They say across any sport that against the very best teams, no lead is safe. The Idaho Steelheads happen to be one of those teams. The Utah Grizzlies, in possession of a 2-1 advantage in the third period, saw that lead evaporate courtesy of Zack Andrusiak. The Idaho forward not only scored the tying goal, but broke the hearts of 7,116 fans in attendance when he fired the game winner in overtime, garnering two late goals and ultimately a 3-2 win for his club.
“Protecting our third period leads haven’t been good,” head coach Tim Branham said. “We have too many turnovers in key areas and it’s unacceptable. Everything that they got we gave them. We have to make sure that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot. That’s a good team over there and it’s a good battle each and every night. Hockey can be a very simple game and at the end of the day we have to take better care of the puck.”
When two teams face each other 16 times in the course of a season, there is bound to be bad blood between them. The tension culminated early in the contest when Idaho’s Colton Saucerman elbowed Utah captain Taylor Richart, resulting in a five minute major. The Steelheads possess the league’s best penalty kill unit, but that didn’t faze Utah as Griffen Molino blistered a shot past Idaho’s Tomas Sholl. As it turned out, the Grizzlies power play was just getting started when, during the second period, defenseman J.C. Brassard skated into open ice, and rifled the puck for Utah’s second goal of the evening.
Early in the contest, the referees huddled together and went to the replay monitor to discuss whether a shot by Idaho defenseman Ondrej Vala crossed the red line. After a brief delay, the decision was that it was a good goal, giving the Steelheads the early lead, until the Grizzlies bounced back.
“We’re coming together day by day and getting better,” Molino said. “We have a close group with a lot of guys that are trying to make a name for themselves and the team. We just need to clean some things up and protect the puck better. It was a hard fought game on both sides but we can’t afford to give those points up.”