FRIDAY – AMARILLO 4, Colorado 3

Apr 5, 2024

Defenseman Braden Junker’s 1st career goal highlighted a fast start although the Grit’s comeback effort came up just short on Friday night as Colorado fell in Amarillo 4-3.

The Grit stormed out to a fast start behind a pair of early tallies. Colorado went to the power play just ninety seconds into the first period and promptly converted. Center Landon West found space in the high slot and pumped a wrist shot past Amarillo goaltender Connor McDonough to push the Grit ahead, 1-0, 2:25 into the period.

Rapid fire offense from defenseman Braden Junker doubled the Colorado lead, 2-0, only 24 seconds later. The defenseman’s first career goal came on a seeing-eye shot from the right point to beat McDonough. Grit goaltender Jack Erickson nabbed 14 of his 25 saves to help Colorado carry the 2-0 lead into the intermission.

The Wranglers struck back quickly in the second period through winger Jack McDonald to get the home side on the scoreboard, 2-1, 1:37 into the second period. The wrist shot from the bottom of the wing circle marked the only shot to beat Erickson through 40 minutes. Colorado weathered a late surge in the final two minutes of the second period and retained their one goal advantage into the second intermission.

For the third period running, scoring carried the day in the period’s opening minutes. Wrangler forward Magnus Gadowsky found freedom on the left post and punched a cross-crease pass into the back of the net to tie The game, 2-2, with 17:25 remaining in the frame. 

The scoreline stayed tied until a Jack Ivey one-timer slapshot from the top of the right circle was powered past Erickson to give Amarillo their first lead of the night, 3-2, with 13:00 left in regulation.

The Grit kept battling and found an equalizer, thanks to outstanding hustle and a deft scoring touch from the third line. In order to clear the defensive zone, Grit forward Peyton Miller batted the puck around a Wrangler defenseman and chased it the length of the ice. Meanwhile, rookie Sheldon Rioux glided into the slot alongside Miller, who connected with a diving pass for a Rioux redirection. The second goal of the season for Rioux knotted the score once again, 3-3, with 5:10 remaining in the third period.

A heated exchange on the boards in between the two benches between Noah Grolnic and Amarillo forward Roman Zap escalated to a brawl, with both players trading punches and being sent to the dressing room early for fighting majors. At the end of the fracas, Grolnic was assessed an additional roughing minor and Amarillo took to the power play for the second time in the game with only 3:20 remaining. Ben Ivey made the man advantage count when he pumped a slap shot over Erickson’s blocker and into the back of the net to give the home side the lead, 4-3, with 2:55 left to play. The Grit’s final push netted them a pair of shots in the final minute against McDonough, but the final buzzer sounded as the Wranglers hung on for the one-goal victory.

GAME SUMMARY

Scoring

1st Period – COL – West (Gudridge, Burke) – 2:31

1st Period – COL – Junker (Cooke, Carter) – 2:55

2nd Period – AMA – McDonald – 1:37

3rd Period – AMA – Gadowsky (Semeniuk, Morris) – 2:25

3rd Period – AMA – J. Ivey (B. Ivey, Gagnon) – 13:00

3rd Period – COL – Rioux (Miller) – 14:50

3rd Period – AMA – B. Ivey (J. Ivey, Gagnon) – 17:03

 

Shots:

COL: 26 AMA: 29

 

Special Teams

PP – COL: 1/2 AMA: 1/2

PK – COL: 1/2 AMA: 1/2

 

Notable Performances

B. Junker (COL) – 1 G, 0 A – 1st career goal

B. Ivey (AMA) – 1 G, 1 A

N. Gagnon (AMA) – 0 G, 2 A