Utah Grizzlies hope to bounce back against Ontario
West Valley City • The Utah Grizzlies entered their first-round playoffs series against Ontario as one of the hottest teams in the ECHL.
The Grizzlies scored at least one point in 14 of their final 17 regular-season games to clinch the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. They appeared positioned to challenge the powerful Reign in the best-of-seven series.
So far, however, it hasn't worked out that way.
Ontario never trailed in the first two games and won twice by a combined score of 12-4.
Game 3 is Friday night at the Maverik Center.
"We need to definitely find another gear," said Utah coach Kevin Colley, "because Ontario is playing at a level that we just haven't found yet."
According to Colley, the Reign are playing like a team that accumulated 96 points in the regular season. Only Alaska, with 106, finished with more.
"You've got to give Ontario credit," he said. "But as a group, we have to challenge ourselves to play better and make this a good series."
Colley said Shane Owen will start the third game in goal for the Grizzlies.
Ben Meisner started Game 1, but Owen replaced him. Owen was the starter in Game 2 before he was replaced by Meisner.
"We all have to take responsibility, on both sides of the puck," Colley said. "You can't hang the goalies out there on an island all by themselves. We have to take more pride and we can't get frustrated when the puck isn't going in the net for us."
In Game 1, Ontario scored a 5-2 victory after scoring three goals in less than two minutes early in the first period.
Owen replaced Meisner after the third goal and finished up. He watched the Grizzlies rally and get as close as 3-2 midway through the second period before the Reign pulled away again.
In Game 2, Ontario took a 1-0 lead into the second period, when it scored three goals in the first six minutes to chase Owen.
Despite the lopsided nature of the first two games, Colley said, "I still believe in this group."
Utah-Ontario series schedule
Game 1 • Ontario 5, Utah 2
Game 2 • Ontario 7, Utah 2
Game 3 • Ontario at Utah, Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 • Ontario at Utah, Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
x-Game 5 • Ontario at Utah, April 9, 7:05 p.m.
x-Game 6 • Utah at Ontario, April 12, 8 p.m.
x-Game 7 • Utah at Ontario, April 13, 7 p.m.