WEST VALLEY CITY — Just seven minutes into the first period of the Utah Grizzlies game against the Alaska Aces, Grizzlies fans had more then enough to cheer about.
After the previous night’s loss, Utah came out on the ice with the mindset of winning and wasted no time proving it, beating the Aces 4 to 3.
Just one minute into the first period, Utah was up 1-0 after a centering pass was made to Utah forward Teigan Zahn for a quick first goal.
If that wasn’t enough, three minutes later David Vallorani followed suit with another shot that found its way to the back of the net, making it 2-0 for the Grizzlies. Coach Tim Branham was pleased with his players’ performance.
“You never want to lose two in a row, and I thought it was a real good response to yesterday’s game. We needed to put more pucks in the back of the net, and we did that today,” Branham said.
At the start of the second period, the Aces came out of the locker room with a renewed desire to bring the heat.
Aces forward Brendan Connolly did just that as he snuck Alaska’s first goal of the night past Utah goaltender Aaron Dell. Alaska was back in it with Connolly’s 18th goal of the season and a new score of 2-1.
The physicality of the second period continued as Danick Paquette and Sean Curry were given matching penalties for roughing. Both teams were playing four on four when Aces forward Peter Sivak got his 22nd goal of the season.
However, the 2-2 tie was short lived. Grizzly forward Jamie McQueen took advantage of a breakaway with just 3:48 left on the clock, ripping a shot top right and pushing Utah ahead once again, 3-2.
Regardless of the final score, Coach Branham thought his team could have stepped up more when it came to capitalizing on the power play.
“I thought we did okay,” Branham said. “With them pressuring hard we just need to make quicker and better reads with the puck, down low and making plays.”
Alaska, on the other hand, did not have that same issue. Mathew Sisca, for the Aces, tore a shot that went top shelf over Dell’s shoulder, once again tying the score 3-3 with a power play goal early into the third.
The Grizzlies answered right back with another goal, by Grizzly forward Brent Gwidt, to take the lead yet again.
With just two minutes left on the clock, the Aces had one last chance to tie the game. However, right before the puck passed the goal line, Dell was able to pull it back just in time. Coach Branham commended Dell’s hard work in the game. Dell successfully blocked 23 of the 26 shots made by the Aces.
“Every good team needs a good goalie; it’s their job to stop the puck, and he definitely made some real nice saves today,” Branham said.
The 6,340 fans who attended the game left happy with a Grizzly win. The Grizzlies will not be returning to the Maverick Center until March 19, when they face the Stockton Thunder.