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Summer Blog

Summer Blog Entry September 14, 2018

09/14/2018 1:00 PM - Tyson Whiting

 Friday Summer Blog

By: Tyson Whiting

It’s my first week in the office and it’s been an interesting experience so far. It feels like it’s going to be a good season in Tim Branham’s 6th year as Head Coach and General Manager of the Utah Grizzlies. With Coach Branham's next win, he passes Butch Goring for the most in team history. Both coaches are tied with 178 wins. Goring did it in 4 seasons. Branham got there in 5 seasons but keep in mind that ECHL seasons are 72 games, as opposed to the old IHL days in the 90's where Goring's teams played an 82 game schedule. 

The players begin training camp in a couple of weeks. One of the things that can be said about this year’s team is the motto “Raising the Bar.” The Mountain Division year in and year out is arguably the toughest division in the league. This year shouldn’t be any different. The defending champion Colorado Eagles are now in the AHL and are not in the division anymore. They are being replaced by the Kansas City Mavericks, who the Grizzlies will play 6 times this year.

The Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder  were both solid last year. The Idaho Steelheads have made the postseason 15 straight years and the Allen Americans has made it each of their 4 years in the league. Rapid City played the Grizzlies tough last year.

The good thing about playing in a tough division, is it makes you focused and brings out the best of your team. If you can have success in this division, you should be in a good position with the rest of the league.

One of the things to get excited about is the potential players that will be coming from the Colorado Avalanche and our AHL affiliate, the aforementioned Colorado Eagles. If you are the Avalanche, you want the young players in your organization to learn how to win. It’s also the case in Minor League Baseball with their farm system. There’s something to be said for organizations that place a premium on winning at all levels of their system. The Av’s have shown that sense of urgency and that’s why they have had success in recent years in winning at all levels of the system.

A positive trend over the last few years has been in attendance. The Grizzlies have the best fans in the ECHL and it shows in the attendance totals. We have been in 5th place out of 27 teams in the ECHL for each of the past 2 seasons. Last year we had more than 5,650 fans per game at Maverik Center, including 2 games of over 10,000. There was 10,649 on January 27th vs Tulsa and back to back crowds of over 10,200 to end the regular season against Kansas City.

Last year attendance was the highest for the Grizzlies since they joined the ECHL in the 2005-06 season. 

 2017-18: 5,660 per game (203,990 total), 5th best in the ECHL. 

 2016-17: 5,360 per game (192,949 total), 5th best in the ECHL. 

 2015-16: 5,095 per game (183,415 total), 7th best in the ECHL.

The preseason game on October 5th has $10 tickets general admission. For season ticket holders, contact your ticket rep for free tickets to the game. That game will be against the Idaho Steelheads. The next night the 2 teams switch venues and play at CenturyLink Arena in Boise on October 6th to end the preseason.

Opening weekend for the Grizzlies will be on October 12-13th against the Rapid City Rush. Get your tickets now at the Maverik Center box office, give the Grizz a call at 801-988-8000 or go to utahgrizzlies.com.

Remember last year’s NHL affiliate themed warm-up jersey’s that the team wore pregame? The team will at a later date reveal the look for this year’s warm-up jersey tops. I think Grizzlies fans will like what they look like. 

Summer Blog Entry: September 7, 2018

09/07/2018 3:53 PM - Tyson Whiting

We are getting to the 1 month mark before we begin regular season games at Maverik Center. Earlier this week, the ECHL released the preseason schedule. Once again, it’s 2 games against the Idaho Steelheads on back to back nights.
The Grizzlies home preseason game will be on Friday, October 5th. 7:00 pm puck drop. Tickets for the game will be 10 dollars. You can buy tickets at the Maverik Center box office. Season ticket holders can contact their season ticket rep for complimentary tickets to the game.
In thinking about some of the characteristics to what made the Avalanche ECHL affiliate the Kelly Cup Champions the last 2 years, there are a few things that stand out of what we will most likely see this year.
1.      Good goaltending. It’s no secret that good goaltending wins games. It’s just like a football team having a great defense and a baseball team having a good pitching staff. It’s a great backbone to a successful team. The Colorado Eagles (Former Avalanche ECHL affiliate, now AHL affiliate), had some quality goaltenders last year in Joe Cannata, Lukas Hafner and Sam Brittain. That strength should continue here in Utah.
2.      Scoring depth. The Eagles last year had many great scorers but the key is they got scoring contributions from every forward line as well as key assists and every now an then, a key goal from defenseman. When every line is contributing on the scoreboard, that’s a recipe for success. I have a feeling that the scoring depth will be there this year.
I’m just finishing up my first season of professional baseball with the Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League. They just missed making the playoffs. One of the issues was they lost 6 games of 16 season meetings against the last place Orem Owlz. Unfortunately last year, the Grizzlies lost 8 of their last 9 meetings with the last place Rapid City Rush and ultimately contributed to the Grizz missing the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.
The Grizzlies will get an early look at the Rapid City Rush on Opening Weekend at Maverik Center for home games on October 12th and 13th.

Summer Blog Entry: August 17, 2018

08/17/2018 1:46 PM - Tyson Whiting

It has been an interesting week in Grizzlies hockey. The Voice of the Grizzlies, Adrian Denny is headed to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL to be the new Voice of the Roadrunners. Adrian did an outstanding job with the Grizzlies organization over 16 years, the last 13 as the Grizzlies play-by-play man.

