For the first time this season, familiar foes in the Utah Grizzlies and Colorado Eagles took to the ice Friday night at the Maverik Center. With Utah having defeated the Eagles in the first round of last year's ECHL playoffs four games to two, there was bound to be bad blood between the two clubs. In an ugly game that featured a bevy of fights and 17 penalties, 60 minutes wasn't enough to settle the heavyweight bout.
With the game tied at 3-3 in overtime, Utah forward Austen Brassard settled the matter himself. Gliding up the ice, Brassard deked Colorado goalie Nathan Lieuwen to one side, and when the puck crossed the red line, the crowd of 3,995 erupted as the home fans went home happy, celebrating the 4-3 victory.
With the Grizzlies clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third, Colorado wasted no time in leveling the contest at the 52-second mark when Luke Salazar blasted a rebound past a sprawling Ryan Faragher in net.
Utah had come up empty on its first five-on-three power play. However, the Grizzlies cashed in on their second such attempt. Jon Puskar redirected a slapshot off the stick of teammate Mathieu Aubin for a 3-2 lead. However, Colorado responded at the 14:38 mark when Cole Sanford found the back of the net.
Although Utah's offense was largely stymied in the second period, being held to a mere four shots and struggling to get past the neutral zone, the Grizzlies made the most of their final attempt. Erik Higby found the back of the net at 18:56, and suddenly, in a period that seemed to belong to the Eagles, Utah found itself ahead 2-1 with 20 minutes to play.
Faragher was especially impressive in the session, staving off 12 Eagles shots, most of which occurred during three Grizzlies penalties to hold Colorado scoreless in the second.
New arrival Ralph Cuddemi had barely broken in his Grizzlies jersey when he got Utah on the board just 3:06 into the contest. The Eagles responded at 13:15 when Casey Pierro-Zabotel guided in a rebound past Faragher.