West Valley City • With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the surging Utah Grizzlies have already surpassed their win total from a season ago. After defeating the Stockton Thunder 2-1 on Wednesday, Utah improves to 31-21-3-5 and wins three of four games to finish the series with Stockton.
"It would have been nice to score on a few more of our chances, but I thought we played really well," said Coach Tim Branham. "We put up a lot of shots and played pretty solid defensively … but I’m proud of their effort."
Grizzlies 2,Thunder 1
O David Vallorani continues his impressive play against Stockton, scoring two points on one assist and one goal on seven shots.
It took less than two minutes for the Grizzlies to jump out to a 1-0 lead in a fast-paced first period in which Utah peppered Stockton goalie Parker Milner with 17 shots, compared to just six for the Thunder.
At 1:20 in the first period, Phil Mangan started a 2-on-1 break as he drew a defender near the blue line and passed to David Vallorani, who then found teammate Danick Paquette with a nifty backhanded pass for his 15th goal of the season.
Utah continued to pour on the pressure in the second period, firing 33 shots on goal before the second intermission, including a missed penalty shot by Vallorani. But as sharp as Utah looked offensively, it was the team’s defense that shined early in the second period.
The Grizz outlasted back-to-back Stockton power plays in the first 8:30 of the period, but with less than two minutes remaining, the Thunder took advantage of their fourth power-play chance to tie the game, 1-1.
The Grizzlies broke the tie 6:31 into the third period as Paquette skated through the slot and slid the puck to Vallorani for a one-time blast that found the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
With the one goal and one assist performance, Vallorani tallied seven points on four goals and three assists through the four-game series against Stockton and continues to lead the team in goals scored with 23. The second-year pro leads also leads all scorers in the Utah/Stockton series this season with 16 points on eight goals and eight assists through 10 games.
"Vallorani [and I] have good chemistry," said Paquette of his assist on the game-winning goal. "We’ve been playing together for two years. He made me a great pass and I just saw him in the slot. He’s a goal-scorer … I just tried to give him the puck. … It was a great shot by him."
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