The Utah Grizzlies (38-24-3-5) defeated the Idaho Steelheads (38-26-3-4), 3-2, on Friday night at Maverik Center.
The win clinches the third spot in the Western Conference, and the Grizzlies will host either Bakersfield or Colorado in games one and two of the ECHL’s Western Conference Quarterfinal Series starting next Friday and Saturday at Maverik Center.
Utah outshot Idaho, 27-13, in the final two periods after trailing 1-0 going to the second period.
“Falling down 1-0 early, they battled back and I thought we played a solid game in the second and third periods there,” head coach and General Manager Tim Branham said. “A lot of different guys contributed to this win and it was a huge win.”
Danick Paquette’s 22nd goal of the year as he backhanded a shot home tied the game at 1-1, 13:04 into the second period after Idaho led 1-0 for 24:45. David Vallorani and Charles Sarault picked up assists on the play.
The Grizzlies made it 2-1 just three minutes later as Michael Pelech led a three-on-two up ice with Andrew O’Brien going to the net. Pelech dropped the puck to T.J. Battani who scored shorthanded for his first of the year.
Idaho tied the game 6:05 into the third period on a power-play goal, but Utah scored a power-play goal of its own exactly seven minutes later with 6:55 left in the game. Charles Sarault again found Paquette for his second of the game and 23rd of the year on the power-play, and the Grizzlies held on to win. Vallorani picked up another assist on the game-winning goal for his team leading 16th multiple-point game of the year.
“Playing with two great players (Charles Sarault and David Vallorani) helps a lot. You get great passes and Vallorani and Sarault just got me the puck,” Paquette said. “We wanted the two points, we wanted third place, that was our goal today and it’s always intense against those guys. We came prepared.”
Aaron Dell stopped 22 of 24 shots to improve to 19-7-0-2 in goal for Utah. Before the game, Dell was named the team’s Co-MVP for the 2013-2014 season along with his counterpart Igor Bobkov who is currently on recall to Anaheim and currently assigned to its AHL affiliate in Norfolk.