Utah battled the defending Kelly Cup champions Colorado Eagles to a draw through regulation before an unlikely candidate to score a game-winner did so.
Gabriel Verpaelst, a former Grizzlies and now with the Eagles, fired a shot from deep that escaped the pads of Utah goalie Angus Redmond to give the Eagles a 3-2 victory. It was the first time this season that Utah lost after leading at the first intermission.
Turning point • The Grizzlies blew a golden opportunity early in the contest when they were presented with a two-man advantage for 1:39. Playing tentatively, Utah was only able to muster two shots on Eagles goalie Joe Cannata.
First star • Following a four-game stint with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego, Greger Hanson returned in spectacular form. Seizing a puck, Hanson sped around the net and fired for a nifty wrap-around goal in the first period. Hanson later connected on a laser from deep in the zone for the Grizzlies’ second goal.
Second star • Continuing his torrid pace as the Grizzlies leading scorer, Michael Pelech assisted on Hanson’s second goal for Utah. Pelech has 16 points on the season.
Third star • Although Verpaeslt scored the most important goal of the night, fellow Eagles’ defenseman Matt Register accounted for a two point night with assists on Zahn’s and Ratelle’s two goals.
Quoteworthy • “We only played one period of hockey,” Grizzlies coach Tim Branham said. “Had we outworked that team, we could have completely dominated them. We need to make sure that we sustain our work ethic for a full 60 minutes. We weren’t ready to go on the overtime goal.”
What’s next • Utah hosts Colorado again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Maverik Center.