VICTORIA, British Columbia -- The Utah Grizzlies season came to its heartbreaking conclusion late Friday night, with the Victoria Salmon Kings scoring 48 seconds into the second sudden-death overtime period to win their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Salmon Kings won 2-1 and swept the Grizzlies, but the record doesn't reflect the intensity of the series. Utah had a fighting chance of winning all four games, and were within a goal during the third period during the first two losses only to squander the next two games in overtime.
To put the closeness of the matchup in perspective: Victoria led the series for 74:33, Utah for 72:59.
Simon Ferguson scored first for the Grizzlies on Friday with a power-play goal just 2:44 after the first puck dropped. Brett Parnham and Nick Tuzzolino assisted on the goal, which was Utah's last.
Utah held the lead on strong play from goaltender J.P. Lamoureux, who stopped a season-high 50 of 52 shots. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, Kiel Mcleod was able to slip one past Lamoureux with 1:05 left in the second, and Utah was unable to respond.
Lamoureux saved 18 straight shots in overtime before the series clincher, an unassisted effort from Adam Taylor that occurred after the exhausted Grizzlies defenders couldn't clear their own end.