WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Colorado Eagles defeated the Utah Grizzlies, 5-4, in a shootout, overtaking the home team for sole possession of second place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. It was another close contest between the evenly-matched teams in the first of three games in four days between them. Colorado came back from several deficits throughout the game and forced overtime by scoring a shorthanded goal late in the third period.
The Eagles got off to a fast start with a goal just 17 seconds into the contest, but the Grizzlies scored three unanswered goals in the period to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. The first goal came courtesy of Riley Nelson as the Eagles’ captain deflected a Jason Beatty shot into Andrew Engelage, then put home the rebound when it fell to the ice.
Utah countered at 2:51 when Justin Dowling put home a Cody Lampl rebound from the low slot. They then took the lead with a power-play goal at 7:14. On the play, Blair Yaworski found Matt Reber with a back-door feed just four seconds before the man-advantage was to expire. Yaworski then made it 3-1 just over two minutes later when he won a battle in the crease with Jon Landry and punched the puck past Kyle Jones.
Colorado battled back with two goals in the second stanza to knot the game at 3 heading into the third period. Beatty cut Utah’s lead to 3-2 at 3:17 following a faceoff in the left circle of the offensive zone when he threw the puck on net and it made its way through heavy human traffic and past a surprised Engelage. Then at 17:10, Nelson and Kevin Ulanski worked a give-and-go through the right circle to produce the tying goal on a power play.
The Grizzlies took a 4-3 lead midway through the third period when Jeff LoVecchio scored after a failed wraparound attempt. With time running out, Utah looked to ice the contest with a late power play, but it was Colorado that struck instead to force overtime. On the play, Chad Costello took a turnover into the offensive zone and had his rebound put home by Michael Forney with a knuckler from the left point.
The overtime period saw several near-goals as Forney just missed the net off a fancy feed from Costello, Beatty swept a puck off his own goal line behind his netminder, Mitch Fadden hit the post on a gaping net and Jones stopped LoVecchio on a late breakaway. But with neither team able to capitalize on its chances, the game went to a shootout — the fourth in seven meetings this season between the teams, and the third in a row.
In the shootout, three Eagles players were able to beat Engelage, while just two were able to get a puck past Jones, giving Colorado the win in the best-of-five format.
The teams will play again in Utah Friday night, then in Colorado on Saturday night.