ECHL: UTAH GRIZZLIES SWEEP KC MAVERICKS

3/10/23 marked the first game of the Utah Grizzlies vs. KC Mavericks weekend series. The Grizzlies needed all six points from this series against the 2nd place team to have a chance at getting into the playoffs.

Fans cheered excitedly as Johnny Walker skated onto the ice, returning from his second injured reserve stint. The game got off to a good start as Grizzlies gained a power play just two minutes into the game, but they couldn’t capitalize on it. Nothing would happen until 12:57 into the 1st when Grizzlies Captain, Connor McDonald, took a chance on a slap shot and scored the series’ first goal. With the early lead supporting them, Grizzlies kept the pressure on the Mavericks.

Both teams came into the 2nd period ready for a fight. They matched each other in passing skill and coverage of zones. Neither team let in a shot on goal. Parik was especially impressive, making several amazing saves, and the 2nd period ended the same way as the 1st – 1-0 for the Grizzlies.

8:58 into the 3rd period, Maverick’s Hugo Roy will score their first goal of the game. Grizzlies players and fans alike were upset because the goal was counted despite the net being dislodged. But Grizzlies would quickly recover from this blatant mistake, and Cameron Wright would score the winning goal at 14:24 into the 3rd, giving them the lead in this series.

Saturday

Saturday Night was the Grizzlies’ affiliate night, and Lord Stanley was in the building! Thousands of fans came out to see the Stanley cup and take pictures with it before the 2nd game of this series started. Grizzlies added to the enthusiasm when Cam Strong scored the game’s first goal at 9:13 in. But shortly after, Hugo Roy would tie up the game. Grizzlies’ Keaton Jameson would go into the box for tripping (minor) at 12:11 into the 1st, and Pascal Laberge would take advantage and score a power-play goal 8 seconds later. Keaton Jameson would make up for his penalty and tie the game at 12:33 in. The 1st period would end in a tie of 2-2.

The grizzlies would come out a little too aggressive in the 2nd period, desperate to take back the lead. Connor McDonald was given a slashing penalty (minor) to Maverick’s Nick Pastujov a chance to score a power play at 8:50 in. Zack Tsekos was given a hooking penalty (minor) at 9:48 in, and Nick Pastujov would capitalize again, scoring his 2nd power-play goal of the night and securing a 4-2 lead for the Mavericks.

Both teams started with intensity, but it wasn’t until 11:02 into the 3rd period that Cameron Wright could finally make something happen and score the Grizzlies’ 3rd goal. Pascal Laberge would wind up with a roughing penalty (minor) at 13:52, and the Grizzlies seized their opportunity to catch up. At 15:28 in, Tarun Fizer tied the score at 4-4 and pushed the game into OT.

Nobody would score during OT, and both teams moved on to the shootout. Tshootoutout went eight rounds before Dakota Raabe would finally score, giving Trent Minor a chance to win the game for Grizzlies when he saved the 8th shot from Joshua Lammon. Grizzlies won the game with an official score of 5-4 and took a 2/3 winning lead in this 3-game series.

Sunday

Sunday, 3/12/23, saw the start of the 3rd and final game in this Grizzlies vs. Mavericks series. The grizzlies were again the first on the board when Dakota Raabe scored at 4:35 in. Mavericks couldn’t tie up the game, and the period ended at 1-0 for the Grizz.

Kyle Pouncy showed up for Grizzlies and scored a fast goal at just 3:23 into the 2nd period. But just one minute later, Maverick’s Loren Ulett would score their first goal of the game. Maverick’s fought hard to find that 2nd goal and tie up the game. Eventually, Jake McLaughlin would do just that at 14:28 in, and the 2nd period would end in a 2-2 tie.

It was anyone’s game, and tempers ran hot at the beginning of the 3rd period. Loren Ulett would get a cross-checking penalty (major) at 4:26 in. Loren Ulett would later be given disciplinary action in the form of a two-game suspension and a fine for the hit. The Grizzlies would use this power play advantage, and Tarun Fizer scored the game-winning goal at just 4:32 into the 3rd period. Grizzlies won the 3rd game, 3-2.

The series concluded with a 3/3 game sweep for the Grizzlies, giving them the 6 points they needed to have a chance at the playoffs. They also advanced in the Mountain Division from 5th place to tie it up with Wichita Thunder for 3rd place. Currently, The Grizzlies are only a point away from tying it up for 2nd with Kansas City, so if they keep up this momentum, they’ll easily be able to secure that 2nd place spot.

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