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Though they've just survived by the skin on their teeth in winning the first three games of the Turner Cup Finals, the toughest part may yet be ahead of the Utah Grizzlies.

With an overwhelming 3-0 lead and having the next two games at home - including tonight's 7 p.m. faceoff at the Delta Center - it seems inevitable that the Grizz will repeat as IHL champions. And claiming the title is already a done deal - that is if history has anything to say about it.History doesn't care that the Solar Bears barely lost in sudden-death overtime in the first two games, or that if a bounce here or there had gone their way the series could be flip-flopped. History just knows that no IHL team has ever rebounded from a three-game deficit to win a series.

But, if there's one thing the first-year Orlando Solar Bears don't care about it's history. In fact, they've already rewritten it a few times during the playoffs.

The never-say-die Solar Bears were forced to win the final two games of their first three series, which was something that had never been done before. Then, with their series victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones, they became the first expansion team in league history to claim the Eastern Conference championship.

"Adversity for our hockey club seems to be there all the time," said Orlando coach Curt Fraser, still gleaning a small glimmer of hope. "We're used to this and I know our guys will come out and play better than we did (Thursday)."

But overcoming a one-game deficit three times - though it was a remarkable accomplishment - pales in comparison to what the Solar Bears are up against now.

Utah coach Butch Goring calls it "Grizzly Magic." And that certainly fits considering the Grizzlies uncanny knack of pulling wins out of a hat and getting the job done when it counts in the playoffs.

"When we need a big goal, we're getting it. When we need a big save, Tommy Salo's doing it," said Goring.

Added Utah center Micah Aivazoff: "You need great bounces and great goaltending to win in the playoffs and we've gotten both."

And though they won't admit it by actually saying the word "sweep," the Grizzlies are hoping to become a part of recent history. Including their Turner Cup run last year, four teams in the 1990s have swept through the Finals on their way to a championship.

"We don't want to drag this on," said Utah forward Scott Arniel. "Let's not give them any hope or any light. We've got 'em down, we've got to keep them down."



Turner Cup Finals

Orlando vs. Utah

(Grizzlies lead series 3-0)

Game 1 Utah 3, Orlando 2

Game 2 Utah 4, Orlando 3

Game 3 Utah 4, Orlando 2

Game 4 7 p.m. tonight, Delta Center

Game 5 * 7 p.m. Tuesday, Delta Center

Game 6 * June 14, at Orlando

Game 7 * June 15, at Orlando

* - if necessary