FRIDAY – Amarillo 5, COLORADO 1

Mar 15, 2024

The Grit couldn’t overcome a slow start in the first period, falling behind the visiting Amarillo Wranglers 2-0, before eventually dropping Friday night’s contest, 5-1, at the Greeley Ice Haus.

Amarillo’s first power play goal came off a fortuitous bounce for forward Connor McNaughton. A slap shot from the right point was stopped by Grit goaltender Pete Sterling with the left pad, caromed off the end glass, and back to the crease. McNaughton’s third effort at jamming the rebound home gave Amarillo a power play goal and 1-0 lead with 10:49 left in the 1st period.

The visitors doubled the lead shortly before the first intermission when forward Ben Ivey’s wrist shot from the right wing faceoff circle snuck through Sterling and into the back of the net with 47 seconds remaining in the period; Amarillo took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Wranglers used the power play for the second time in two periods to expand their advantage. A back door pass found Ben Ivey on the left wing post; Ivey slipped the puck past Sterling to open up a 3-0 lead with 13:56 in the 2nd period. Just over a minute later, a cross-seam pass found trailing forward Luke Morris, who rifled a wrist shot in the top corner past Sterling. The 4-0 deficit with 12:45 left in the second period spelled an end to Sterling’s night, making way for Jack Erickson.

Colorado found a spark to start the third period, thanks to rookie Lukas Mann. In just his fourth junior game, Mann cleaned up a loose puck at the edge of the crease and punched in the Grit’s first goal of the game just 32 seconds into the third period. The Grit then marched onto the power play after Wrangler defenseman TJ Richey took a high-sticking penalty. Colorado created three shots, part of a third period where they outshot Amarillo 13-6, but were unable to convert and finished 0-for-4 on the power play. Their fourth power play came with under four minutes to play and Colorado pulled the goaltender to jump start their offense. Moments after getting back to full strength, Morley Phillips iced the game for Amarillo by banking a shot off of Grit defenseman Jordan Gudridge to make it 5-1 with 2:27 to play.