ECHL hockey: Alaska jumps out to quick start to down Utah Grizzlies
West Valley City • Officially, the ECHL game between Utah and Alaska on Saturday night lasted 60 minutes.
In reality, it was over in less than nine.
The Aces scored three goals in the opening 8:33 and cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Grizzlies in front of 6,364 fans at the Maverik Center.
"That's what it came down to," said Utah coach Kevion Colley. "That's what dictated the game. We were a little flat coming out. You could sense it on the bench during the national anthem."
Coming off an emotional 3-2 shootout victory over Alaska just 24 hours earlier, Utah did not play with the same spark.
Colley hinted his team is a little worn down, after the Grizzlies once again had only 13 skaters available against Alaska because of injuries and call-ups.
"It's a tough situation for our guys," Colley said. "They're plugging along, but we are short-handed."
Even after the slow start, Utah had a chance to get back in the game. But Berkley Scott couldn't convert a penalty shot late in the first period and the Grizzlies failed to score on four mostly punchless power plays.
"We didn't quit," Colley said. "... [But] we've got to figure out how to score goals."
The loss was Utah's fifth in its last seven games. It dropped the Grizzlies' record against league-leading Alaska to 4-9 this season.
The teams play again Monday in the third of a four-game series.
Facing Utah goalie Shane Owen, whose record dropped to 3-6-2 in 11 games, Alaska scored on two of its first six shots.
Shawn Skelly needed only 2:07 to put the Aces in front and, 3:20 seconds later, Bobby Hughes scored the first of his two goals to make it 2-0.
Alaska wasn't finished.
At 8:33, Nick Mazzolini scored his 28th goal of the season with only five seconds left on a 5-on-3 power play.
Utah's Colin Vock closed the deficit to 3-1 with 17.2 seconds left in the otherwise disastrous first period with his 20th goal, but the Grizzlies never got closer.
Alaska sealed the deal with 56 seconds remaining in the second period when Hughes beat Owen to a loose puck and fired into an empty net to give the Aces a 4-1 lead.
Aces 6, Grizzlies 2
R Alaska scores three goals in the first 8:33 to defeat Utah.
• The Grizzlies go 0 for 4 on power plays and fail to convert a penalty shot.
• Utah and Alaska play again on Monday in a 1:35 p.m. matinee.