We have come a long way since Christmas. The boys battled back. What they accomplished is good, and this is only the beginning. —Head coach Tim Branham
Danick Paquette scored late in the final period of play in power-play fashion for his second goal of the night to help the Utah Grizzlies claim the third-place seed in the Western Conference on Friday night as they beat the Idaho Steelheads 3-2.
“It feels great,” head coach Tim Branham said of capturing third place. “We have come a long way since Christmas. The boys battled back. What they accomplished is good, and this is only the beginning. It’s exciting to be a part of.”
Friday, the Grizzlies (38-24-3-5) captured their highest seeding since the 1999-2000 season in the Western Conference as the Steelheads (38-25-3-4) rolled into West Valley City.
The Steelheads started the night scoring an early goal against Grizzlies goaltender Aaron Dell and Utah was down 1-0.
Paquette has been a big part of the team’s success this season, as he shimmied and shook Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson to get the Grizzlies on the board to tie things up at 1.
Paquette said after the game, “For me, I’m home. It's so much fun to play here (at the Maverik Center) for the fans who cheer for me.”
The Grizzlies weren’t done there, as T.J. Battani, who has been banged up all season, picked a great night to score his first goal of the year, scoring on a short-handed situation that helped Utah take its first lead of the game.
“Yeah,” Branham said when asked if it felt good to snap Idaho’s five-game winning streak, “It feels good to beat any team, not just Idaho.”Comment on this story
Before the puck drop, the Grizzlies announced that Igor Bobkov and Aaron Dell had been named co-MVPs of the team this year for their outstanding play in the net.
Dell was tested early in the game as shots were fired at him from all angles, and he made a few nice glove saves, managing a way to stop 22 of 24 shots as he picked up his 19th win on the season.
Saturday night, these two teams will play one more time to end the regular season.
“We want to win it for our fans, and to play hard. ... We want to get the W like anyone else,” said Branham.
Follow David Winkworth on Twitter @RealDavidVito and listen to his podcast at sportsathomeradio.com for news and notes inside and out state the state of Utah in the world of sports.