West Valley City, Utah - The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Alaska Aces 5-4 Saturday night at Maverik Center.
Utah took five of six points from Alaska in the three-game series, going 2-0-1-0 to get within three points of Alaska in the Mountain Division with 14 games remaining.
“We took five of six this weekend and we have to be proud of that,” said Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham. “We cut the deficit to three points and there's a lot of hockey to be played. We just need to build on this and move forward.”
Colin Martin recorded a hat trick in the contest on his 16th, 17th and 18th goals of the season and Cam Reid assisted on all three of Martin’s goals.
“The job Colin Martin did was tremendous,” said Branham. “Our goal today was getting traffic at the net. You don't beat goalies straight up anymore and we did a great job of getting traffic.”
Utah took a 1-0 lead 3:37 into the first period as Ralph Cuddemi forced a turnover and got it to Jon Puskar who scored from the right circle on his 19th goal of the year.
Martin jammed in his first of the game 10:45 into the first to make it 2-0 Utah. Phil Pietroniro held the puck in and threw it to the net. Alaska made it 2-1 four seconds after their third power-play of the first period expired.
Utah scored on their first power-play 3:49 into the second period on Martin’s second of the game as Marc-Andre Levesque got the Grizzlies established on the five-on-four.
After Alaska scored two goals in 1:40 to tie the contest at 3, Utah responded 4:08 later on another goal from Martin to take a 4-3 lead.
The Grizzlies took the lead back at 5-4 3:06 after Alaska again tied the game at four 6:02 into the third period. Mathieu Aubin’s 15th of the year and second in three games came from the right circle after Michael Pelech started the play up ice as the Grizzlies then grinded down low. Erik Bradford and Erik Higby added assists.
“Every time Alaska kept coming back with goals, we kept answering,” said Branham. “Definitely a team effort and a character effort tonight.”
Ryan Faragher earned the win in goal for the Grizzlies as despite only seeing 24 shots made some incredible saves.
The Grizzlies open a three-game road trip Wednesday in Florida. Face-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The Grizzlies are back home Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18 to host Colorado at 7 p.m.