The hockey gods have not been kind to the Grizzlies to this point. Utah has been plagued with nonstop travel, crippling injuries and bad luck. A return to the Maverik Center is just what the doctor ordered.
The Grizzlies begin a four-game home stand on Friday. They capped a long road stretch, in which they played seven of eight games away from home, by taking three of four points at San Francisco last weekend. Utah downed the Bulls 5-3 on Saturday and it seemingly had the two-game sweep locked up on Sunday, but it was not to be. Chaos in the final second robbed the Grizzlies of victory. Clinging to a 3-2 lead with time winding down, Utah had just one play to kill. The Bulls managed to scoot the puck into the net as time expired. Utah insisted the goal came too late, but the protest was to no avail. San Francisco ended up winning in the shootout.
"Three things went against us on that final play," Grizzlies coach Kevin Colley said. "The clock didn't start right when the puck dropped, it was kicked into the net, and it came late. It's tough on the refs because there is no horn in that building, and there is no replay. That extra point could mean a lot in April, but we have to get past it."
Colley did say they were happy to get three points out of the weekend. The team has also been satisfied with the way it has played offensively and on special teams. The key deficiency has been in the net. With goalkeeper Andrew Engelage still day-to-day with an injury, the Grizzlies have been allowing too many goals.
In an effort to remedy that problem, Utah acquired rookie goalie Shawn Hunwick from the South Carolina Stingrays.
"He will create energy and momentum for us," Colley said. "He can be a game-changer for us by making saves that a lot of guys wouldn't make."
In a separate deal, Utah announced on Thursday that scoring threat and former South Carolina forward Chris Higgins has joined the team. Both Higgins and Hunwick will make their Utah debuts on Friday as the Grizzlies host the Alaska Aces.
Aces at Grizzlies
P Friday, 7 p.m.
Radio • 1320 AM