Utah ends the regular season in a shootout as playoffs approach
WEST VALLEY CITY — The Grizzlies fought hard all night in their regular season finale, but came up just short as they fell to the Steelheads 3-2. It was the ninth time this season that the two teams played to a one goal win.
“It is what it is, we had a hell of a regular season, and now the real work starts” said head coach Tim Branham.
Fans who thought Saturday night’s game between the Utah Grizzlies and Idaho Steelheads was going to be just free skate on the ice as both teams already knew their destination in the playoffs were misinformed.
The “hometown boy” himself D.J. Jelitto scored his seventh goal against the Steelheads on the season as the Grizzlies were on an early power play, Andrew O’Brien found Jelitto wide open to start the night off with the early lead.
Idaho tied things up late in the first period, and after the goal, Danick Paquette crashed a Steelheads player into the boards and was given a five-minute boarding penalty which included a game misconduct and an ejection.
“Losing him early hurts us, I didn’t think it needed to get chippy like it did” said Branham. “I sure hope it’s not a suspension (on the hit). I wouldn’t be surprised if it is since its Danick Paquette.”
Anaheim prospect Charles Sarault has been really exciting to watch since joining the Grizzlies and on Saturday it was no different as Sarault set up Martin Lee to retake the lead in the second period.
Aaron Dell stopped 29 of 31 shots. Branham said of his play, “I thought he played really, and we are looking for a good playoff run.”
The only playoffs in Utah this spring will be at the Maverik Center. Next weekend, the Grizzlies will host the first games of the first round against either the Colorado Eagles or the Bakersfield Condors. The Grizzlies when 9-2 against the Eagles and 2-2 against the Condors in regular season play.
The Grizzlies went 23-6-2-5 at home this year, the fewest home loses since 1994-95. “It’s great have home ice advantage and (be) playing so well at home,” Branham said.
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.
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