West Valley City • The goal for the Utah Grizzlies this weekend was simply this: sweep the Alaska Aces and in so doing, tie their division foes for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain D0ivision.
The Aces, however, had different plans. Alaska defeated the Grizzlies in overtime, 3-2, after rebounding from a 2-1 deficit behind the strength of goalie Kevin Carr's 29 saves.
"In the third period we didn't play with enough hunger to keep the puck out of the back of our net, and same in overtime," Utah coach Tim Branham said. "Kevin Carr made some great saves and that's what goalies are supposed to do. We need to come back Saturday with the same effort we demonstrated in the first period and carry it for 60 minutes."
With the Aces trailing by a goal, they began to apply offensive pessure on the Grizzlies and were rewarded for their efforts when Tim Coffman tied the contest. With overtime looming, Aces forward Ryan Trenz sealed Utah's fate, claiming the two points on the table and relegating Utah to one.
Although Alaska's Tim Wallace broke a scoreless tie, the Grizzlies recovered with a pair of goals to claim a 2-1 lead. With nothing separating Jon Puskar from a goal except Aces goalie Kevin Carr, Alaska defenseman Nolan Descoteaux pulled Puskar to the ice.
That's when the fans in attendance were treated to hockey's most exciting play: the penalty shot. And Puskar didn't disappoint, beating Carr high glove-side. Minutes later, Austen Brassard blazed up the ice and fired a successful shot past Carr to give Utah its first lead of the night.
Despite neither team registering a goal in the first period, it was the Grizzlies, with crisp and efficient passing, who controlled the first frame. Utah stifled Alaska's offense, holding the Aces to a meager six shots on goal, and didn't allow a shot for the first nine minutes of play. Utah had two stellar chances to get on the board but Alaska goalie Kevin Carr made a pair of mesmerizing saves, denying Zac Larraza and Brassard.