Adrian has been a great friend and mentor to me for many years. I have no doubt that he’s going to do an outstanding job with the Roadrunners. He has been a big part of the organization and there’s no question that he has left some big shoes to fill.

It’s true when people talk about being in the right place at the right time. I hosted the pregame, intermission and postgame shows for the Grizzlies for the last couple of years. I grew up listening to games on the radio and it’s a great honor to be part of Grizzlies broadcasts on the radio.

It’s been a busy summer for me as I have been broadcasting games for the Pioneer League baseball’s Idaho Falls Chukars, Rookie affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. That has been a great experience so far. The Chukars have been hovering anywhere between 1 and 4 games over the .500 mark the entire season.

The Grizzlies have a good, consistent offensive team and I don’t think there’s much question that the Grizzlies will be able to score in bunches as the team has added great scoring threats in Forwards Caleb Herbert and Austin Carroll as well as Ryan Walters returning to the lineup and re-acquiring Matt Berry, who scored 16 goals for Utah in the 2015-16 season.

The Grizzlies announced the signing of defenseman Nolan DeJong. DeJong, 22, split his rookie season between the Colorado Eagles and the Colorado Avalanche AHL affiliate in San Antonio. He had two goals and five assists for seven points in 50 games with the Eagles; who won their second-straight ECHL Kelly Cup Championship in June.

The words to describe DeJong is steady and consistent. DeJong rarely made a mistake on the ice and has a lot of big game experience.

Opening weekend is October 12th-13th vs the Rapid City Rush. 7:00 pm puck drop.

Summer Blog Entry: August 10, 2018

08/10/2018 2:51 PM - Adrian Denny

The Grizzlies will announce another former Colorado Eagles player early this week. They saw the Eagles 11 times in 2017-2018 and are now getting additional feedback from the Avalanche and Eagles staff on their ECHL players.

Over the last month, we’ve been bringing you #ColoradoColdCuts on Twitter @UtahGrizz. If you’ve missed any nuggets on the new Avalanche affiliation, click here.  

The Grizzlies 1:30 p.m. holiday matinees on Monday, January 21 and Monday, February 18 will be moved to 1 p.m. so the Kansas City Mavericks can get a flight out of town after the President’s Day contest. There’s nothing more I like than being able to get out of Dodge after playing a road game to head home and not spend an extra night in a hotel. The best example of that is bussing straight out of Idaho after a Saturday night game, being home around 3 a.m. and waking up in your own bed in the morning.

If you’re in Tyson Whiting’s neighborhood Saturday around the Utah Olympic Oval, feel free to stop in and watch some of Head Coach Tim Branham’s open professional tryout going in three sessions. Sunday’s sessions are closed to the public.

Saturday’s Sessions
9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

If you missed my Late Summer Chat with Head Coach Tim Branham for Grizzlies TV Tuesday, we talked about the anticipated three goalie situation, forward and defense depth and  what else he’s working on for the offseason. Click here to watch
 

 

Summer Blog Entry August 3, 2018

08/03/2018 12:12 PM - Adrian Denny

Head Coach Tim Branham’s Professional Tryout Camp is a week away and he still has some open spots available for skaters. Tim plans to bring the best players from the camp to Grizzlies Training Camp in October. Click here to register

Several familiar names have been added to the depth of the Colorado Avalanche organization over the last week with three added yesterday to Minor League Contracts. 
 
The Eagles signed Cole Ully who had 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points in 39 games with Idaho and had two goals and eight assists for ten points in eleven playoff games last year. He was Idaho’s third leading scorer against Utah with seven goals and five assists for 12 points in ten games. Ully just completed a three-year entry level contract with the Dallas Stars.

“Cole is an extremely talented player,” said Branham.  “We saw a lot of him last season in Idaho.”

Colorado also added another skilled forward in Tim McGauley, who just completed a three-year entry level  contract with the Washington Capitals and had 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points in 48 games with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.

Late last week, Colorado added Josh Winquist to a Minor League Contract as well after he had 53 points in 55 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears last year on 18 goals and 35 assists. The Grizzlies saw him in 14-15 with Bakersfield when he had three assists in his only game against Utah.
 
Goaltender Kevin Carr, who started last year with Utah, was signed by the Colorado Eagles on Thursday as well. 
 
We mentioned a few weeks ago that the Avalanche had re-signed goaltender Joe Cannata; who spent most of last year with the Eagles in the ECHL going 21-5-1 in the regular season and 16-6 in the playoffs.
 
The Grizzlies have also added Goaltender Brandon Wildung, who finished last year in Utah after college, to an ECHL contract. The Grizzlies, like the Colorado Eagles last season, plan to carry three goalies at most points during the season, with two of them being goalies assigned from the Avalanche organization.
 
If you missed it earlier this week, the Grizzlies announced a trade to bring Matt Berry back on Monday after a point-a-game rookie season in Utah in 2015-2016 and signed Austin Carroll Thursday; he had spent the last three years with the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate in Stockton after being drafted in the seventh round in 2014.
 
Also, since you got to the end of this Blog, you can be the first to find out that Single Game Tickets for 2018-2019 are now on sale by clicking here.
 

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