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Summer Blog

Summer Blog Entry: August 18, 2017

08/18/2017 3:48 PM - Adrian Denny

The Grizzlies added rights to offensive weapon Kyle Thomas (27 goals, 42 assists, 69 points, 59 games with Fort Wayne) this week along with the versatile Ryan Misiak who finished as Rapid City’s third leading scorer last season. Misiak can play both forward and defense and has proven to be effective in every situation on the ice as well; which is such an asset in the ECHL. He played in 71 of 72 games for the Rush last year. 

Thomas played Division III hockey at Norwich University, where there are no athletic scholarships and then bounced around for a bit; including the SPHL, for his first two seasons before landing in Fort Wayne and instantly becoming a major impact player.

I think folks have been impressed with the talent accumulated by Tim Branham this summer. There’s a lot of popular returners, some familiar newcomers with impressive numbers and former players the team is excited to welcome back. Tim is doing so with very specific analytics and also building on momentum from what has become one of the elite organizations in the ECHL both on and off the ice. There will be a lot more exciting news coming as we lead into Opening Night October 13 in Colorado. 

Next week, we’ll announce another returnee or two and also have some rookies to announce in the coming weeks as well.
It’s been kind of a fluid summer of affiliations, so let’s reset, especially with some new team’s on the schedule.

Looking at the schedule, the Grizzlies will see the ECHL affiliates of the: Colorado Avalanche (Colorado), Nashville Predators (Norfolk), Dallas Stars (Idaho), New York Islanders (Worcester), San Jose Sharks (Allen), St Louis Blues (Tulsa), Edmonton Oilers (Wichita), Los Angeles Kings (Manchester), Minnesota Wild (Rapid City), Vegas Golden Knights (Quad City), Chicago Blackhawks (Indy) and Calgary Flames (Kansas City).
 

Summer Blog Entry: August 11, 2017

08/11/2017 3:36 PM - Adrian Denny

Sunday will mark two months from the regular season opener and Monday will mark two months from the home opener on Saturday, October 14.

Tickets for all single games went on sale this week and are available for purchase. 

Big week of signings with the addition of familiar scorer Peter Sivak, who has played 30 games against Utah and 16-17 Team MVP Michael Pelech who returns for his fourth season in Utah.
 
Let’s see if we can announce a player next week who the Grizzlies have just reacquired in a trade.

As this year’s version of the roster begins to be assembled and reshuffled, the Grizzlies have some assets to move. The first of which was sending Austin Brassard to Toledo for future considerations. I’d expect Brassard will have plenty of AHL interest there for call-ups midseason. He was with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego for nearly three months last season after three full AHL seasons with the Winnipeg organization.

Utah currently has 17 players officially signed, which leaves us seven to announce. Six are forwards.

The Grizzlies locker room opened for 2017-2018 season business with the arrival of new Equipment Manager Chris Schornack
 

 

Summer Blog Entry: July 28, 2017

07/28/2017 10:49 AM - Adrian Denny

Generally an ECHL team returns 6-8 players from the previous year. I would say without question that this Utah roster for 2017-2018 will have more players from last year or previous years than we have seen in quite some time and maybe ever. Up to 13 players will be familiar names.

Utah is entering their fifth-straight season as an affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks; which will be the longest consecutive relationship that they’ve had with an NHL team ever. They previously were with Dallas four-straight seasons from 2000-2004. Utah had three-straight years with the New York Islanders from 1994-97, and 2007-10.

The Grizzlies and other ECHL teams will be wrapping up the finalization of preseason games in the next few weeks with announcements to follow. There are some options being discussed that would potentially give the preseason game schedule a different look than previous seasons. 

Our new Equipment Manager will arrive in Salt Lake late next week with an announcement to follow later. Former Grizzlies Equipment Manager Jon Laughner was named the Equipment Manager for Arizona State University’s hockey team last week. He’s the second former staff member in three years to be hired at a major college hockey program. Former Director of Hockey Operations/Video Coordinator Ian Greenwald enters his third year in the same position at Union College; who barely missed out on a trip to the Frozen Four last season.

Next week is vacation, Summer Blog will return Friday, August 11.
 

Summer Blog Entry: July 21, 2017

07/21/2017 7:00 AM - Adrian Denny

It looks like next week we’ll announce two returning defensemen; which will leave two other returnees and two rookies still unannounced that have officially signed contracts. 

Head Coach Tim Branham will have more contracts to submit when he returns from Wisconsin; where he is running two weeks of Branham Hockey Schools through the end of the month.

Of note so far on the roster: Of the 12 players the Grizzlies currently have under contract, nine are American, three are from Canada. Ten played college hockey and two played junior hockey before turning professional.

The latest step to the 2017-2018 season was completed for the most part this week with just about all of the team’s airline travel finalized and booked. The team will become familiar with a new airport this year when they fly out of Wichita twice following weekends with the Thunder.

Idaho announced a contract extension for Head Coach Neil Graham earlier this week. At this point every Head Coach in the Mountain Division either was Head Coach of their same team last year, moved to another team in Rob Murray going from Alaska to Tulsa or was Assistant Coach of their team in Daniel Tetrault in Rapid City.
 

Summer Blog Entry: July 14, 2017

07/14/2017 10:24 AM - Adrian Denny

Looking at official contracts into the league office, the Grizzlies currently have six forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender. We’ve currently announced two forwards and two defensemen and will announce some more next week to keep the content spread through the summer. We have several other contracts in transit.

The roster this year has come together quickly. The core of players the Grizzlies desired to return from last year’s team was a good start. In addition, Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham and now former Assistant Coach Jeff Carr essentially had their college recruiting done by the time last season ended as they looked to add a body or two for the stretch run after the college seasons ended. That being said, there were several college players targeted and contacted late last season, that for a variety of reasons didn’t join last year’s team, but are good to go for this year’s roster. That hard work put in early, while the season was still going, got the Grizzlies way ahead of the process for this year’s recruiting. By being first in line, it ended up creating early relationships with good college players that other teams would have gone after this summer as well. 


Branham is still targeting several new high end bodies; with signings like that always taking place closer to training camp.

Micheal Ferland, who played three games with Utah in 2012-2013, and has stacked up 173 NHL games already with Calgary; just signed a two-year contract extension with the Flames. But be careful, he’s the second former Grizzlies player in two weeks to sign an NHL contract who spells Micheal with an e before the a after Micheal Haley just signed with Florida. Trevor Daley, who recently won his second-straight Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, just signed a three-year deal in Detroit.
 
And behind the scenes, a great friend of mine and the team, passed away last night in an accident up Big Cottonwood Canyon in KUTV’s Matt Hearn. Matt was my business contact at our television partner and was always anxious and enthusiastic to get hockey season going so we could come up with the next great idea to sell tickets. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with for the last three years; he was such a gamer and so much fun. 
 

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