WEST VALLEY CITY The Alaska Aces have outscored opponents heavily in the first period, while the Utah Grizzlies have often fallen behind early in this young ECHL season.
"Coach has been harping on us all week about coming out strong and not letting them get to us early," said Grizzlies winger Anthony Battaglia, "and we have to do the same thing (tonight) if we want another 'W.' "
The Aces did score the first goal of the game, but the Grizzlies scored two within the next three minutes Battaglia goaling and assisting and Utah went on to ride strong goaltending from Alfie Michaud to earn a 4-1 victory Friday night in the E Center.
"We came out ready to go. We took it to them trying to get the first goal," said Battaglia, who finished the night with three points and whose line, with Louis Dumont and Jeff Miles, was involved in all four goals.
"We had a little bit of penalty trouble, but we battled for 60 minutes," said Grizzlies coach Jason Christie.
Each team had nine power plays, Utah scoring on two and killing all of its own penalties.
Battaglia and Dumont were also involved in most of the penalty killing work as well as power plays and regular shifts.
"I'm a little tired," Battaglia said, "but we've got to get ready to go (tonight). Tonight means nothing if we don't come out tomorrow hard."
The Aces, who entered the game in second place in the ECHL West, have three former Grizzlies on the club Peter Metcalf, Barrett Heisten and Mike Lee.
Lee took Friday's first penalty, and Heisten had the second Aces penalty, on which Battaglia scored on an assist from defenseman James Laux at 13:58 of the first period to tie the game 1-1.
Battaglia returned the favor less than two minutes later on another power play, passing cross-ice to Laux for a 20-foot shot that scored and put Utah up 2-1.
The Grizzlies had been outscored 11-6 in first periods through their first six games, while Alaska had outscored its opponents 7-1 in first periods.
Alaska, with Cam Keith's score at 12:45 of the first period, has now scored the first goal in six of its seven games and has totaled eight first-period goals to three for its opponents.
Battaglia added his third point of the night at 9:54 of the third period when he helped Dumont plant a slapshot from the point for a 3-1 Utah lead just after the Grizzlies had killed a 5-on-3 power play.
Dumont scored the fourth goal as well, an empty-netter, on the fourth time the Aces goalie left or tried to leave the ice during a penalty-filled final four minutes.The 4-2-1 Aces and 4-3 Grizzlies go at it again tonight at 7 in the E Center, and that game concludes Utah's four-game homestand. Utah will be at Fresno next Friday and at Long Beach next Saturday and Sunday.
GRIZZ BIZZ: West Valley City native D.J. Jelitto was activated from the injured list (shoulder) for the weekend series and started Friday night's game on a line with center Garett Cameron and left wing Brad Herauf. "He gave us energy. That's what you want. He's making a big step here (from juniors)," said Christie . . . The Aces are affiliated with the NHL St. Louis Blues and AHL Peoria Rivermen, who last season were coached by Christie. Two Aces played for Christie last season, ECHL goalie of the month Chris Beckford-Tseu, who did not play Friday, and forward Justin Maiser.