By Dan Rasmussen
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – It took the Utah Grizzlies nearly three full playoff games before they found a way to get the puck past Alaska goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux.
However, after 156 minutes on the ice, James Sixsmith finally broke Utah’s scoreless streak when he directed Vladimir Nikiforov‘s long-range shot past Lamoureux near the end of the second period of Game 3 Wednesday evening at the E Center.
The Grizzlies beat Lamoureux with a second goal late in regulation of Game 3 and added a third in overtime to win 3-2 and make their first-round Kelly Cup playoff series with Alaska 2-1.
Heading into Game 4 of the best-of-seven series at 7 p.m. on Friday inside the E Center, Utah hopes it can build on the offensive success it enjoyed against Lamoureux, the ECHL’s goaltender of the year, and level the series at 2-2.
“He was due to let one in, and then the flood gates opened up a little bit,” said Utah coach Kevin Colley. “We got three on a heck of a goaltender. It’s good to see. Hopefully, we’re in his head a little bit, and his confidence is gonna struggle a little bit, and we’ll go after him on Friday and hopefully tie the series.”
According to Nikiforov, who helped create the first goal Wednesday and scored the second, the Grizzlies will be more successful against Alaska’s standout goalie if they shoot away from his glove-side.
“I just noticed that his blocker side is a little bit open,” said Nikiforov. “The second game in Alaska, we shot toward his glove side, and he read it perfect. We’ve got to shoot high up toward his blocker side.”
Not that it will be easy to do, however. To get fully back into the series, Colley and company understand how difficult it will be to beat Lamoureux and company again tonight. “It’s back to work,” said Colley. “It’s gotta be focused. We’ve got to remember how much hard work it took to beat this club (in Game 3), and we can’t go the other way and think that things are gonna come easy.”