FRIDAY – New Mexico 6, COLORADO 3

Mar 22, 2024

Milestone goals for Quinn Bowden and Sheldon Rioux brightened the night for the Grit, but they were unable to overcome three shorthanded goals from the visiting New Mexico Ice Wolves and fell 6-3 on Friday night at the Greeley Ice Haus.

8:45 into the first period, the Ice Wolves started the scoring with a booming slap shot from Dillion Kuntz. The clapper pinged off the crossbar and into the back of the net past Grit netminder Aden Gariepy to give New Mexico a 1-0 lead. Barely a minute later, Colorado had tied things back up. Wilder Jacober took advantage of a stumbling New Mexico defender to start a 3-on-1 down the left wing; Jacober slid the puck to the front of the net and Quinn Bowden punched the loose change past Ice Wolve goalie Jackson Fuller for his first career NAHL goal and tied the game 1-1 with 10:12 remaining in the first period. Late in the first period, Christian Carter threw a heavy shoulder check on Ice Wolve forward Yusaku Ando; the hit left Ando bloodied and forced to exit the game while New Mexico went to the power play.

Ty Tuccitto took advantage of a helpful bounce off the end glass from an off-the-mark effort to power a wrist shot past Gareipy and give New Mexico a 2-1 lead with 4:37 to go in the first period.

A tripping penalty as time expired in the first period allowed the Grit to start the second period on the power play. However, it was New Mexico that converted when Ryan Seelinger finished off a breakaway by beating a prone Gariepy to push New Mexico in front, 3-1, just 1:12 into the second period. The Grit returned to the power play after Christian Carter was retaliated against for a hit he threw in the first period; Carter absorbed multiple punches from Ice Wolve forward Johnny Johansson before the officials intervened. Johansson was issued a game misconduct and the Grit got a major power play in return.

For the second time in as many power plays, a shorthanded breakaway proved to be Colorado’s undoing. Ethan Hull picked off a cross-ice pass, raced the other direction, and slipped a snap shot past Gariepy’s right pad to expand New Mexico’s lead, 4-1, with 15:13 to go in the second period. The goal led to Jack Erickson entering the game in relief between the pipes. The Grit found an immediate response from rookie Sheldon Rioux. Rioux popped the bottle with a one-timer for his first career goal and pulled the Grit back within two, 4-2 just 5:33 into the second period.

The Ice Wolves struck short-handed for the third time in the game early in the third period. Graham Harris raced coast-to-coast, sidestepped a Grit defender, and ripped a shot over Erickson’s blocker to push the lead back to three, 5-2, with 13:31 to play in regulation. For the third time in three periods, the Grit’s response was swift.

Tomas Vlcek tipped a rebound past Fuller for his eighth goal of the year under 90 seconds later to pull Colorado back into the game, 5-3, with 12:15 to go in the third period. The deficit stayed at two until a late Rasmus Leijonhelm tap-in on the right wing post put the game to bed, 6-3, with 3:28 to play in regulation.