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Grizz go OT to win home opener

Utah Grizzlies celebrate a goal against the Idaho Steelheads in their home opener on Friday night.
Utah Grizzlies celebrate a goal against the Idaho Steelheads in their home opener on Friday night.
Liz Martin, Deseret Morning News

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies are still losing money as they enter the third year of their life as an ECHL team, but they're not losing as much as in their expensive AHL days, and team owner David Elmore said Friday night before the first puck-drop of the season on E Center ice, "We're going to get it right.

"It may be this year, it may be next year, but we're going to get to break-even, and then we're going to get it into the black."

The Grizzlies got it right Friday night in their home opener, taking the Kelly Cup-champion Idaho Steelheads into overtime after being down two goals in the third period and then winning 5-4 when two-time leading scorer Ryan Kinasewich got a jump with a two-line pass out of the Grizzly zone from defenseman Scott Ford and scored with 2:40 gone in the overtime for Utah's first win of the season.

"We could have easily folded the tents down two," said Grizzly coach Jason Christie, who said Kinasewich has been getting a lot of shots and was told to keep trying.

"We weathered the storm," Christie added of a first period when Utah had a lot of giveaways in its own zone but goalie Mike Mole kept the puck out of the net, "and found a way to keep chipping away."

The 1-3 Grizzlies and 2-2 Steelheads play again tonight at 7 in the E Center for Pink in the Rink night for breast cancer awareness. A portion of the profits go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

One reason for Elmore's optimism is the team's new affiliation with the NHL New York Islanders, who have contributed 10 players to the current roster.

"I think our affiliation will be very important to us," said Elmore. The big reason is depth because when the Grizzlies were independent the last two years, they had a lot of injuries and had trouble finding unaffiliated players to fill out the roster.

Elmore said that, though the Grizzlies stepped backward last season, from making the playoffs the first season to finishing 24th of 25 , he doesn't anticipate big changes should this 2007-08 club have a losing season. "No, I think the Islanders was the change we were looking for," he said.

Elmore also said the team got its expenses under better control recently, and the cash flow rose with an 11 percent increase in attendance last season.

The Grizzlies' first goal of the home season was a partial breakaway by Islander property Justin Bourne, who got a loose puck in the neutral zone and beat everyone down the ice, scoring at 9:12 of the first period. He is the son of former Grizzlies' coach Bob Bourne, a former Islander.

Utah's first two-goal scorer in a game for the season is Scott Burt, the seven-year Steelhead poster boy, released by Idaho over the summer. He halved a 4-2 Idaho lead with a goal from the lower part of the right faceoff circle at 10:14 of the third period. His first gave Utah a 2-1 lead halfway through the second period.

Islander player Michael Haley sent the game to overtime with 14.3 seconds left scoring out of a scramble with the Grizzlies having pulled goalie Mike Mole for an extra skater with :40 left.

GRIZZ BIZZ: The home-opening lineup was goalie Mike Mole, defensemen Andy Sertich and Jeff Dwyer and a line of wings Ryan Kinasewich and Rob Sirianni with center Tyler Haskins ... Elmore lives in Malibu, Calif., and was not allowed home for a couple of days due to the fires. His home did not burn — "I'm very pleased. I love that house," he said — but the fire was right across the street, and the landmark Presbyterian church he attended burned to the ground. Elmore was in Boston when the fire started, and his daughter-in-law saved what she could from the house, mainly personal things like family pictures. It's the second time Elmore's come close to being burned out. It happened about 15 years ago, too.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com