Utah Grizzlies Earn Comeback Victory Behind Boucher Hat-Trick and Stellar Goaltending


Utah Grizzlies in a game versus the Allen Americans, Saturday, Mar. 13, 2021. (The Daily Utah Chronicle/Photo by Kevin Cody)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


Despite trailing early 0-2, the Grizzlies rallied back behind excellent goaltending and a hat-trick courtesy of Matt Boucher to complete the comeback and win 4-2.

First Period

The Utah Grizzlies welcomed the Tulsa Oilers to Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, and the action started right from the puck-drop. Over the first few minutes of play, Utah possessed the puck well in the offensive zone, creating multiple chances. On one offensive rush led by Ty Lewis, Oilers defenseman Garret Cockerill took a nasty spill into the boards headfirst. After laying there for a minute, Cockerill would be helped to his feet and taken off the ice.

Following the injury, the Grizzlies would continue to press the Oilers in their own end, hitting the post twice in under 30 seconds, much to the relief of the Oilers’ goaltender, Devin Williams. Despite failing to put one in the net, the Grizzlies led the game in shots through the first five minutes, 3-0.

The first power play of the night would be awarded to the Grizzlies as Oilers center Matt Lane would serve two minutes for slashing. On the power play, Utah would come up empty despite possessing the puck inside the Oilers’ zone for the majority of the man advantage and generating some quality opportunities, including a shot off the crossbar by Lewis. 

With 13:12 left in the period, Grizzlies forward Cedric Pare would go to the box for two minutes for tripping. While on the man advantage, Tulsa struggled to generate opportunities, getting only one shot on net that was turned away by goaltender Trevor Gorsuch. 

Midway through the period, both goalies were still perfect and Gorsuch was brilliant as he faced the more threatening chances of the period, including a shot from the slot that he turned away with a remarkable kick-save. 

As play continued, another penalty would be called on the Grizzlies as Utah forward Pat Cannone would sit for four minutes, guilty of high-sticking double-minor. On a power play, Tulsa broke open the scoring as Adam Pleskach sniped Gorsuch from the point, giving Tulsa a 1-0 lead with 4:09 remaining in the first period. The goal was assisted by Brent Gates and Gregg Burmaster. 

In the final two minutes, the Grizzlies would again go on the power play as Lane would serve two minutes for hooking. Just 26 second into the power play, the Oilers would commit another penalty as Justin Hamonic would flip the puck over the boards for a delay of game. Utah would have a five-on-three advantage for the remainder of the period. 

Unfortunately, despite having a two-man-advantage, the Grizzlies couldn’t capitalize and the period would end with the Oilers leading 1-0. 

Second Period

To begin the middle period, the Grizzlies would still be on the man advantage for 25 seconds, however, Utah didn’t even enter the Oilers’ zone and Tulsa would resume full strength. 

Nearly midway through the period, Utah was forced to take a timeout as the Oilers dominated possession, maintaining the puck inside the Grizzlies’ zone for nearly two minutes. Lucky for Utah, Gorsuch brought his A-game as he stopped four high-quality opportunities during that stretch. 

Tensions were high on the bench as head coach Tim Branham was visibly frustrated while conversing with defenseman Brandon Fehd. The two seemed to be in disagreement over a play from the previous series, as the momentum was clearly with Tulsa.

With a little more than 10 minutes left in the second, Utah defenseman Hunter Skinner would make his way to the penalty box for two minutes, guilty of slashing. Despite committing the penalty, the Grizzlies would kill it off, not allowing a single shot on goal. 

With five minutes to go, the Grizzlies would commit a costly turnover, giving the Oilers a two-on-one opportunity. After making the initial kick-save, Gorsuch somehow kicked out his leg on a rebound, saving a would-be-goal. The magnificent effort would receive a standing ovation from the crowd. 

Shortly thereafter, the Grizzlies would give up another odd-man-rush, but this time on a three-on-one: Tulsa forward Pleskach would snipe Gorsuch over the right shoulder for his second goal of the game, giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the second. The goal was assisted by Alex Brooks.

But finally, after 22 shots on goal, the Grizzlies would get one past Williams as Lewis centered a pass right to the slot from behind the net to Matt Hoover, who one-timed it over the left shoulder of Williams. The goal was also assisted by Pare and the Grizzlies trailed 2-1 with less than three minutes to go in the second.

In the final minute of the period, Tulsa defender Mike McKee would commit a slash and head to the box for two minutes. However, the period would end with the Grizzlies still trailing 2-1. 

Third Period

The Grizzlies would yet again begin a period on the power play, as Mike McKee still had to serve over a minute in the sin-bin. But just as before, another Grizzlies man-advantage would go scoreless as Utah failed to create a single shot.

Despite coming up short on the power play, the Grizzlies would cash in just a few minutes later on a gorgeous shot by Boucher over the left shoulder of Williams, tying the game at two apiece with just over 17 minutes left in the game. The goal was Boucher’s 12th of the season (team-high) and was assisted by Trey Bradley and Cannone. 

Gorsuch continued to keep his team in the game, stopping shot after shot that came his way. Midway through the period, the puck found the stick of an Oiler forward right in the slot, but Gorsuch wasn’t about to be beaten as he went horizontal to the ice, stacking his pads and making the acrobatic save. The effort would receive yet another standing ovation from the Maverik Center crowd. 

Just a minute later, Utah forward Cannone would sit in the box for two minutes for slashing, giving the Oilers yet another man advantage. While the Grizzlies would kill off the power play shortly thereafter, Utah defenseman Ryan Lowney would commit a delay of game penalty and put the Oilers right back on the power play. Fortunately, Utah stood tall, defeating both penalties and resuming full-strength with a little over five minutes left in regulation. 

Following the consecutive Utah penalties, Tulsa forward Darby Llewellyn would head to the box for two minutes after committing a holding penalty. While the power play couldn’t have come at a better time, Tulsa defeated the man advantage thanks to stellar net-minding by Williams.

On a turnover in the neutral zone, the Grizzlies would advance the puck on a two-on-one opportunity led by Hoover who saucer-passed it over to Boucher who one-timed it home, giving Utah a 3-2 advantage with less than two minutes remaining. The goal was also assisted by Jack Jenkins. 

Just seconds later, after another turnover in the neutral zone, Boucher would fling it into the empty net, increasing the lead to 4-2 and completing a hat-trick. 

While the game was closely contested throughout the majority of play, the Grizzlies came up big down to the wire and walked away with a 4-2 victory in the first of a four-game series.

Performance of the Game

While the performance of the game easily could’ve gone to stonewall Gorsuch, when a player records a hat trick like Boucher did, it’s hard not to give it to them. Recording three goals on four shots, Boucher was locked in as he continually found the back of the net and propelled Utah to the victory. Boucher also finished the night +2 while on the ice, only conceding one goal.

Between the Pipes: Goalie Report

As previously mentioned, Gorsuch was absolutely magnificent tonight, as he undoubtedly kept Utah in the game. In several instances, Tulsa easily could’ve gone ahead, but Gorsuch stoned the Oilers cold when it mattered most. He finished the night with 32 saves on 34 shots (94%).

Tulsa goaltender Williams was also remarkable, saving 30 shots on 33 attempts (90%). He too kept the game close but succumbed to the hat-trick-wizardry of Boucher.

A Look Ahead

With the victory, the Grizzlies improve to 16-12-4-5 on the season. They will continue to face Tulsa all weekend as they host the Oilers Friday, March 26 at 7:10 p.m. MST, Saturday, March 27 at 7:10 p.m. MST and Sunday, March 28 at 1:10 p.m. MST.


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