WEST VALLEY CITY Utah forward Justin Bourne struck early and often for the Grizz, tallying a hat trick, but it wasn't enough as the Grizzlies dropped their third straight game, 7-5, to the Las Vegas Wranglers at the E Center Saturday night.
"I don't think I had one in college, so that's my first hat trick in five years," the Utah rookie said.
Taking advantage of multiple Wranglers penalties, the Grizzlies scored on two of four power-plays in the first period. Bourne scored his first goal of the night at the 8:40 mark, picking the corner after a deflection. Las Vegas answered back with a controversial goal less than a minute later, when Aki Seitsonen nudged the puck across the line just as multiple players crashed into the goal and goalie, knocking the goal off its blocks.
Later in the period, Scott Burt smacked another one in for Utah, but once again Las Vegas answered right back when Peter Ferraro came flying up the side and hit it over to Chris Ferraro, his brother, who was heading straight up the middle and put it in for a relatively easy score.
In the second period, it was all Bourne for the Grizzlies. Las Vegas struck first when Josh Sciba scored off an excellent assist by Kelly Czuy, who was falling down between two Utah players as he sent the puck over the Sciba at the corner of the net. Utah scored off an even more impressive assist a little over a minute later, though, when Grizzlies captain Travis Rycroft somehow sent the puck from behind the net to Bourne, who was streaking from the side through to the middle.
Aaron Power scored for the Wranglers later in the period with a straight up the middle power-play goal. Bourne then got his hat-trick goal at the 17:59 mark shortly after a Utah power-play ended. With three Grizzlies streaking up the ice, Trevor Smith sent the puck from the right-side over to Bourne, who slapped it in from the middle.
Smith assisted on three Utah goals on the night.
"We've got Bourne playing with Smith, who has made a lot of good players better," Utah head coach Jason Christie said.
"Playing with Trevor Smith is just so easy," Bourne acknowledged. "He just hounds the puck."
With the game tied headed into the third, the Grizzlies fell apart with about 10 minutes remaining.
"We just started puck-watching and left a guy in the slot," Christie said. "It was a breakdown and it's frustrating because it's something we've worked on. We've got to stay focused for 20 minutes."
The Wranglers scored three goals in the period, including an empty-net goal. Rob Sirianni put in the final Utah goal with 12 seconds left.
"I think everyone is frustrated because we can see the potential in the room," Bourne said.
"We've got to make sure to build on how hard we battled," Christie said. "We've got to read plays better and stop puck-watching."The Grizz wrap up their 10-game homestand with games this week against Fresno on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.