West Valley, UT (Jan. 15th) - In their first-ever meeting on Friday night, Wichita (9-23-1-4) couldn't overcome a quick start from Utah (21-13-2-0) and lost by the final score of 7-3 at the Maverik Center. The Grizzlies jumped out a three-goal cushion before the Thunder got on the board.
Andy Huff had a pair of goals to lead the Thunder while Christian Isackson added his fifth of the season.
Special teams dominated the outcome as the two teams combined for 14 power plays. Barry Almeida put the Grizzlies on the board three minutes into the contest on the man advantage, taking a bounce off the end wall and slid it past David Shantz. He added his second of the period at 6:45 after Shantz tried to come out of the net to play a dump-in and he found the net to make it 2-0. At 10:30, Utah tacked on another from Roberts Lipsbergs during a scramble in front of the net.
In the second, Isackson appeared to score during a delayed penalty but the goal was waived off as Ian Lowe was knocked into Ryan Faragher. Wichita went on the man advantage and this time, Isackson found the net at 1:08 and cut the lead to 3-1. The Grizzlies answered two minutes later during a five-on-three power play as T.J. Syner redirected a pass from Alex Krushelnyski past Shantz. Andy Huff buried a wrist shot from the left circle at 8:22 to make it 4-2. Utah upped the lead once again as Josh Macdonald recorded his first of two at 10:20 on the power play.
Utah continued to find an answer for the Thunder down the stretch, outscoring Wichita 2-1 in the final frame. Macdonald netted his second of the night on a breakaway at 4:11 to make it 6-2. Huff potted his second of the game at 12:07 that made it 6-3. Charles Sarault closed the scoring at 14:13 with his eighth of the season.
Huff had his second two-goal outing of the season. Kenton Miller added an assist, giving him helpers in three-straight games. Lowe also added a helper, giving him points in four of the last five games (1g, 4). Shantz suffers the loss, stopping 24 of 31 shots. Faragher claims his 16 win of the season, stopping 18 of 21 shots he faced.
Wichita went 1-for-6 on the man advantage and has power play goals in five-straight games. Utah went 3-for-8.
The Thunder remains in Utah tomorrow night to face the Grizzlies starting at 8:05 p.m. CST.
Individual tickets for all games are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the INTRUST Arena Box office, by calling 855-755-SEAT or go online at www.selectaseat.com.
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About the ECHL
The ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 541 players who have started their career in the ECHL have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 29 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.