ECHL hockey: Las Vegas beats Utah Grizzlies in shootout
West Valley City • A TV advertisement billed Friday's interdivision game between Utah and Las Vegas as a rivalry, but for some Grizzlies, this is their first rodeo with the Wranglers.
In the fluid world of ECHL hockey, rivalries are difficult to sustain, since a call-up to the AHL is always a game away.
Consider it a rivalry renewed.
Friday's 4-3 shootout win for Las Vegas was the teams' first meeting since April, when the Wranglers sent Utah packing in the first round of the playoffs the earliest Grizzlies playoff exit in three years.
The Grizzlies gave up a two-goal lead in the third period and missed their final three shootout attempts.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," coach Kevin Colley said. "We weren't too smart at the end. It's just immaturity. We're just so inconsistent. We play 40 minutes and then take 20 off. We need to find an identity. It's beyond frustrating."
It didn't take long for the punches to start flying on Friday. Utah's Tommy Maxwell was sent to the penalty box less than 10 minutes into the game for slashing. Expect more of the same over the next three weeks, as four of the next nine games for the Grizzlies (11-11-4) come against the Wranglers (11-11-4).
"If we have a competitive bone in our body, we'll want a little revenge," Colley said.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period thanks to goals from Kory Fallite, Jimmy Martin and assistant captain Mitch Wahl.
After a scoreless second period, Las Vegas cut Utah's lead in half and cashed in on a power-play opportunity when Josh Godfrey and Judd Blackwater teamed up to find forward Andrew Sarauer early in the third. Then, Nolan Julseth-White scored the equalizer with less than three minutes to play.
Las Vegas won the shootout 3-2 after Utah found the back of the net on its first two tries. The Grizzlies then went cold as Riley Armstorng, Ferland and Eddy whiffed on consecutive attempts and Las Vegas' Matt Carter converted.
"We haven't won a shootout in six weeks," Colley said. "I wouldn't say we were confident."
The Grizzlies return to Maverik Center on Dec. 28 to play Ontario in the fifth of an eight-game home stand.
O In its first meeting with Las Vegas since last season's playoffs, Utah falls in a shootout. Four of the Grizzlies' next nine games will be against the Wranglers.
• Utah gives up a two-goal lead in the third.
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