers who intercepted the Grizzlies breakout attempt and Johnson was able to get in on a breakaway and sneak it just past Miner, putting the Growlers on the board.
It was a little slow for a little bit until the Grizzlies restored their two-goal lead as captain Josh Wesley got his second of the year as he skated into the slot with loads of time and did a nice toe drag to position his shot which went into the top shelf past Cavallin with 14:53 left. Josh Victor got a nice shot from the left circle with 12:41 left as, despite traffic, Miner saw the puck all the way. Victor took exception as he laid a few dangerous and apparently clean hits on a couple of Utah players. After a few minutes of very physical action, Wesley laid a heavy hit on Tyler Weiss, and then Weiss retaliated and pushed Wesley; the ref said that’s enough, as Weiss got a roughing minor with 9:53 left, and then it was Tychonick getting a cross-check penalty just a minute later, giving the Grizzlies a 5-on-3 power play for a minute. Utah took their one timeout at the time, knowing how important some insurance is. Utah got their best chance of the two-man advantage as Wesley got a huge slap shot from the left dot with 8:16 left, getting stopped by Cavallin; the Growlers would go on and kill the penalties off.
There wasn’t much action until, with 2:39 left in the middle frame, it was fan favorite Brandon Cutler who took the puck from Nolan Dillingham and fed the puck to Raabe, who was in the slot and put the puck through the five-hole of Cavallin. Utah would then take a three-goal lead into the third.
Semik got an interference minor just 89 seconds into the final frame as the Growlers tried to reduce the lead. Zach O’Brien got a great chance as he got a pass into the slot and shot it, but Miner got up to the task and the puck was cleared late into the penalty kill as the Growlers couldn’t convert on the early power play. With 15 minutes left, a point blank-save and rebound were also saved. Mick Messner and Tychonick were holding each other for a few seconds with 1415 left. The Growlers skated into the zone. However, it was Semik getting his second penalty of the period for tripping the Growlers’ skater with 13:39 left, giving Newfoundland another power play. The Growlers were able to set up a couple of times but couldn’t get any shots on the power play.
The game got very physical near the midpoint of the period. With 10:34 left, Weiss slashed Raabe, and a slight scuffle ensued, resulting in a Grizzlies power play. Nathan Burke got a couple of good shots as he was set up in the right circle, and it was the defense and goaltender up to the task of blocking the shots as the Growlers killed the penalty off. Keoni Texeira and Tate Singleton got into a pushing match right after the whistle after a minor save on Brock Caufield with 6:35 left. Both players got coincidental minors. Growlers played riskily and pulled Cavallin with 3:50 left. The Growlers got some good chances as they pressured in the zone for 80 seconds or so until the Grizzlies were able to ice the puck a couple of times. It was Messner, Bryan Yoon, Stapley, Gallant, and Thomas who were on the ice for a shift time of about 3:30 for the defense, preventing a goal for the Growlers. The Grizzlies would go on to win the game 4-1 final in front of a decent Wednesday crowd of 3,863.
You could have given the three stars to any of the Grizzlies, including the five that were on the ice for unofficially one of the longest shifts in hockey. Miner saved 29 shots out of 30 for Utah. On the other hand, it was a rough night between the pipes for Luke Cavallin, who allowed four goals on just 13 shots.
The two teams face off against each other again at 7:10 pm on Friday Night.