To extend a nine-season playoff appearance streak to 10, the Utah Grizzlies must make up ground fast.
And they answered the call on Wednesday night, scoring the final four goals of the game and beating the Alaska Aces 5-3 at the Maverik Center in ECHL action to draw within four points of the Aces for fourth in the Mountain Division.
"We got down 3-1 for a reason. We weren't working hard. But once we got in a rhythm and understood that if we work hard good things will happen, things started to turn around for us," Grizzlies head coach Tim Branham said. "Our destiny is in our hands, and we just need to keep winning games."
Trailing 3-2 as the third period began, Utah exploded out of the gates with a pair of goals three minutes into the period.
Erik Higby fired a slap shot that blew by Aces goalie Kevin Carr and tied the game. Utah then claimed the lead at 4-3 as Mathieu Aubin scored the Grizzlies' third power-play goal of the night. In the blink of an eye, Utah found itself in the lead. And with Alaska pulling Carr late in the period, Michael Pelech launched a shot from center ice to complete the comeback.
"We stuck together and started working hard, and it fueled our energy," Aubin said. "We need to take it one game at a time but we won't be happy unless we get the six points this weekend."
Utah's first power play of the night proved successful as the Grizzlies' leading scorer, Ralph Cuddemi, converted for a 1-0 lead. However, the Grizzlies would be silenced offensively until late in the second period as the Aces registered a trio of goals by Daniel Moynihan, Tim Wallace and former Grizzlie Brad Navin.
Utah's power play was on point as addition Zac Larraza, recently assigned to Utah from the Anaheim Ducks' AHL affiliate in San Diego, fired a slap shot that escaped the pads of Carr to give Utah life as the second period drew to a close and make the score 3-2.