The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Wichita Thunder, 5-4, in a shootout Saturday night at Maverik Center before 8,594 fans to wrap up Grizzlies Fight Cancer Presented by Stadler.
More than $21,000 was raised in the postgame jersey auction with all proceeds going to fight cancer. The win was Utah’s fifth in a row.
“In a winning streak they are going to come in all kinds,” said head coach and General Manager Tim Branham. “They did a great job of sticking with it. (They) found a way to win in the end.”
Utah goaltender Sean Maguire stopped all three shots in the shootout as Sam Babintsev scored the only goal in the skills competition in the top of round one.
“You have to give Sean credit,” said Branham. “He hasn't played for a couple weeks. Coming in here, he's kept an amazing attitude. He made such big saves at key times. That's what it's about.”
Trailing 3-2 going into the third period, Utah killed a penalty before tying the contest 7:34 into the third and taking the lead with 8:11 left in regulation as Brad Navin and Austin Ortega assisted Taylor Richart’s (12) equalizer and Rob Mann’s first professional goal that put Utah ahead.
Utah led 1-0 and 2-1 after power-play goals as Jake Marchment (11) and Austin Ortega both scored.
“Our power play got us going. Our penalty kill was good early on,” said Branham. “At the end of the day we battled through a lot of adversity. We stayed composed, we knew we didn't play our best game, we knew we had more in us, we showed it and we got the job done.”
The Thunder tied the game in the second and took a 3-2 lead to the second intermission after being unable to score on a late power play as they tried to make it 4-2.
Austin Ortega (one goal, two assists), Taylor Richart (one goal, one assist), Rob Mann (one goal, one assist) and Brad Navin (two assists) all had multiple-point games.
“We have a dangerous team,” said Branham. “We have a lot of guys who can score up and down the lineup. We have guys who are stepping up to the plate.”
Goaltender Sean Maguire improved to 12-8-1-0 in the win.
The Grizzlies open a four-game road trip Wednesday in Quad City. Faceoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., before the Grizzlies continue in Quad City on Friday and in Indy on Saturday and Sunday.
Utah returns home Friday, March 9, at 7 p.m.