WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Colorado Eagle defeated the Utah Grizzlies, 3-2, taking the first two contests in this week’s three game series. The win marked the seventh straight game in which the Eagles have earned at least a point, and moved them solidly into second place in the Mountain Division, and within three points of second place in the Western Conference.
Once again the Eagles skated short-benched, starting the game with just 13 skaters, and playing the second half of the contest with just a dozen. The Grizzlies were short-benched again as well (suiting up 14 skaters), and the evenly-matched teams finished the game separated by just one shot and one goal.
The teams played an even first period, with the Grizzlies out-shooting the Eagles 9-8. But the goaltending for each team was stout as Kyle Jones and Shane Owen each pitched a shutout through the first 20 minutes of play.
The game only remained scoreless 2:38 into the second period when the red hot Riley Nelson picked off a pass in the Utah zone and found twine from the high slot. Mitch Fadden countered just under five minutes later by sneaking the puck past Jones on a wraparound goal.
The Grizzlies had a golden opportunity to take the lead minutes later after Alex Penner earned an ejection from the game and gave them a five minute power play in the process. But the Eagles’ penalty killers did their job, and with just 22 seconds left in the second stanza, Nelson made their effort even more important by scoring his second goal of the period to give Colorado a 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Colorado extended their lead to 3-1 at 5:33 of the third frame when Aaron Sckneekloth capitalized on a 3-on-2 fast break after Michael Forney made a drop-pass at the top of the left circle. The Eagles were awarded a five minute man-advantage of their own at the end of the game, but it was the Grizzlies that took advantage, inching the game closer to another overtime contest between the teams.
With just 27 seconds left, Cody Lampl gave Utah hope by scoring a short-handed tally from the left slot, but Jones and the Eagles’ defense were able to hold off a final Utah attack to maintain the 3-2 victory.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night in Colorado for the final game of this week’s mini-series.