Grizzlies Insider Adam Turner on 4-3 Loss to Rapid City
It's been quite some time since the Utah Grizzlies have been healthy enough that the team has had the luxury of scratching able-bodied players from the roster. With the emergence Thursday of J.T. Henke and Jack Walker, Austin Carroll returned to the lineup Monday night. Everything was set for the home team to clinch its 11th playoff berth in the last 12 seasons. The visiting Rapid City Rush, in particular Alex Rauter and Tyler Poulsen, failed to get the memo. Each player had a pair of goals as Rapid City took two of three games from the Grizzlies in the series, winning 4-3. But with Carroll back, the Grizzlies look more and more like the team that skated in the first half of the season.
"Austin had an amazing game and played really well," head coach Tim Branham said. "He controlled the play and cycled in the zone and made good puck decisions."
Along with a healthy roster, the power play has reemerged as a potent threat in Utah's arsenal. All three Grizzlie goals came courtesy of the man advantage. Caleb Herbert reached an amazing plateau with his 30th goal of the year, Turner Ottenbreit followed that up with his signature pulverizing slapshot and Jack Walker slid across the ice from right to left and scorched the back of the net.
"We're getting some guys back from injury and we have more grit and depth and I think we're going to turn the corner as we head toward the playoffs and get some momentum," Herbert said. "We had a dry spell there so we got back to the basics like puck retrieval and passing."
Cole Ully was involved in two key plays in the first period. He appeared to score the first goal of the contest but the shot was waved off due to goalie interference. Moments later, Ully had an unfortunate turnover and what appeared to be a Utah goal on the other end instead turned into Rauter's first of the night. Needless to say, it was a controversial call that changed the direction of the contest.
"We should have had four power play goals and if he counts that goal they don't get their shorthanded goal," Branham said. "When you're playing against a team that works hard and has an extremely good goaltender, things get magnified. And when the referees dictate the outcome of the game, it makes things tough."
The Grizzlies will next travel to visit the Allen as Utah will have several opportunities against the Americans to claim its playoff spot.
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