West Valley City • The Grizzlies thought a return to the friendly confines of the Maverik Center would get them but on track, but it was the Alaska Aces who seemed right at home as they downed Utah, 5-1.
Utah was dominant out of the gate and took a 1-0 lead on a Brad Mills goal just 3 minutes, 33 seconds into the game. The Grizzlies were firing at will and had several other close calls. By the time Alaska mustered its first shot more than eight minutes into the game, Utah had attempted 10 shots.
That control soon waned, and never returned, when Utah forward Kory Falite was sent to the penalty box for tripping midway through the period. Just as Falite was getting up to exit the penalty box, an errant shot dropped fell at the skates of Alaska's Sean Curry. With just one second left on the power play, Curry flipped the puck over the left shoulder of Grizzlies goaltender Shawn Hunwick to even the game at one goal apiece. Another Alaska goal late in the period put Utah in a 2-1 hole.
Utah was visibly shaken by the momentum shift, because it came out flat in the second period. Alaska netted two quick goals and the Grizzlies folded.
"Our poise dipped off tremendously," Grizzlies coach Kevin Colley said. "I have half a team that can play hockey, but those other guys might as well be playing patty-cake. I should let them in on a little secret hard work pays off."
Mills, a team captain and leader on the ice, was equally disappointed his team's attitude and effort, or lack thereof. He was borderline disgusted with Friday's performance.
"You saw a mentally fragile team out there," Mills said. "We have some guys who need to take a look in the mirror and decide if this is what they want to do. It's a developmental league, so guys are here to learn, but right now, we're just learning how to lose."
Aces 5, Grizzlies 1
P After a Brad Mills goal 3 minutes, 33 seconds into the game, the Grizzlies were held scoreless.
• The Grizzlies suffer their eighth loss in their last nine games.
• Utah and Alaska face off again Saturday at 7 p.m.