The Utah Grizzlies played two games this week (October 21st and 22nd), both away against the Idaho Steelheads. The teams split the games, with Idaho winning 8-4 in the first game, and Utah winning 6-5 the next night.
It was not a good week for the Ducks prospects. Kenton Helgeson was scratched for both games, and Kevin Boyle was the starter in the 8-4 debacle.
The Grizzlies did not get off to an auspicious start in their first away game of the season, battled back to a tie at the end of the second, and then had the wheels come well and truly off in the final three minutes. With the Grizzlies down 5-4, the Steelheads scored just 20 seconds after the 5-4 goal, and then again a few minutes later into an empty net. The final goal of the night came right off a defensive-zone draw and a rebound that the Grizzlies had no chance of clearing before it was in the back of the net.
To be fair to Boyle, the final score was far from being entirely his fault. The Grizzlies came out pretty flat to start the game against a fired up Idaho squad, intent on ending their streak of four straight losses to the Grizzlies (two in pre-season, and two in the regular season).
After battling so hard to tie the game up at the end of the second, it was disheartening to lose by such a wide margin, but the Grizzlies clearly weren’t on their game all night. They had issues in transition, and their defensive coverage – such a strength in the first two games of the year – was weak, most especially in the first period, but also throughout the game in general.
On quite a number of goals, they left their rookie netminder to fend for himself, whether due to lost edges, or sloppy defensive play. As a result, Boyle was often left to his own devices and he struggled mightily, giving up seven goals on 32 shots.
On the plus side, Boyle generally recovered well after each goal, and while he was certainly not happy about the outing (banging his stick angrily against the crossbar after the fifth goal), he didn’t look rattled.
The Grizzlies bounced back (more or less) the next night, and it’s probably pretty safe to say that Boyle will also bounce back in his next start, which will likely happen in the game on either Friday or Saturday at home against the Colorado Eagles.