WEST VALLEY CITY — If the Grizzlies' game with Hershey Friday is a preview of a potential first-round playoff series — which could very well happen — Utah fans should leave their April calendars blank.
The Grizzlies and Bears played another thrilling hockey game before an announced sell-out at the E Center, with Hershey prevailing 3-2 in overtime.
It came just two days after they skated to a 3-3 tie.
"The last couple of games it's been like kissing your sister," said Utah's Greg Hawgood, who scored the goal late in the third period that forced overtime. "For everyone to compete that hard and not get the result is tough."
Hershey's Eric Bertrand scored the game winner 1:12 into overtime by slapping in a bouncing puck pass from Steve Brule.
The Grizzlies really missed a chance to gain ground on Hershey, the team they're chasing for sixth place in the Western Conference standings. The top six seeds earn first round byes.
Entering the game, the Grizzlies trailed the Bears by three points, and could've moved to within one point with a victory. Instead, they'll settle for one point for the overtime loss.
More importantly for the Bears, they moved into a tie with Norfolk for the lead in the South Division with 79 points.
Justin Cox, playing in his first game since fracturing his hand on Feb. 21, made sure his return to the ice was a memorable one by scoring his first goal of the season 3:20 into the game.
The Grizzlies lead was short-lived though as Hershey defenseman Bryan Muir equalized by slapping in a rebounded shot by Eric Bertrand at 13:48 of the first period.
The score remained 1-1 until early in the third when Utah's Dylan Gyori poke-checked the puck past the goalie during a scramble near the net for an apparent goal. The ref initially ruled it a goal, but after consulting with his linesman, he concluded that Barrett Heisten used his hand to pass the puck while laying down on the ice.
Despite the frustration, the Grizzlies continued to pepper Hershey goalie Phil Sauve, who ultimately saved 42 shots.
With 8:34 left in the game, the Bears went ahead 2-1 on a goal from Brule, but Hawgood responded three minutes later on a precision pass from Gyori to force overtime.
The Grizzlies won't have much time to mope. They'll head to San Antonio for a Saturday and Monday night game against the Rampage.
"We're 0-for-Texas this year," said Hawgood.
Utah has played six games in Texas this year, with four losses coming at Houston and two more at San Antonio.
GRIZZ NOTES: Utah defenseman John Erskine was called up by the Dallas Stars Friday. Mark Wotton, another defenseman, left in the late in the second period with a sprained wrist he suffered after being checked into the corner glass.