Commencing a season-long seven game homestand, the Utah Grizzlies started things off on the wrong foot. Despite possessing a 2-1 lead against the Fort Wayne Komets, the visitors rebounded to collect a 4-2 win.
The difference in the game amounted to power plays. Utah was unable to take advantage of five opportunites, whereas Fort Wayne recorded the game winner on a blistering shot off the stick of Ryan Culkin.
Arguably the Grizzlies MVP last year, Ralph Cuddemi presently dons a Komets jersey and showed Utah what they’re missing, scoring the game’s first goal for Fort Wayne. The Komets also recorded goals by Garrett Thompson and an empty netter by Jamie Schaafsma.
Turning point • Unable to cash in on a pair of power plays at the end of the second period and beginning of the third, the Komets made Utah pay the price. Fort Wayne forward Ryan Culkin rifled a puck past Grizzlies goalie Kevin Carr to secure a 3-2 lead for Fort Wayne in the third period.
First star • Forward Ryan Misiak positioned himself perfectly in front of the net, received a beautiful pass from Brendan Harms and stuffed the puck into the back of the net to get the Grizzlies on the board.
Second star • When Komets goalie Michael Houser failed to secure a puck, Grizzlies forward Ryan Olsen made him pay the price, firing a top shelf goal to garner a 2-1 lead for Utah.
Third star • Ryan Culkin also assisted on Cuddemi’s goal in the first period.
Quoteworthy • “Special teams was the difference tonight,” Grizzlies coach Tim Branham said. “We had a few good looks but were unable to cash in. We’re missing some of our key scorers and in times like these you need to rely on your power play and unfortunately we were unsuccessful.”
What’s Next • The Grizzlies host Fort Wayne again at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Maverik Center.