By CHRISTIAN MARTIN
A crowd of 7,024 arrived at the E Center Wednesday night to find out one of the fan favorites had been called up to the New York Islanders and would not be skating for the Grizzlies.
But it didn’t take long for the rowdy Grizz to find someone to take the place of the departed Vladimir Orszagh. Grizzlie’s newcomer Jamie Thompson slapped the puck into the net chords at 4:07 into the first period and would score once more helping Utah to a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Blades.
“It was incredible to put one in on my first shift,” Thompson said. “I thought I was going to sit but I was thrown right in.”
Thompson was called up from El Paso of the Western Professional Hockey League on Tuesday where he led the WPHL with 15 goals and 14 assists in 14 games.
“He[Thompson] was going to play tonight and we wanted to find out if he could play and the only way to do that is to play the kid,” said Utah’s Coach Butch Goring. “I was very pleased with his effort. He played very hard and scored a couple goals. We weren’t sure we would get that kind of offense out of him.”
After the Grizzlies took the lead in the first period, the Blades came back to even the score with less than two minutes remaining in the first stanza.
Kansas City seemed to be in control of the match in the second period when Pat Ferschweiler and John Purves scored less than a minute apart. With five minutes to go in the period, the crowd let out a disappointed sigh after a shot by Chris Taylor hit the post. But the puck bounced onto Jan Vopat’s stick and was slapped in the net past a falling Blades goalie.
Utah found itself in a rare goal disadvantage going into the third period but with 10:35, Thompson struck again and tied the game up. With the home crowd back into the game, Fred Knipscheer took a pass from teammate Kip Miller and scored the winning goal for the Grizzlies with just over five minutes to go in the game. Utah’s defense took over and denied the Blades a game tying goal.
“When our team comes to play, were the best team out there,” said Utah goalie Mark McArthur. “If we put 60 minutes together game in and game out, I don’t think we’ll have a problem beating a lot of teams.”
The Grizzlies are currently in the midst of a four game winning streak. The team improves to 12-6-2 with the victory.
Utah will return to the E Center tonight to face the Las Vegas Thunder. The Grizzlies have defeated the Thunder four straight times this year.