Of all 26 teams that comprise the ECHL, there might not be a faster player in the league than Utah Grizzlies’ forward Griffin Molino. Not only is Molino in possession of blazing speed, he has a terrific penchant for depositing the puck in the back of the net. And in Friday night’s contest against the defending Kelly Cup Champions, the Newfoundland Growlers, that’s exactly what Molino did. On Utah’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Night presented by Ford, in support of the Children’s Service Society of Utah, Molino caused it to rain plush animals to begin the scoring and a 1-0 Utah lead. As it turned out, he was just getting started. The Grizzly forward followed that up with another goal in the third, sealing a beautifully orchestrated 4-0 victory for Utah.
“The team has come together and we’ve figured out our identity,” Molino said. “This is the best game we’ve played this year without a doubt. We stuck to a consistent game plan and we’ve bought into the system and it’s evident on the ice.”
Almost more impressive in Utah’s victory was the fact that the club held the Growlers offense, which led the league in goals with an even 100 heading into Friday’s contest, scoreless. That was due to a brilliant effort anchored by Utah’s defensive line and new addition, goalie Martin Ouellette. Ouellette is no stranger to the league. Having been acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Gladiator’s, Ouellette is in the midst of his 6th season, and brings with him a glistening record of 104-51-12. Utah was able to hold Newfoundland’s potent offense to a meager 19 shots on net.
“Our boys played hard, they played the right way and they did everything I’ve asked,” head coach Tim Branham said. “Ouellette made the saves he was supposed to and made the saves he wasn’t. We’re lucky to have him. He’s been to a Kelly Cups final game 7 so there’s no pressure here for him.”
Utah was able to pad its’ lead with a pair of goals by Ty Lewis and Travis Barron. For the 4,738 fans in attendance, this was quite simply the best 60 minutes of hockey the Grizzlies have played this season.
“Our team has played extremely well in so many games and this is one of them,” Branham said. “What stands apart with this team compared to last team is their character is through the roof. Their attitude, work ethic and willingness to be a family is tremendous.”