Game Day Blog

March 31: Game Day

03/31/2010 8:08 AM - Adrian Denny
While the Grizzlies enter tonight with a magic number of three points, which is the combination of at least a Utah win, an Ontario overtime/shootout loss or an Ontario loss and a Utah shootout/overtime loss, it was brought to my attention today that the magic number is actually two points.

Got this email this morning, from ECHL Director of Communications Joe Babik, who gives credit where credit is due.

“Just to let you know that if you guys win tonight you will clinch a spot in the playoffs.  Bakersfield Head Coach Marty Raymond brought this to our attention yesterday.  Since Ontario and Vegas are playing each other the last three games, one of them will essentially knock the other out.  Even if all three games go to OT, it is impossible for both teams to pass everyone else in the conference.  So, in essence 75 points guarantees a playoff spot, not 76.
Let me know if you have any questions.

However that doesn’t cement the playoff seeding, which is changing on a daily basis and got a little crazier last night. Stockton moved into a first place tie in the Pacific with Bakersfield with a 6-4 win last night in Condors Town. The two teams play again tonight in Stockton, with the winner earning sole possession of first place. Idaho also defeated Alaska 2-0 to end their 13-game unbeaten streak at home. The Steelheads shorthanded group included two players brought in from Fairbanks for the midweek series.

A win tonight, and an Alaska loss in regulation also puts Utah in second place in the West Division.

The Grizzlies tonight will go back with goaltender Mikko Koskinen who gets ready for the stretch run with Utah. He will continue to be evaluated daily in regards to his ice action for the following contest.

Utah will look to set the tone early tonight against a Salmon Kings team who has really struggled as of late, dropping twelve of their last 15. The alarming fact there is that Victoria, who is one of the top home teams (22-10-0-1) in the league, was swept by Idaho 17-4 in three games March 10-13; their last home series.

The Grizzlies played three-straight shootouts against the Salmon Kings here in February and all eight games this season between the two have been tied in the third period at least at some point. Five of the contests overall have gone to shootouts.

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March 27: Game Day

03/27/2010 9:29 AM - Adrian Denny
For the second-straight three-game series at home, the Grizzlies are looking to take five of six possible points. They took five of six from Stockton March 12-14 after dropping the middle contest in overtime as they did last night.

The Grizzlies eight-game unbeaten streak at home (6-0-2-0) is currently two off of the all-time team high when they went unbeaten in ten-straight games from December 26, 1994-February 8, 1995.

Utah continues to see just about everyone get in on the scoring. In eight of their last ten games, Utah has had at least one player record two goals, with seven different players joining that action and Ryan Kinasewich scoring two goals four times in the last ten games.

Dylan Hunter enters tonight with a nine-game scoring streak that is currently the third-longest in the ECHL as he has tallied two goals and eleven assists in this current stretch.

Last night, the Grizzlies team ECHL-high streak of nine-straight games with a power-play goal ended as they had just two opportunities on the one-man advantage. Though with a chance to add an insurance goal in the final three minutes on the power-play, Utah surrendered a shorthanded goal that tied the game and ultimately forced overtime. The Grizzlies will take as many power-play opportunities as possible against the Condors who they are 8-24 against this year at home.

One of the Condors most potent offensive threats has been goaltender Timo Pielmeier who has one goal and two assists in his last three games at the E-Center after adding two assists last night and scoring an empty-net goal December 19 here.

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March 26: Blog Entry

03/26/2010 7:44 AM - Adrian Denny
The E-Center has provided a nice home-ice advantage for the Grizzlies as of late as they have gone 9-1-1-0 in their last eleven home games.

That stretch followed a tough beginning of the year for Utah at home after a 1-3 start in January dropped them to 10-11-1-1 at the E-Center before a 3-1 win over Las Vegas on January 30. Utah has also scored four or more goals in six-straight home games.

For Utah, getting off to a good start has been the beginning of things, while it also could help them get things going again against Bakersfield. Utah is 14-4-1-0 when scoring first at home and 12-1-1-0 when leading after one period at the E-Center. The Condors meanwhile, have lost their last six road games and are 1-8-2-0 in their last eleven road games.  Bakersfield has also been outscored 86-65 in the first period overall this year and led after one period on the road just three times all season.

While the National Conference playoff race is still completely a mess, there is actually something that can happen for the Grizzlies to clinch a playoff spot tomorrow. Should Utah win both games at home this weekend and if Alaska beats Ontario tonight and tomorrow, than Utah would have a playoff spot locked up headed to Canada next weekend.

However, as it stands right now, there is still 13 different playoff possibilities for Utah which includes a best-of-five series against the other six teams either with home ice advantage or not. The 13th option is not making the playoffs. Idaho has already secured a first-round bye

However, it is a Utah team looking to finish strong, having won three of their last four games and also having put up four goals or more in eight of their last nine games and five goals or more in six of their last nine games.

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March 24: Game Day

03/24/2010 8:02 AM - Adrian Denny
Tonight, the Grizzlies return to the E-Center anxious to display their brand new six-foot-seven 21-year-old goaltender in Mikko Koskinen.

With the first goaltender selected in this past summer’s NHL draft, Utah proceeded to outscore Stockton 11-4, while he casually turned aside 73 of 77 shots in overly non-dramatic fashion. This week, Islanders goaltending consultant Sudarshan Maharaj will also be in attendance for the series to watch the organization’s young stud.

The Grizzlies look to keep up their solid home stretch going that has seen them tally an 8-1-1-0 stretch in their last ten home games. Last night on “Grizzlies Live”, Assistant Coach Pat Curcio attributed a good deal of that success to fan support and attendance. One player, who apparently really appears to enjoy playing at the E-Center is Lance Galbraith who has tallied 22 of his 29 points with Utah this year at home; including 10 of his 13 goals.

Ryan Kinasewich has caught fire again for Utah tallying nine goals and four assists in Utah’s last ten games. The
Utah captain's quick trigger has again overtaken him for the league lead in shots. Kinasewich has taken 290 shots on goal in 53 games this year with Victoria’s Wes Goldie having wristed 256 shots in 66 games.

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March 21: Game Day

03/21/2010 9:49 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies, with seven games left in the season, look to finish the year as strong as they’ve finished three-game series this season.

As the Grizzlies get ready to wrap up their second consecutive weekend with three-games-in-three nights, they carry a record of 6-2-0-2 overall and 2-0-0-2 on the road to finish a three-game set. Utah is 3-0 this year as well in the third game of a three-game-in-three-night set.

After a mandatory day off yesterday on the back-to-back, Islanders prospect Mikko Koskinen will get the start tonight for Utah. We saw the Grizzlies develop a swagger as Koskinen showed them what he had to offer making 36 saves on 38 shots in Friday’s  6-2 win.  It’s amazing what an x-factor a hot goaltender can be, as that’s definitely a department that the Grizzlies have looked for consistency in since the first of December.

Utah looks to finish strong against the Thunder, whom they are 6-2-1-0 against this year. In fact, Kevin Colley has had his way against his two closest friends in the league. Colley is 9-4-1-0 as a Head Coach against Stockton Coach Matt Thomas who was the Assistant Coach on the team that Kevin captained that won the 2003 Kelly Cup in Atlantic City. When you factor in the 2008 playoffs, when Colley was an Assistant as Utah dispatched of Fresno where Thomas coached prior to Stockton, Utah is 13-6-1-0 in the last 20 games against him. Also on the 2003 Kelly Cup team was first-year Wranglers Head Coach Ryan Mougenel who Utah went 10-3 against this year.

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