WEST VALLEY CITY With 13 seconds left in last Saturday's loss to Las Vegas, Utah Grizzlies' forward Rob Sirianni finally got a goal, just his second in a season that was interrupted by injuries.
"I was in a little bit of a slump, couldn't buy a goal and finally got one," said Sirianni after scoring twice more and getting an assist in Tuesday night's 5-2 Grizzly win over the Fresno Falcons in the E Center.
"It's amazing when you get one the monkey's off the back, and it's amazing how easy the other ones come. It helps when the coach gives you opportunity, and he believes in you. He expects things of you, and that helps, too," said Sirianni, who spent a most productive night on a new line with team captain Travis Rycroft and winger Jason Pitton.
Pitton scored off his own long rebound just 2:36 into the game, followed less than four minutes later by Sirianni's first off a pass from the endboards by Rycroft.
That line scored four of Utah's five goals, Rycroft getting a goal for a 4-1 lead at 14:46 of the second, and Sirianni making it 5-1 at 4:39 of the third. Pitton totaled a goal and an assist and Rycroft a goal and two assists.
"The biggest thing is how Sirianni has played center," said Grizzly coach Jason Christie. "He was good on draws tonight, and he was hard on pucks."
Sirianni had been playing wing, but Utah has had to shuffle the deck. Earlier in the day, high-scoring rookie Keith Johnson was the latest callup to AHL Bridgeport. He joined Micheal Haley, Tyler Haskins, Olivier Labelle, all called up last week, plus earlier callups Scott Ford and Ryan Kinasewich.
Christie was happy with the way his whole team put out effort from start to finish Tuesday.
The same two teams conclude Utah's 10-game homestand tonight at 7 in the E Center. The Grizzlies are then off for nine days before starting a seven-game road trip at Alaska Dec. 28.
"They were given opportunities, and they took advantage of the ice time they got," Christie said of his team, which won for the second straight time against Fresno, now 13-8-3-0. The Falcons ended a seven-game win streak on Sunday at Victoria. They are second in the Pacific Division.
Utah moved to 12-11-0-3 and hopes to be ahead of .500 when it finishes the homestand tonight.
Sirianni said he's been feeling pretty good the last three games after missing five with an injury. Rycroft missed a whole month of games with injury but is getting back his game. The two played a little together last summer in Park City, and Sirianni had played a few games with Pitton before he got injured, so they had some idea of each other's game, but they flowed like they'd been together a long time Tuesday.
"Everyone's so skilled here, so it doesn't really take too long to get used to," said Sirianni. "'Ryks' is an easy guy to play with; he just works so hard and he's just a team guy, so he's a real easy guy to play with, to read off of."
Sirianni said the Grizzlies had worked just as hard in their three losses last week to National Conference leader Las Vegas. "We just made a lot of untimely mistakes. That was the main difference here. After the Vegas series, Coach stressed mental toughness and to always be aware of guys without the puck. I think that happened in today's game."
Utah's third goal was scored by Trevor Smith from Justin Bourne at 9:49 of the second period.