Game two of the young season for the Utah Grizzlies against it nemesis, the Idaho Steelheads, followed an eerily similar script to Friday night’s 3-2 defeat. As was the case in the opening contest, Utah surrendered an early 2-0 lead in the first period and the deficit once again proved too difficult to overcome. This time the Grizzlies bowed out to Idaho 3-1 as the visitors leave with a perfect slate just two games into the year. The Grizzlies largely outplayed Idaho in the final two periods, but ultimately dug itself into too deep of a hole early on.
“The same script as last night and the first period was terrible,” head coach Tim Branham said. The second was fabulous until we had one turnover, one shot, goal. And that’s what happens if you think its going to be easy. This league has good teams and will eat you up. That’s a good team over there. But I thought we did some good things. We had that fire in our gut in the second and third period and we need to have that fire from the moment the puck is dropped.”
Staring down at a three goal deficit as the third period was underway, Travis Barron was awarded with a goal that took a fortunate bounce for the home team off the back of an Idaho defenseman to provide the Grizzlies with life. Unfortunately for the home team, however, that was the only offense Utah was able to muster.
In the first period, the Steelheads took advantage of not one but two juicy rebounds surrendered by Grizzlie goalie Mason McDonald, who was making his season debut for the home team. After 20 minutes were in the books, Idaho once again outshot Utah by a nearly two to one ratio: 17 to 9, as Brett Supinski and Joe Basaraba each found the back of the net.
Although Utah fought hard and played with determination, eventually catching up to and exceeding Idaho in shots attempted, it didn’t translate into results as Steelhead goalie Tomas Sholl for the second straight evening demonstrated why he’s one of the elite goaltenders in the league, shutting out Utah for the initial 40 minutes. For the most part, the home team outplayed the visitors in the session but an ill advised turnover deep in their defensive zone cost the Grizzlies as Idaho’s Spencer Naas buried a chance to give the Steelheads a commanding 3-0 lead.
“He was their number one star,” Branham said, referring to Sholl. “That’s an elite goalie that is always one of the best in the league and he proved that again both games.”