Utah coach Butch Goring wasn't kidding when he said the Grizzlies and Kansas City Blades have seen enough of each other.
In the first period of Utah's 2-1 victory at the E Center Friday, the teams combined for 82 penalty minutes and a pair of ejections."It was very emotional," said Grizz center Chris Taylor, who celebrated his 26th birthday by scoring the game-winning goal at 1:11 of the third period.
Though it was just their third meeting this season, the squads have met in the International Hockey League playoffs each of the past three years. And, as if drawn together by fate, are on a collision course for another postseason pairing - good news for Utah, which has yet to lose to Kansas City in a playoff series. The Grizz (41-17-7) are currently seeded third in the Western Conference, while the Blades (31-26-9) are sixth.
Mark Lawrence gave the Grizz a 1-0 lead at 3:06 of the first period when he netted his team-record 16th power-play goal of the season. The shot, however, failed to pack the punch, make that punches, that followed just four minutes later.
Utah's Darcy Loewen and Kansas City's Jason Cirone wound up fighting inside the Blades bench during a brawl that delayed the game for several minutes and led to the ejection of both players. In addition, Rhett Trombley of the Grizzlies and Shawn Heins of the Blades each drew five-minute penalties for fighting.
"It was like a bar-room brawl," Goring said. "Loewen and Cirone started it off with a bang and it never let up. It was like a playoff game out there."
Trailing 1-0, Kansas City evened the score at 10:53 of the second period.
Dave Chyzowski's even-handed goal was the lone shot to get past Grizz goalie Philippe DeRouville who wound up making 31 saves.
The teams meet again tonight at 7 in the E Center.
SLAP SHOTS: The attendance was 7,922 . . . Jazz center Greg Ostertag attended the game . . . Utah added defenseman Brett Larson to its roster.
The 25-year-old had 27 points in 49 games this season with the San Diego Gulls of the West Coast Hockey League . . . Winger Dan Plante and defenseman John Namestnikov were called up by the parent New York Islanders. The Grizzlies have had eight NHL call-ups in the past six weeks . . . Utah has returned defenseman Mark Hilton to El Paso of the WPHL . . . Houston visits the E Center Wednesday with San Antonio coming to town for games next Friday and Saturday.