ECHL: Grizz break losing streak
West Valley City » James Brannigan called it the best feeling in the world. The same could be said for the Utah Grizzlies on Saturday.
Brannigan recorded his first hat trick (three goals) in the ECHL and the Grizzlies broke a seven-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over visiting Phoenix. The victory was Utah's first since a 4-3 overtime win over Ontario on January 16.
"You can't describe it," Brannigan said of his feat. "It's one of the best feelings in the world to me, being so passionate about hockey. Being successful in hockey really means a lot to me. My teammates put me in good position tonight."
The game was a complete 180 from Friday's match-up between the teams. Then, Utah led 1-0 before Phoenix scored six straight goals to win 6-1. The Grizzlies had a reversal of fortunes Saturday, returning the favor.
"I think we just wanted to prove that the 13 (skaters) we've got in that locker room can get the job done," Brannigan said. "We had a deep desire tonight to prove that to our coaches and fans. We were way more focused tonight."
Phoenix scored just four minutes into the game on a power-play goal before Utah netted two goals to end the first period. Brannigan had his hat trick by the end of the second period. By that time, three Utah players -- Tyler Wooddisse, Rob Hennigar, and Evan Kotsopoulos each had two assists.
"The guys now see that even when you have 13 guys and stick to the game plan, you're going to be successful," Utah coach Kevin Colley said. "We simplified the game and still scored six goals. The guys now believe in each other and are pulling that same rope. You've got to be in it to win it."
Both of Utah's third-period goals came on the power play, as Mark Pavli and Tim Verbeek each found the net. Hennigar finished with three assists, as the Grizzlies out-shot Phoenix by a sizeable margin (33-25).
"This is a huge confidence boost for us," Colley said. "We came into today with a clean state of mind. The guys had good enthusiasm, stuck to it for 60 minutes, and got results. Kudos to the guys in that locker room."
Utah goalie Peter Mannino recorded 24 saves in his second straight start.
The Grizzlies host Bakersfield on Tuesday at the E Center.
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