Win eludes Grizz
West Valley City • The Utah Grizzlies came within 30 seconds of getting back into its first-round ECHL playoff series with heavily favored Ontario.
Instead, the Reign scored late in regulation and prevailed in overtime Friday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven match-up with the Grizzlies.
Ontario's Jake Hauswirth knocked a rebound past goalie Shane Owen with 14:59 left in the extra period to push the Grizzlies to the brink of elimination.
After being outscored, 12-4, in the first two games, Utah nearly put all the pressure back on the Reign. Now, however, the Grizzlies face elimination in Game 4 on Saturday night at the Maverik Center.
"It's frustrating," said coach Kevin Colley. "Just a must-win game right there. Am I proud of the way they competed? No question. We did a lot of good things."
Colley promised his team would not quit, despite facing improbable odds.
"We're going to continue to fight and play hockey until somebody tells us we can't," he said. "It sucks right now, but there's no place to hide. We have to stick together. We can't roll over."
The Grizzlies started well and took seven of the game's first eight shots.
They couldn't score, however, and back-to-back penalties on David Eddy and Riley Armstrong slowed Utah's momentum.
Ontario went on their third power play in a 10-minute stretch when Adam Stoflet was called for roughing with 3:10 left in the first period. But only 25 seconds later, Utah's Chris Donovan got behind the defense and was pulled down.
Referee Marc-Andre Lavoie awarded a penalty shot and Donovan gave the Grizzlies their first lead of the series when he beat Reign goalie Jean-Francois Berube.
Utah continued to lead into the final 5 1/2 minutes of the game, when Armstrong broke loose but missed the net with a wrist shot.
With 1:06 remaining, Ontario coach Jason Christie pulled Berube in favor of an extra skater.
Utah's Tommy Maxwell quickly found room in the neutral zone and flipped a shot toward the empty net, but he missed.
It was a key play because, with 29.3 seconds left, the Reign's Nick Ebert rifled a rising blast over Owen's left shoulder, forcing overtime.
"They got the puck to the point and sent a bunch of bodies to the net," Owen said. "I lost sight of it for a second but it deflected off one of our guys or one of their guys. It went upstairs on me and I couldn't react fast enough."
Ebert's goal set the stage for Hauswirth's game-winner.
"It's a tough one," Owen said. "But it's definitely been done before and we have the group of guys to do it, for sure. We have to stick together and play one period at a time, one shift at a time."
Reign 2, Grizzlies 1 (OT)
O Jake Hauswirth scores 5:11 into overtime in Ontario's 2-1 win over Utah.
• The Reign take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven, opening-round series.
• Utah leads, 1-0, when Ontario ties the game with 29.3 seconds left in regulation.
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