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Utah Grizzlies forward Jon Puskar recorded the first hat trick of his career, leading the hosts to a 6-2 victory against the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday night at the Maverik Center.

The win in front of more than 3,500 fans keeps the Grizzlies seven points behind Alaska for fourth place in the Mountain Division.

Utah, with 40 points this season, is four points behind Quad City for eighth place in the Western Conference.

"It feels great because it's something I've never done in my professional career and it's exciting to happen," Puskar said. "But I owe it to my teammates. We've got a great group of guys and we're confident. Good things are clicking for us right now and whatever situation comes, good or bad, we roll with it."

A big second period was the key for the Grizzlies, who led 1-0 after the first period on a Ralph Cuddemi goal.

After Wichita tied the game in the second period, Utah scored four times in the final 10 minutes before the second intermission. Puskar scored the first two goals of Utah's period, then Cuddemi scored his second goal of the night. Michael Pelech's 10th goal of the season and first in the game gave the Grizzlies an eventual 5-2 lead going into the third period.

"We've got a lot of talent up front and I'm fortunate to be behind the bench and be confident with any of the guys I put on the ice," Grizzlies coach Tim Branham said. "Our boys are playing great and they're buying into the system and they didn't let up the entire game."

Puskar achieved the hat trick at the 15:16 mark of the third period, causing a scattering of hats to shower down upon the ice as Puskar was treated to an ovation.

Ryan Faragher got the win in goal for the Grizzlies, making 18 saves. Austen Brassard had two assists for Utah, which has won two games in a row and six of its past 10. —

ECHL standings

EASTERN CONFERENCE

North GP W L OL SL Pts GF GA

Manchester 41 26 10 3 2 57 162 127

Reading 39 22 14 1 2 47 139 112

Brampton 39 21 14 2 2 46 139 142

Wheeling 38 21 14 3 0 45 135 116

Adirondack 38 19 12 4 3 45 132 121

Elmira 39 9 25 5 0 23 88 150

South GP W L OL SOL Pts GF GA

Florida 39 27 9 1 2 57 141 108

South Carolina 39 22 14 2 1 47 114 100

Orlando 41 20 15 4 2 46 149 150

Greenville 41 21 16 3 1 46 124 137

Cincinnati 40 18 18 4 0 40 112 116

Atlanta 40 16 18 5 1 38 138 149

Norfolk 39 13 22 4 0 30 102 140

Western Conference

Central GP W L OL SOL Pts GF GA

Toledo 40 30 8 1 1 62 166 115

Fort Wayne 40 23 13 4 0 50 150 120

Tulsa 46 23 19 4 0 50 133 133

Quad City 40 21 17 0 2 44 118 125

Kalamazoo 41 19 18 1 3 42 114 138

Wichita 37 15 20 1 1 32 106 131

Indy 41 13 25 1 2 29 102 154

Mountain GP W L OL SOL Pts GF GA

Allen 44 26 15 2 1 55 161 126

Idaho 41 24 12 3 2 53 142 130

Colorado 42 24 14 1 3 52 143 130

Alaska 38 21 12 1 4 47 129 121

Utah 41 18 19 3 1 40 129 143

Missouri 41 16 18 2 5 39 129 146

Rapid City 39 14 18 7 0 35 123 140

Wednesday's games

Wheeling 7, Toledo 6, OT

Fort Wayne 1, Elmira 0

Norfolk 4, Manchester 3, OT

Allen 3, Florida 2

Missouri 5, Cincinnati 4

Utah 6, Wichita 2

Colorado 3, Tulsa 2

Idaho at Alaska, late

Thursday's games

Allen at Orlando, 5 p.m.

Greenville at Atlanta, 5:05 p.m.

Friday's games

Brampton at Kalamazoo, 5 p.m.

Reading at Adirondack, 5 p.m.

Fort Wayne at Elmira, 5:05 p.m.

Florida at South Carolina, 5:05 p.m.

Manchester at Norfolk, 5:30 p.m.

Rapid City at Indy, 5:35 p.m.

Quad City at Wheeling, 5:35 p.m.

Greenville at Atlanta, 5:35 p.m.

Cincinnati at Missouri, 6:30 p.m.

Tulsa at Utah, 7 p.m.

Wichita at Colorado, 7:05 p.m.

Idaho at Alaska, 9:15 p.m.

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