Hockey: Alaska Aces beat short-handed Utah Grizzlies
West Valley City • The short-handed Utah Grizzlies ran out of gas in the third period of Monday's game against ECHL-leading Alaska.
The Aces drove off with a 6-1 victory.
Before a holiday matinee crowd of 7,707, Alaska scored three goals in a 10-minute stretch of the third period against Utah, which once again played with only 13 skaters because of injuries and call-ups.
"I feel for the guys in the locker room," coach Kevin Colley said. "We've gone too long playing short-handed. We're doing everything we can to turn this around and put a full team on the ice. ... This is just a fragile group right now."
Despite the lopsided final score, Utah dominated the first period. But Alaska goalkeeper Mark Guggenberger kept the game close.
"That was deflating," Colley said. "I liked the first 16 or 17 minutes of the game. I told the players I thought it was our best stretch all year and it can be frustrating not to be rewarded. But that's the mental part of the game."
The Grizzlies peppered Guggenberger with 10 shots in the opening 2:44 and outshot the Aces, 22-7, before finally breaking through at 17:05.
Strolling toward the Alaska zone against two defenders, Kory Falite reached the blue line and flipped a harmless-looking wrist shot toward the net.
Somehow, the puck got past Guggenberger, giving Utah a hard-earned 1-0 lead.
It didn't last long, however.
Alaska's Jordan Kremyr scored 33 seconds later, triggering a three-goal outburst. B.J. Crum and Spencer Bennett also beat Morrison in the next 1:54, giving the Aces a 3-1 lead.
Neither team scored in the second period, when Morrison rebounded and helped keep the Grizzlies in the game. He stopped 13 shots by the Aces, who failed to convert on three power plays.
"That's what gives me hope, when I see our team play that way," Colley said. "If we didn't get that from these guys, it would be really frustrating."
Trailing 3-1, Utah's chance in this game ended when Alaska's Nick Mazzolini scored a 5-on-3 shorthanded goal with 15:18 remaining.
"We have to weather the storm and use this adversity to make us stronger down the road," Colley said.
Storylines Aces 6, Grizzies 1
R Alaska goalkeeper Mark Guggenberger stops 50 of 51 shots during a 6-1 victory over Utah.
• The Grizzlies take a 1-0 lead on Kory Falite's first-period goal but don't score again.
• Utah loses for the fourth time in its last five games.