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Game Day Blog Archive

December 27: Game Day

12/27/2008 2:49 PM - Adrian Denny
Just a very strange 36 hours just completed for the Utah Grizzlies, that saw them make a quick back and forth trip to Boise battling snow and a faux fire alarm at the Quest Arena as well as losing last night 5-1.

December 25:

Players meet back in Utah after ECHL mandated Christmas Holiday Break
8:00 p.m., Practice
9:00 p.m., Bus to Boise postponed due to horrific travel conditions due to snow

December 26:
7:00 a.m., Leave for Boise on bus
10:00 a.m., Detour through Pocatello with I-84 closed at Utah/Idaho border
Noon, Pre-game meal at Johnny Carino’s in Twin Falls, Idaho
3:15 p.m., Arrive in Boise. Players check-in at hotel, Staff goes to arena
6:45 p.m., The fire alarm goes off at Quest Arena until face-off for no apparent reason
7:10 p.m., Grizzlies face-off with Steelheads
7:12 p.m., Idaho makes it 1-0 1:17 into the game
10:10 p.m., Bus leaves for Salt Lake. I-84 was open though it shouldn’t have been and the team didn’t have to detour though it certainly made for an adventure.

December 27:
4:00 a.m., Grizzlies arrive back at E-Center
11:30 a.m., Morning Skate at E-Center


So there you have it, though there are no excuses for dropping a hockey game 5-1 like the Grizzlies did last night. It was a very disappointing performance as Mike Mole gave Utah every possible chance to rally. So after without question, the worst game of the year, hopefully the Grizzlies rebound tonight as they complete their sixth game during the month of December against Idaho. After going unbeaten (2-0-0-1) in the first three games of the year versus Idaho, the Grizzlies have dropped three-straight to their closest division rival scoring just 4 goals during that span.

Utah did jump up 2-0 in the first period versus the Steelheads in the last meeting between these two at the E-Center December 9, but a costly shorthanded goal tied the game for Idaho early in the second period and they added a late one to win 3-2.

It’s the E-Center fans’ first look at the Islanders jerseys that the Grizzlies will be wearing tonight as they did last evening in Boise. The Steelheads will be wearing the black jerseys of their NHL parent club the Dallas Stars once again.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!

December 26: Game Day

12/25/2008 11:00 PM - Adrian Denny
Well, kind of a game day blog, at least it’s a blog within 24 hours of a game, does that work? The Grizzlies are currently snowed in at the E-Center after their 9 p.m. Christmas Night bus was postponed until 7 a.m. Friday.

I’ve never seen snow like this before, accompanied by a heavy wind. When I arrived at the E-Center at 6:30 p.m., all was calm. By 7:45 p.m., my car was buried as it sat illegally parked on the sidewalk right next to the E-Center.

So, what now? Kevin Colley and Jeff Dwyer are currently settling into their office to watch my new copy of Step Brothers my brother and his girl friend gave me for Christmas. After typing this blog, and finishing the rest of my preparation for Friday’s broadcast, I will settle in and make Grizzlies President Jim McKinnon’s office my home for the night. You see, Jim has a couch in there and since I already have my pillow and blanket for the bus ride, why get a hotel room?

Meanwhile, back to hockey, the Grizzlies will play for the first time in six days, Friday in Boise riding a season-long five-game unbeaten streak. The last team they lost to in regulation was the Idaho Steelheads, who battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit, to defeat the Grizzlies 3-2 December 9.

Kudos to the ECHL and the PHPA, for not allowing games to be held from December 22-25 to give players and hockey operations staff a chance to regroup and hopefully get  a chance to return home to visit friends and family members. Unfortunately, though for Head Coach Kevin Colley, he has been pouring over the Fresno Falcons roster after that team abruptly, unexpectedly and unethically folded midseason Monday making all their players free agents and probably didn’t get much rest. Despite, being given a very QUESTIONABLE one-game suspension for Friday’s game, Kevin will be on the quick trip with the team to Boise, but will not be on the Utah bench.

Obviously, day of game travel is something the Grizzlies as an organization try to avoid at all costs. In fact, Friday, marks just the third time in four seasons since joining the ECHL, that the Grizzlies have woken up in Salt Lake on a day that they will be playing elsewhere. With day of game travel, the morning skate is usually aborted and the routine for the team is uprooted. Tomorrow, the Grizzlies will probably stop in Twin Falls for their pre-game team meal.

