Having been defeated in overtime for three consecutive games, the Utah Grizzlies entered Saturday night’s contest with their backs against the wall. In a must-win matchup in their series with the Idaho Steelheads, surely game five wouldn’t go to overtime, would it? Alas, it would as 60 minutes of hockey yet again wasn’t sufficient to determine not only a winner, but to see if Utah could force the series back to Idaho. Unfortunately, the hockey gods dealt the Grizzlies a cruel fate as the Steelheads’ Kyle Schempp not only ended the game, but brought the 2018-19 Utah Grizzlies hockey season to a conclusion. The visiting Steelheads skated to a 2-1 victory and ended the series four games to one.
“It’s tough when you have four OT losses that could have gone either way,” head coach Tim Branham said. We had good penalty kills but at the end of the day, we couldn’t come up with the big goal when we needed it. The series started out good but unfortunately we couldn’t overcome overtime.”
Once again, things got off to a promising start for Utah when Joey Ratelle found a crease in center ice and rocketed a shot past Idaho’s Tomas Sholl for a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, though, Saturday’s game followed a similar theme in which the Grizzlies were unable to maintain the lead. James Phelan rifled a laser that escaped the pads of Utah goalie Kevin Carr in the second period, knotting up the contest at 1-1.
An early power play in the extra session appeared promising for the home team as Utah gave themselves several opportunities in overtime to send the series back to Idaho, but for the Grizzlies, it wasn’t meant to be.
In the club’s first year of affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche, Utah rebounded from missing the playoffs in the 2017-18 under the direction of the Anaheim Ducks. It was the Grizzlies’ 12th playoff appearance in the last 13 years and describing that as a success would be an understatement.
“Kudos to the Colorado Avalanche for having all three teams in the playoffs and for all three clubs to have success,” Branham said. “We battled all year and we started out hot but we ran into more injuries than we’ve ever had. Overall it was a good season and I think the fans can see what kind of an organization Colorado is and the help that they give us. The future is bright.”
04/21/2019 - By: Adam Turner