West Valley City • The Utah Grizzlies entered Friday night's contest against the Adirondack Thunder averaging 34 shots on goal, good enough for fourth in the ECHL. The Thunder, conversely, are among the league leaders in limiting the number of shots on goal.
Something had to give.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, it was the Thunder that flexed their defensive muscles. By limiting Utah to 25 shots, and only 13 in the final two periods, it was Adirondack that prevailed, 2-1.
"That's a very good team and their defense put a lot of pressure on us, and we didn't put enough pressure on them and that was the difference," Utah coach Tim Branham said. "At the same time it felt like the puck wasn't bouncing our way tonight and when it doesn't, you have to fight that much harder."
The second period belonged entirely to Adirondack. Two nifty goals were scored in the first five minutes by Stepan Falkovsky and Peter MacArthur, both of which occurred after each player deked goalie Kevin Boyle to one side and slid the puck into the exposed net.
Utah was presented with a trio of power play opportunities during the period but was unable to take advantage of any of them. Adirondack, playing stifling defense, held the Grizzlies to a meager six shots on goal.
Following 20 minutes of play, the Grizzlies had captured a 1-0 lead as Mathieu Aubin redirected a shot from Jon Puskar that glanced off the skate of Thunder goalie Ken Appleby.
At the time the goal seemed to be a good omen as Utah, until then, had an unblemished 4-0 record when leading after one period.
After an opening-night win against the Idaho Steelheads, Boyle had been struggling, losing three consecutive starts.
However, Boyle played extremely well, stopping 30 of 32 shots and doing everything he could to keep the Grizzlies in the game.
"Boyle is a competitor and we knew that when we signed him and tonight he responded," Branham said. "He's going to be a top goalie in this league and he made some big saves for us tonight."