04/19/2019 10:32 PM - By: Adam Turner
Hat tricks are tough to come by in hockey during the regular season and with defenses tightening up in the postseason, they’re that much tougher to attain. Facing a two games to one deficit against the Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies’ forward Tim McGauley picked a great time to accomplish the feat. Having ratcheted three goals in the contests first 25 minutes, Utah was cruising and with a 4-1 lead it appeared certain that the Grizzlies would capture game four and level the series at 2-2. Not so fast. Idaho rallied for three straight goals and for the third straight game overtime was needed to determine a victor. The first two overtime games went Idaho’s way so surely third time would be the charm for Utah. However, Idaho’s Brad McClure deposited a puck past Utah goalie Kevin Carr and once again it was heartbreak hotel for Utah as Idaho reeled off four straight goals, winning 5-4 and taking a commanding three games to one series lead.
“We played great and then we didn’t play our game,” head coach Tim Branham said. “We stopped doing the little things of winning battles, putting our foot on the gas and playing offensively. It is what it is and we need to regroup and find a way to win a game tomorrow.”
Following McGauley’s heroics that caused fish and hats to rain upon the ice as the fans in attendance “fed the Grizz” and celebrated the hat trick, the home team was cruising. That’s when Idaho gritted their collective teeth and fought back with a pair of goals by Henrik Samuelsson and Steven McParland to reduce the deficit to 4-3 Utah. That’s when things got ugly. Idaho’s Kale Kessy violently kneed Grizzlie forward Ty Lewis that resulted in a five minute major. Utah was unable to take advantage of the penalty and the period ended at 4-3 and it was anyone’s contest.
Samuelsson has been a thorn in Utah’s side not only Friday night but the entire series. Idaho’s lethal weapon blazed the back of the net for his fourth goal of the series and ensured that three periods were insufficient to determine an outcome. With each goal, Idaho increasingly gained confidence and could smell blood. In what could easily be a different series, Utah now finds itself needing to win three straight games to keep their Kelly Cup Championship hopes alive.
“You’ve got to believe,” Branham said. “You have to have faith in every guy standing next to you. You have to believe that you can get this done one game at a time. We’ve got to put our best foot forward and find a way to win.”