WEST VALLEY CITY After sitting out over two months with a cut tendon injury on his hand, Rob Sirianni returned to the Utah attack and promptly scored the first goal of the game at the 11:14 mark taking the Griz to a 1-0 lead over the Idaho Steelheads. But the Steelheads prevailed in the end emerging with a 4-3 victory.
Sirianni initially injected fire into the Griz as they assaulted the Steelhead goalie for an early 10-1 shot lead but only had that one goal to show for it. Kellen Briggs was stopping everything for the Steelheads.
"Give him credit," said Utah Coach, Jason Christie.
Christie agreed that his team came out with a lot of energy but he also said, "A lot of guys have played a lot of hockey lately," indicating that later on in the contest his team may have tired.
A defensive battle ensued after that initial goal and it was the only one scored for nearly 35 minutes into the contest. But once Idaho got on track three goals were scored in a space of 1:11 seconds resulting in a 3-2 Idaho lead at the end of the 2nd period.
After the game, Sirianni's nose was bloodied and he said he thought it was broken. Nonetheless, he was happy to be back saying, "I was originally scheduled to return on March 5, but the doctors cleared me today."
He did say he wished he could have returned in a game played at sea level because he was very tired. But he said, "The guys said this was the fastest pace game we have played in awhile." He added that he felt he is getting his legs under him.
By the end of the 2nd period, Idaho had nearly evened the shot count at 22-20 still for the Griz, but the Steelheads wasted no time putting another score on the board just 1:11 seconds in putting Idaho in front 4-2. Again defenses took over until Tyler Rycroft punched another one in closing the gap to 4-3. Christie called a time out with two minutes left and took his goalie out of net and added another skater but Briggs's big paw caught a couple of shots and it was over.Utah will get three days rest now before they open a four game road trip in Phoenix on Thursday then return home on March 7, to host Fresno.
Utah's Justin Johnson suspended one game
PRINCETON, N.J. The ECHL announced that it has suspended Utah right wing Justin Johnson for one game and fined him an undisclosed amount as a result of his actions against Bakersfield on Saturday.Johnson, who missed Monday's game, was assessed a game misconduct penalty (aggressor and a game misconduct penalty) secondary altercation at 14:23 of the third period.