West Valley City • The celebratory music blaring from the Utah locker room told the story Saturday night.
Michael Pelech scored the tie-breaking goal with 10:33 remaining, lifting the Grizzlies to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Bakersfield in Game 2 of their ECHL playoff series at the Maverik Center.
Pelech’s rebound goal gave Utah its first lead in two games and the Grizzlies held on to even the best-of-seven series, 1-1.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Bakersfield.
The game-winning goal in another physical, low-scoring battle between Utah and the Condors came after Danick Paquette carried the puck into the offensive zone.
His centering pass was knocked behind the net, but Paquette regained possession and passed to D.J. Jelitto in front.
Bakersfield goaltender Laurent Brossoit knocked the point-blank wrist shot away, but Pelech beat the defense to the puck.
“It was just a turnover and quick transition,” he said. “Paquette made a great play. He drove wide with speed ... and I just got lucky. [It] came right to me and I had an open net.”
Bakersfield needed only 26 seconds to take the lead in Game 2
The Condors controlled the opening face-off and moved into the Utah end of the ice. Suddenly, Gary Steffes strolled from behind the net and — unchallenged — flipped a wrist shot over Aaron Dell’s shoulder.
Seven seconds after the goal, Pelech was called for tripping. Although Utah killed the penalty, the Condors dominated the rest of the period.
“Our start was really tough,” said Utah coach Tim Branham. “They came out hard. They wanted it worse than us. They won every battle. But finally, enough was enough. We needed to prove we could play with anybody -- even a hard-working team like this that’s suited for the playoffs. Enough was enough.”
The Grizzlies stayed in the game behind the play of Dell and finally scored at the end of a made-for-Hollywood sequence with 5:32 left in the second period.
Utah killed a 5-on-3 power play. As it expired, Adam Pineault controlled the puck and passed to Brent Gwidt, who was breaking out of the Utah zone.
At center ice, Gwidt ended up in a 2-on-1 with Teigan Zahn, who had just stepped out of the penalty box.
As they crossed the blue line, Gwidt slipped the puck to Zahn, who swept into the slot, squared up on goal and rifled a low wrist shot past Brossoit to tie the game at 1-1.
“They know how to kill [penalties],” Branham said. “We’ve gone over it a million times. … We got the job done.”
ECHL playoffs Grizzlies 2, Condors 1
O Utah rallies for a 2-1 win over Bakersfield in Game 2 of a first-round ECHL playoff series.
• Micheal Pelech scores with 10:33 remaining to lift the Grizzlies to victory.
• The series, tied 1-1, resumes Tuesday night at Bakersfield.
The schedule for the first-round ECHL playoff series between Utah and Bakersfield:
Friday • Bakersfield 1, Utah 0
Saturday • Utah 2, Bakersfield 1
Tuesday • at Bakersfield, 8 p.m.
Thursday • at Bakersfield, 8 p.m.
Friday • at Bakersfield, 8 p.m.
x- April 27 • at Utah, 7 p.m.
x-April 30 • at Utah, 7 p.m.