Grizzlies win playoff series over Idaho with 3-0 victory

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) – The Utah Grizzlies defeated the Idaho Steelheads 3-0 Monday at Maverik Center to take the best-of-seven series four games to two.

“I’m proud of the effort that the boys put forth,” said Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham. “We were playing a good team, the best team in our division. For us to come in here with a game plan and execute it, I commend them. It’s been a fun group to be a part of. We’re confident right now. We’re just looking forward to the next series.”

The Grizzlies closed the series with three-straight wins in four nights after dropping two of the first three games of the series in overtime.

“The crowd was unbelievable,” said Branham. “The guys couldn’t hear me on the bench because it was so loud. The passion our fans have and the energy that it gives our boys is just tremendous. We love playing here. There is nothing better.”

Grizzlies goaltender Igor Bobkov stopped all 41 shots that he saw in his first career playoff shutout.

“We really appreciate the fans coming, this is the best place to play,” said Bobkov. “Coach told us how to win a playoff game. The recipe is simple. Block shots and play solid defense. We did what we needed to do and that resulted in a win.”

The Ducks prospect stopped 16 in the first, 10 in the second and 15 in the third period. He closed the series by stopping 103 of 106 shots that he saw over the final three wins.

“Bobkov has been absolutely tremendous,” said Branham. “Big saves and they’re the timely saves when you’re losing momentum. The boys battled hard. We got run support for him. There are a few things we can clean up defensively but we’re going to enjoy this one.”

The Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead 5:04 into the first period on a power-play goal from Ryan Hayes and for the second time in three games never looked back after an early goal. Michael Pelech and Mathieu Aubin picked up assists.

“Hayes is a gamer,” said Branham. “That’s why I went out and got him. He’s one of those guys that responds no matter what the adversity is. He responds by scoring, blocking shots and playing good defensively. It’s fun to watch, The energy and leadership he portrays is top notch.”

Utah made it 2-0 7:06 into the second period as Alex Krushelnyski extended his scoring streak to five-straight games as he worked in and roofed one past Idaho goaltender Olivier Roy. Pelech and Aubin picked up two more assists.

“Pelech and Aubin are extremely important on the ice,” said Branham. “They play against top lines, go out onto the ice in any situation and control the puck so well. It took a little bit to get them going but they’ve been tremendous. Great leadership by them.”

Utah made it 3-0 as T.J. Syner centered Ryan Hayes on a late rush with 2:48 left in regulation. Captain Channing Boe also picked up an assist.

“We knew we had a great team,” said Branham. “We had some pieces in the AHL and some pieces injured but once everyone got put together we got focused. We know what we want. We’ve got a lot of guys in the dressing room that have won championships and they’re showing the other guys what it’s all about. The other guys are just following suit.”

The Grizzlies now await the winner of Tuesday’s game 7 in Ontario between the Reign and the Colorado Eagles.

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