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Stutzel scores hat trick against former club as Victoria answers

SHARE Stutzel scores hat trick against former club as Victoria answers

Salmon Kings 5, Grizzlies 3

WEST VALLEY CITY — Former Grizzly Mike Stutzel holds no grudge with the Utah hockey team.

He just needed to outscore former teammate Justin Cox, who had three points for Utah Friday night as the Grizzlies broke a seven-game losing streak, and he and the Victoria Salmon Kings knew they had to start fast on Saturday after getting kicked on Friday.

Stutzel scored three points in the first period Saturday night and finished with a hat trick and two helpers, scoring on every Victoria goal in the Salmon Kings' 5-3 retribution in the E Center.

The game finished the Grizzlies' quick homestand, and they are off to Phoenix for games Tuesday and Thursday. They don't return to the E Center until Dec. 13.

Stutzel scored Victoria's first, third and fifth goals, all on power plays, and had the primary helper on an even-strength score by Milan Gajic in the first period — and the second assist on a power-play goal to start the second period by linemate F. P. Guenette that made it 4-0.

It stayed that way until Utah got a 5-on-3 power play, and Ryan Kinasewich scored from Cox with 1:58 remaining in the second.

Stutzel's third goal came just 1:22 into the third, but the Grizzlies clawed back a bit on scores at 10:33 by Brendan Cook and 14:36 by Blake Robson.

Stutzel was on the Grizzly roster when they were an AHL team affiliated with Phoenix of the NHL in 2004-05. After 52 games with the Grizz, and just two assists and no goals, he was assigned to their ECHL affiliate in Boise, where he also played last season and scored well against Utah, which by then had dropped down to the AA ECHL.

Stutzel said he wasn't happy with some individuals, likely Phoenix Coyote brass, but he was never upset with the Grizzlies and is close friends with Cox, who also played for Idaho. Cox had a goal and two assists Friday night.

"I had to beat that," Stutzel said.

Really, though, he said he just found himself in the right spots all night Saturday. He had one previous pro hat trick, at Springfield (AHL), before the Coyote farmhands moved to Utah. He's never had a five-point pro game before but felt the need for Victoria to win.

The Salmon Kings had an hour-long postgame meeting in the dressing room Friday, and the lines were changed around a bit to encourage better play, Stutzel said.

Utah coach Jason Christie was pleased with goalie Sean Fields, who made his first start after a month on injured reserve. He had played one game this season, getting hurt at Phoenix. Fields held the Grizz in the game, Christie said, "But he didn't have much in front of him."

Christie complained that his team needs to learn how to play back-to-back with the same intensity and said several players shied from contact.

"We had a couple guys pushing snow because they didn't want to get hit," he said, calling the night disheartening, "big-time. It hurts to play so well last night" and then be overwhelmed the next.

NOTES: Utah added rookie Danny Stewart from Bakersfield in a trade for financial considerations Friday. Stewart made his Grizz debut Saturday in place of D.J. Jelitto, put on the three-day injured list with a "lower-body" ailment ... Team captain Ed Campbell can to return Tuesday following a two-game ECHL suspension for a match penalty, among other infractions, a week ago today at Stockton.

E-mail: lham@desnews.com