West Valley City, Utah - The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Idaho Steelheads 4-3 on a snowy afternoon at Maverik Center before 6,092 fans.
“We are starting to see what it takes to have success,” said Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham after his team’s third-straight win. “We were really good against Allen. We found a way today. We're going to rest up because we know that we have a big series coming up."
Utah Goaltender Joel Rumpel stopped a Utah season-high of 46 shots in the game. 46 saves for Rumpel ties the third most in his career. The Utah goaltender stopped all 18 shots that he saw in the first, 16 of 18 in the second period and 12 of 13 in the third period.
“Great group of guys in here and they are easy to play for,” said Rumpel. “It was awesome. It was a fun game. It was bad weather outside, wasn't expecting a great turnout but it was a great crowd and a good game."
Austin Ortega (13) gave Utah a 1-0 lead 11:38 into the first period as Michael Pelech led a four-on-two up ice and Chris Leibinger and Brad Navin (three assists) picked up the assists.
“The first goal we scored was a nice tic-tac-toe goal and the only reason we scored that was because Michael Pelech drove the net,” said Branham. “We are glad to have him back,” said the coach after the Grizzlies leading scorer missed 13-straight games with an injury.
Idaho tied the game at one on their 20th shot 2:04 into the second period before Utah exploded 1:14 later with three goals in a 4:37 stretch to build a 4-1 lead as Pelech (12), Taylor Richart (11) and Ryan Walters (22) all scored.
“The culture and atmosphere on the bench is different,” said Branham. “Jake Marchment and Gage Ausmus have come in and have led the way. Marchment up front and Ausmus on the back end on what it takes to win a game,” Said Branham on the two skaters that he acquired in a trade with Colorado on Thursday.
After a goaltender change, Idaho made it 4-2 1:25 later. Utah and Rumpel held the Steelheads scoreless for the next 27:32 before they cut the lead to a goal with 2:44 left in regulation.
“The rest is the most important thing,” said Branham after Utah’s third win since Friday night. “We will get back at it on Wednesday. The boys see light at the end of the tunnel. They are hungry. If they just take care of business, good things will happen.”
Grizzlies Fight Cancer
Friday and Saturday the Grizzlies team with Stadler to fight cancer. For $20, fans can get a lower bowl ticket to either game, a Grizzlies Fight Cancer T-Shirt, $5 donated to the local organization of their choice fighting cancer and a ticket will be donated to someone fighting cancer or a family member. This offer can purchased at utahgrizzlies.com/fightcancer. After Friday’s game, fans are invited onto the ice to paint the name of someone close to them who has battled or is fighting cancer; donations will be accepted. Saturday, the team will auction off the specialty jerseys that they will wear that weekend with all proceeds going to fight cancer.