When the Allen Americans come to town, you’d better be prepared to bring your “A” game if you expect to come out on top. With the Utah Grizzlies having attained points in 20 of its’ last 23 games, no better indicator of Utah’s climb up the standings ladder than a matchup with the two time Kelly Cup champion and first place Americans. Both teams are noted for offensive fireworks and Friday night’s contest didn’t disappoint. With the score tied 4-4 in the third period, it appeared that the Americans scored as time expired but the goal was a fraction late and waved off. In the shootout, Monday night’s hero, Mitch Maxwell, would be called upon again to deliver the game winning goal. Maxwell would strike gold for a second time in as many games, winning the contest for Utah, 5-4.
“It helps to be put in the situation and I’m sure every guy on the team would like to get that opportunity but it’s been a lot of fun,” Maxwell said. “You always get up for the first place team and we’ve developed a bit of a rivalry with them. We’ve just got to keep getting better and not get complacent tomorrow.”
The Grizzlies took a seemingly commanding 4-2 lead with a pair of goals just 12 seconds apart by Peter Tischke and Brandon Saigeon as the crowd barely had time to catch its’ collective breath. It was Saigeon’s second goal of the night and it appeared momentarily that Utah would win comfortably. But first place teams do what first place teams do and battle back. Allen’s Josh Brittain would cut the deficit to one and Alex Breton would capture his second on the night to tie the contest and ultimately send it to overtime.
For all of Allen’s prowess and pedigree, Utah has played well against the Americans this season. Having accrued 8 of a possible 10 points in five contests against their divisional rival, the Grizzlies confidence continues to surge.
“These games can go either way and they’re a great team and so are we,” head coach Tim Branham. “We’re learning our lessons through winning. You just try to contain a team like that and you’re not going to shut them out completely. We’ll take the two points and regroup for tomorrow. We’re just focused on playing good hockey and continuing to improve.”