After picking up a big two points on Wednesday, the Grizzlies looked to keep their momentum rolling. With both Austen Brassard and Cam Ried back in the lineup, the Grizzlies skated without Travis Howe and Sean Robertson, electing to go with eleven forwards and five defensemen.
Utah drew the first power play of the night just under a a minute into the first, as Ben Lake and Martin Nemcik tangled at the Aces’ blue line. Utah had trouble getting set up initially, but in the last 30 seconds or so, they really began to get going.
Unlike Wednesday night, there was nothing wrong with Utah’s passing in the early going, their play alert, crisp, and quick as they picked up four of the first five shots in the opening half of the period.
Phil Pietroniro took a hooking call at 13:02, but the Grizzlies’ penalty kill looked very sharp, and he returned to the ice with no change in score.
Both teams picked up shots through the remainder of the period, both Ryan Faragher and Kevin Carr making some great saves.
With just under two minutes left, Tim Daly and Mathieu Aubin both got absolutely incredible chances at the goalmouth, and Alaska took a delay of game penalty for taking the net off its moorings in the chaos.
Utah took a too many men penalty moments after that, but Alaska tripped up Michael Pelech mere seconds after that, so Utah went to a 4-on-3 power in the final seconds of the period.
Alaska opened the scoring 1:37 into the second on the 4-on-4 as Tim Wallace beat Faragher on an unfortunately gorgeous shot.
Jon Puskar drew a tripping penalty at the half-way mark, but Utah was unable to capitalize, and Faragher was forced to make a great, short-handed save.
A few minutes later, however, a fired up Puskar got in on a breakaway, and was taken down, earning him a penalty shot. He beat Carr clean, electrifying the Friday night crowd, and tying the game.
Things got a little chippy afterwards, and there was some pushing and shoving as Pietroniro and an Alaska player got tangled up behind the net. Both teams came in, and Michael Pelech and Taylor Shattock got five for fighting.
Brassard made it 2-1, scoring his fourth of the season with assists from Reid and Cuddemi at 16:10.
Utah ended the period with back-to-back penalties, but thanks to a big save from Faragher, Utah ended the second, up 2-1, and outshooting Alaska 19-16.
The third period was less crisp as the previous two had been for Utah, and just past the half-way mark, Tim Coffman tied the game at two. Alaska turned up the intensity after the tying goal, and Faragher made some big saves to hold the tie. Utah got a chance on the power play with just over five minutes to go in the third, but were unable to capitalize, and Faragher had to shut the door on yet another short-handed breakaway.
The end of regulation saw no change in score, and the game went to overtime. Faragher made another big save on the breakaway in OT, but was unable to stop Ryan Trenz, whose forth of the season gave Alaska the win.
“It’s pretty disappointing, obviously you always want two points,” said Brassard after the game, “But it’s over now. It’s still a big weekend, we’re still making this playoff push, so we’ve got to focus on the game tomorrow come of with the win then, five out of six points in three games is better than nothing.”
“I thought we played a good first period, but we let them stick around by not burying our scoring chances, that was the result of the first period.”Coach Branham said, “Second period, I thought we took advantage of our scoring chances, scored a couple of goals. Third period, we didn’t play with enough hunger to keep the puck out of the back of our net. Same with overtime. Defensively, when you’re up by a goal, you can’t allow plays like that to happen, and unfortunately we weren’t able to score another goal. I thought Kevin Carr made a bunch of big saves, and that’s what goalies are supposed to do. We’ve got to make sure that this one irritates us a little bit, makes us angry, and come back tomorrow with the same effort we had in the first period, but we need to sustain it.”
The Grizzlies tied with the Mavericks who have two games in hand, and are five behind the Aces. Utah is back in action tonight at 7 PM, looking to close that gap.