West Valley City • It was a night to remember for Tim Branham, Jamie MacQueen and the Utah Grizzlies.
Branham earned his first victory as a professional head coach, MacQueen scored all four Grizzly goals and Utah opened the ECHL season Friday with a 4-2 win over Idaho.
Grizzlies 4,Steelheads 2
O Jamie MacQueen scores all four goals in Utah’s season-opening 4-2 win over Idaho.
» New Grizzlies goaltender Igor Bobkov shut out the Steelheads until the final 3:34.
With an enthusiastic crowd of 7,835 watching at the Maverik Center, the Grizzlies never trailed after MacQueen scored twice in a 61/2-minute span of the first period.
"The boys played hard," said Branham, who was named the Grizzlies’ general manager and coach in July. "They did what I asked. They played for each other. We had a lot of [penalty] kills. … All the credit goes to the boys. They did a hell of a job."
Like Branham, MacQueen is new to the organization. He split time last season between Denver of the Central Hockey League and Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.
Asked if he’s ever scored four times in one game, MacQueen smiled, shook his head and said, "Not that I can remember."
Still, the win was the thing for MacQueen.
"Anytime you can get off to a hot start, that’s good," he said. "But more importantly, the team won. That’s what we want here — wins."
Said Branham: "He’s a great player. He played hard. He’s with two good linemates, which I’m sure helps. But he’s a shooter. That kid has a hard shot. … It was a good start."
Only 3:12 into the game, MacQueen gave Utah a 1-0 lead when he got his stick on a loose puck in front of the net and poked it past Idaho goaltender Pat Nagle.
"We had some good low play," he said. " I think we went low to high. … I just banged in the rebound — Johnny on the spot."
Less than seven minutes later, MacQueen took a perfectly timed pass from David Vallorani at the blue line, stepped around a Steeelhead defender, crossed in front of Nagle and made it 2-0.
"Val made a heck of a pass," MacQueen said. "I caught it with speed and the defense was flat-footed a little bit. I drove by and was able to beat the goalie."
Idaho found some rhythm on two power-play opportunities late in the second period. But three sparkling saves by goalie Igor Bobkov in the final moments enabled the Grizzlies to maintain their lead.
In the first 10 minutes of the third period, the Steelheads got three more power-play chances, but could not beat Bobkov. MacQueen iced the victory with two goals in the final 8:29.
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