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The Utah Grizzlies aren't exactly shaking in their skates because they have to play the next three games of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Peoria Rivermen on the road.

After splitting the first two games last Friday and Saturday at the Delta Center, the third-seeded Grizzlies and the seventh-seeded Rivermen will resume their best-of-seven series tonight at the Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center.Game 3, which begins at 6 p.m., will be broadcast live on KAPN-AM 860.

"It may even be an advantage for us," said Utah coach Butch Goring of being on the road, adding that he feels the pressure is often higher on the home team.

The Grizz played well on the road in their first-round series against Kansas City, which had a similar beginning as this one. The two teams split a pair of Delta Center games before heading off to Kansas City. While there, Utah lost in overtime and then forced Game 5 with a solid 3-1 victory.

"We've showed that we can play well on the road, so we aren't scared," Goring said.

The Grizzly players are taking the same attitude with them.

"Sometimes the toughest thing is to relax at home in the playoffs," said forward Scott Arniel, who's leading the Grizz in playoff scoring with five goals and two assists. "It's hard because fans want you to score every time you touch the puck."

Utah and Peoria split their two games at the Civic Center during the regular season, though the Rivermen's win was in a shootout.

The Grizz will need at least one win tonight, Friday or Saturday to bring the series (or possibly the next round) back to the Delta Center.

Sooner or later, Utah's defense is going to need to back up its defense if the Grizzlies hope to repeat as Turner Cup champions. The Grizz still haven't scored more than three goals in a game during the playoffs and are giving up less than two scores a contest.

One thing Utah does have in its favor is momentum. The Grizzlies lacked defensive intensity in the 4-2 Game 1 loss but seemed to regain their emotion in the 3-2 victory in Game 2.

No. 1 seed Las Vegas and No. 5 Chicago are also tied 1-1 in the other Western Conference semifinal, which resumes tonight in Chicago for Game 3.



Peoria vs. Utah

Friday, May 3

Peoria 4, Utah 2

Saturday, May 4

Utah 3, Peoria 2

Wednesday, May 8

Utah at Peoria, 6 p.m.

Friday, May 10

Utah at Peoria, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 11

Utah at Peoria, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, May 13 or Tuesday, May 14

Peoria at Utah, 7 p.m.*

Wednesday, May 15

Peoria at Utah, 7 p.m.*

*-if necessary