WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies (0-2-0-0) fell to the defending Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles (2-0-0-0) 2-1 in their home opener on Saturday at the Maverik Center in front of 7,362 fans. Utah lost its second straight game to open the season, the first time since 2007 that the Grizzlies have opened a campaign with two losses.
“We’ve been having a hard time scoring goals this season, and I’m not too worried about that. We’ve got some good players on this team that know how to score, so I think it’s only a matter of time,” Grizzlies head coach Tim Branham said.
Utah rookie goalkeeper Angus Redmond made his professional debut on Saturday, stopping 25 of 27 shots.
“I wanted to make sure that we improved defensively from yesterday to today, and I think we did. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but they (Colorado) had six power plays, and they were one of the best power players in the league last year.”
Drayson Bowman and Collin Bowman scored goals in the first and third periods, respectively, for Colorado. Utah defenseman Taylor Richart put the puck in the back of the net in the second period.
Branham praised his team’s power play defense, which didn’t allow a power play goal.
“For our penalty kill to do the job that it did, especially that five-on-three, was really good. I thought Redmond was great,” Branham said.
Utah has scored three times in two games, but the season is just beginning, and Branham isn’t ready to “hit the panic button on the goal scoring.”
“We had (a goal) by a defenseman today, none of our forwards contributed (to the goal scoring), but it’ll come. We have a lot of new pieces, up front especially, so it’ll take some time to get some chemistry,” Branham said.
Colorado outshot Utah 14-8 in the first period and went on the offensive toward the end of the period, outshooting the Grizzlies 7-1 from the 14-minute mark on. With one minute left in the first period, the Eagles broke through on a Drayson Bowman goal, assisted by Matt Garbowsky and Michael Joly. Bowman slotted the shot past Redmond.
The Grizzlies came out of the locker room ready to go in the second period. Just 90 seconds into the second period, Kyle Thomas’s shot bounced off Eagle goalkeeper Joe Cannata and Taylor Richart capitalized with a goal, his first of the season, to tie the game 1-1. Kyle Thomas and Brad Navin were credited with assists, both firsts of the season.
At the end of the second period, the Grizzlies racked up four minutes of penalty box time after holding and tripping minors from Richart and James Melindy, but the Utah defense held strong, denying Colorado a power-play goal.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the third period, Colorado scored its second goal of the evening when Collin Bowman shot from long-range and pushed the puck past Redmond to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.