In Friday night’s contest between the Utah Grizzlies and Wichita Thunder when the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard flashed 49 to 12. It reflected shots on goal and it was Utah that was in possession of the 49. If it wasn’t for the solid play of Thunder goalie Mitch Gillam, the stat that ultimately matters, goals, should have been more lopsided than it actually was. Nevertheless, in as dominating a performance in recent history by one team against the other as one can recall, Utah winded up decimating the hapless Thunder, 4-1.
“What a complete game by our team,” head coach Tim Branham said. “We were able to put the puck in the back of the net and find a way to win and these points are huge. I’m proud of the way we managed the game with allowing just three shots in the first, four in the second, and five in the third. That’s pretty complete.”
An unfortunate turnover aside that led to a Wichita goal by Nolan Vesey to give the Thunder an early 1-0 lead, the rest of the contest was dominated by Utah as the Grizzlies tallied four unanswered goals. Playing the game almost from buzzer to buzzer in Wichita’s defensive zone, Utah was finally awarded for its offensive pressure when Mitch Maxwell deposited a juicy rebound to tie the contest at 1-1.
Utah continued its dominance in the second period when defenseman Eric Williams made a nifty play skating behind the net and then flipping the puck past Gillam to provide the Grizzlies with their first lead of the night, 2-1. Tim McGauley would provide some insurance when he blistered a rebound for a 3-1 lead. Even Sasha Laroque got in on the fun, scoring his first professional goal to complete the scoring.
“Everybody has bought into the system and we were smart with the puck all over the ice,” Williams said. “Everyone is being responsible defensively and it’s paying off. It’s good to see other people step up in our offense and all three lines are contributing. Our team has a lot of speed and if we play responsible hockey we’re very dangerous.”
The Grizzlies will look to pick up right where they left off for Saturday’s contest, which figures to be one of the biggest crowds of the season as Utah hosts its’ annual Guns N’ Hoses night.
“It should be a big night and a big crowd so we need to come out with the same intensity tomorrow,” Branham said.