WEST VALLEY CITY Facing a team against whom they had produced three come-from-behind victories this season, the Utah Grizzlies decided not to stick to the script.
The results couldn't have played out better.
Utah reversed roles against the Idaho Steelheads burying the defending ECHL champs under a flurry of early goals and cruised to an easy 3-1 victory on Saturday night in the E Center.
Grizzlies coach Jason Christie enjoyed seeing the team taking control on both sides of the puck and holding on to that advantage from start to finish.
"That's how we have to play," Christie said. "We can't be a team that sits back and waits for things to happen."
Utah looked especially sharp for a team that played in Boise only a night earlier and did not arrive in West Valley City until around 3:30 a.m. Saturday.
Whatever sluggishness Utah may have felt did not show up on the home ice. The Grizzlies attacked on offense, and that paid off with several clean looks at the net early.
"As a team, we had to make sure we (came) out and (were) ready at the start of the game," Christie said. "Obviously guys did that today."
Utah went up 1-0 on Trevor Smith's goal about five minutes into the first period. Smith found the back of the net after a shot by Keith Johnson hit the glove of Idaho goalie Kellen Briggs and the puck ricocheted to Smith.
Johnson followed with a goal of his own, rifling the puck over Briggs' right shoulder for a 2-0 lead with six seconds left in the period. Michael Haley added the Grizzlies' final goal at the 4:44 mark in the second period when he fed the puck inside the near post.
The Steelheads did not get on the board until the 14:58 mark in the final period when center Greg Rallo fired the puck in from the near faceoff circle.
Physical play on both sides finally boiled over when a scuffle broke out between Scott Burt and Steelheads left wing Mark Bornersback at the 14:05 mark of the second period. The melee caused a temporary stoppage of play while referees forced several players apart.
Steelheads left wing Lance Galbraith earned a game misconduct penalty for slashing; Burt was awarded the same penalty for fighting and removing his jersey.
Burt, a former Steelhead player, became upset when he saw Bornersback fire the puck at the goal after the referee had blown his whistle. Burt grew angrier when Bornersback tried to charge goalkeeper Michael Mole when he fired the puck back at him."I'm not really considered a fighter," Burt said. "You got other guys to do that. But when things happen, things happen."
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