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It's been a while: Grizz win 7th straight game

WEST VALLEY CITY — It's been a while since this kind of thing has happened in the E Center — the home team with a seven-game win streak.

Last season's team didn't do it. The one the season before didn't do it.

But even though Friday's encounter with the Phoenix Roadrunners was closer and lower-scoring than many of the Utah Grizzlies' outcomes this season — this one was 2-1 — it was an ECHL-high seventh straight win for Utah and seventh straight nonwin for the 'Runners.

"We started off 2-3," Utah center Barret Ehgoetz said, "and lost that game in Victoria. It was kind of a turning point, a little bit of a wake-up call for us, and since then we've kind of put our hard hats on and went to work, and we've just been able to get the results."

Ehgoetz got the game-winning goal — the kind that usually goes to linemate Matt Craig, who is tied for the league lead with three — at 13:42 of the third period when he shot from the right-wing circle and never saw the result because a Phoenix defender screened him and possibly the defender's own goalie.

"I was going to go hard up the ice, and James Laux just got the puck over to me. I don't even know where it went in on him. I thought it was under his arm. It was a good feeling," said Ehgoetz of his fifth goal and eighth point of the season.

He and Craig played together in juniors and have formed two-thirds of the Grizzlies' most potent line.

Ehgoetz also had an assist.

Coming off a three-game road trip with such a streak and a day or two off, Grizzlies coach Jason Christie had wondered whether there would be a little letup with players feeling too good, and there was, but it didn't last long enough to hurt.

The Grizzlies and Roadrunners meet again tonight at 7 in the E Center, and the Grizzlies will host fellow expansion club Stockton (Calif.) Thursday at 7 p.m. before embarking on a seven-game road swing.

Doing the ceremonial puck drop for Friday's game was former Salt Lake Golden Eagles' fan favorite Doug Palazzari (1977-78 to 1981-82), who went on to become executive director of USA Hockey and preside over the American team for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. He spent 14 years with that organization.

Palazzari resigned his position with USA Hockey on May 2 after six years. He and his family still live in Colorado Springs, and he said he is still deciding what to pursue next.

He, wife Sara and the Palazzari family were in town for his Thursday-night induction to the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, the first hockey player ever so honored by the group.

Utah struck first Friday as Erikki Rajamaki got his first goal and point in his third game with Utah after being sent here by the St. Louis Blues. Rajamaki scored from midway up the slot on a pass from behind the goal from Ehgoetz at 17:46 of the first period.

Phoenix tied when Chris Hodgson tipped in his first point of the season after teammate Dusty Demianiuk stole a Utah clearing pass at the right point and softly sent a shot toward Justin Eddy's net at 4:50 of the third period.

GRIZZ BIZZ: Friday's game was the first in a Grizzly uniform for two new players, defenseman Brian Escobedo, signed Friday after playing in Stockton and with Christie's Peoria last year, and left wing Ryan Kinasewich, who is related to the first Salt Lake Golden Eagles coach, Ray Kinasewich (1969-70) . . . Goalie Alfie Michaud capped his big week, during which he was named the league's goalie of the week, by being put on seven-day injured reserve with a bad ankle . . . The NHL prize, the Stanley Cup, will be at the E Center on Thanksgiving night for fans to see and photograph. The Cup will be on display during the game that night and may be available during the day, but the Grizzlies haven't learned its complete timetable yet. It is on a tour of the country to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com