The teams combined for 30 penalties for 110 total minutes, including game misconducts at the 20-minute mark of the third period for Idaho's Andrew Conboy and Utah's TJ Battani.
Utah took advantage of two fortunate bounces in the first period to get two goals. First, on the power play, a point shot sprung straight back off the end boards to the left edge of the crease at 4:15 of the first to Vincent Scarsella for a power-play goal to put Utah on the board.
Then, at 12:16, DJ Jelitto's attempt to wrap around the Idaho net rolled off his stick perfectly onto the blade of Gentry Zollers, who buried his first ECHL goal to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead after one period.
Idaho tried to climb back in the second period but Austin Fyten's slot shot rang off the crossbar and Dell robbed Anthony Nigro at the right-wing post to keep the game 2-0. Then, at 9:05, Idaho's power play unit gave up a goal when Mitch Wahl's cross-ice pass was deflected by Utah's Martin Lee. Brent Gwidt picked up the loose puck and led a short-handed, two-on-one charge that ended in a Jelitto goal from the right circle to up Utah's lead to 3-0.
Idaho would again have chances in the third. Tommy Grant's power-play shot from in close also clanged off the post and then, moments later, a Grant bomb from the right circle was somehow flagged down by a scrambling Dell in front of the net.
Frustrations boiled over late as the two teams combined for 45 penalty minutes at the 20-minute mark of the third period, including fighting majors for Conboy and Dalton Reum on the Idaho side. Conboy (25) and Battani (29) would wind up combining for nearly half of the game's total penalty minutes.
Pat Nagle took the loss despite making 35 saves on 38 shots. Dell was a perfect 27-for-27. Both teams had seven power-play opportunities, Idaho was 0-7, Utah was 1-7.
The two teams travel down I-84 to West Valley City tomorrow for a Saturday-night tilt at the Maverik Center. They'll play again Monday afternoon before Idaho returns home on Sunday, January 26, to host Bakersfield.
The Steelheads and Grizzlies meet up again Friday in Boise for Blue Cross Knit Cap Night. Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office at 208-331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Tommy Grant
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:
1) Aaron Dell (UT)
2) Vincent Scarsella (UT)
3) Phil Mangan (UT)