Although the Allen Americans entered Saturday night’s contest against the Utah Grizzlies with a comfortable first place lead in the Mountain Division, in five contests against the Grizzlies, they had yet to defeat Utah in regulation. In yet another closely contested contest, ultimately the sixth time was the charm for the Americans. In a game that was closer than the final buzzer indicated, with the help of two empty net goals in the waning moments, Allen defeated Utah 6-3.
“I thought our guys played really well,” head coach Tim Branham said. “I’m proud of the way they played and battled really hard. Our players played well and we only gave up 24 shots. It was a choppy back and forth game and we’ll regroup and go on the road and get some wins.”
The third period began with Utah trailing 3-2 and the deficit would increase when Josh Brittain found the back of the net. Only 29 seconds would transpire, however, until Utah’s Jack Jenkins would breathe life into the Grizzlies to cut the deficit to one. Utah had little choice but to pull goaltender Mason McDonald and Allen would rub salt in the wound with two empty net goals by Tyler Sheehy and Jared VanWormer.
In a second period mired by a slew of penalties, clock malfunctions and fights, Allen emerged the victor of the session with a pair of goals to the Grizzlies one. Stepan Falkovsky and Jordan Topping would provide the spark for the Americans, ensuring that they would enter the third period with the lead. Utah’s Josh Dickinson, fired a beautiful top shelf goal for the Grizzlies second of the night. Monday and Friday night’s hero, Mitch Maxwell, who scored the game winner on both of those nights, brought the crowd to its feet with a thunderous right hook during a fight.
If there is anything that can be complained about during this sensational run in which the Grizzlies have achieved standings points in 21 of their last 24 games, it could be getting off to slow starts. Tonight was not the case, however. Utah fired the first five shots of the contest and were eventually rewarded when defenseman Connor Yau got the home team on the board. It was extra special considering it was Yau’s first professional goal. The Grizzlies had some trouble clearing a puck during a penalty kill late in the period and paid the price when Allen’s Brett Pollack tied the contest.