On February 21, 2006 Utah caught an early morning flight to Phoenix to play game two of a nine-game road trip, conducted their morning skate as usual, hung with the RoadRunners in the first period but gave up three in the second period to fall 5-2.

Then on November 3, 2006, the Grizzlies caught a mid-morning flight to Boise, where they went straight to the hotel, did not hold morning skate, gave up two quick first period goals and then battled back to lose 4-3 in a shootout.

However, the last time the Grizzlies traveled day-of-game during an in-progress road trip and encountered travel difficulty, they and goaltender Alfie Michaud blanked the Long Beach Ice Dogs 3-0. On February 24, 2006, after leaving San Diego for the 7:30 p.m. face-off, the Grizzlies encountered worse than normal rush-hour traffic on the way to L.A. Steve our bus driver, bless his heart, attempting to play hero, kept changing freeways to find a different route and it didn’t work. Utah drove across a patch of grass to finally make it to the Long Beach Arena at 6:45 p.m. The Grizzlies skated to a scoreless tie through one period before scoring two in the second on their way to the 3-0 shutout win over the Ice Dogs despite being outshot 37-18.

That’s your history lesson for today, there will be a closed book short essay test on Monday.

Safe Travels!

Go Grizzlies!

Send me your comments and your own blog entries to adenny@utahgrizz.com.

December 20: Game Day

12/20/2008 6:07 AM - Adrian Denny
For the second-straight road trip, the Grizzlies have collected three of a possible four points through two games as they fly to Las Vegas for their final game before Christmas tonight with the Wranglers. Utah went 1-0-0-1 in Boise two weekends ago opening that trip.

While last night was definitely frustrating as the team had 44 shots and went 0-10 on the power-play, give all the credit in the world to Phoenix goaltender Craig Kowalski who made 43 saves earning his 100th career win and not by accident.

After the Grizzlies scored a season-high 13 goals in their previous three games, I don’t think there is cause to press the panic button about making wholesale line changes etc. like one of our texters suggested last night during “Grizzlies On The Fly: Final.”

The Grizzlies are unbeaten in their last four games (3-0-0-1) and 4-2-0-2 during the month of December and would really like to finish things off and get above .500 heading into their one-week hiatus for Christmas vacation.

After tonight’s contest at the Orleans Arena, the team will scatter to head home for the holidays while only a select few of us will board the bus and come directly back to Salt Lake.

The Las Vegas Wranglers (10-13-0-2), who already this week have dropped back-to-back one-goal home games to Ontario, are struggling to regain the dominance that saw them advance to the Kelly Cup Finals last year as the Grizzlies make their first trip to the Orleans Arena since last year’s conference finals. Utah went 0-6-0-1 here last year after winning 8-5 November 2, 2007 as Ryan Kinasewich and Micheal Haley both had hat tricks in the first meeting of the year between the two clubs.

I was very distraught late last night to find out that my favorite food stop in the ECHL, Terrible Mike’s, located in the Orleans Casino is apparently no longer there and that Fuddruckers is now the official burger joint in the building. Nothing against Fuddruckers, but Terrible Mike’s had the best burger and fries I have ever eaten and my consecutive streak of eating there every day I have been in Las Vegas with the team since 2005 will end today.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 19: Game Day

12/19/2008 10:33 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies look to match their longest winning streak of the year tonight by picking up two points for the fourth-straight contest. The Phoenix RoadRunners and their marketing department are also banking on a win as this evening is “Guaranteed Win Night” here at U.S. Airways Center.

If the Grizzlies win, all fans in attendance will receive a free ticket to the RoadRunners game on December 27 or December 30.

A common question I am asked, usually about 50 times a day, is when is Nathan Lawson coming back. I find it especially amusing when I get an email like this during a broadcast ,say during last night’s second intermission, when Mike Mole had stopped 20 of 21 shots in his 22nd straight start where he has also now allowed three goals or less in ten of his last 12 outings. Mole relishes the situation he is in and has gotten unbelievably better every game. He couldn't be happier. And no, he isn't tired. He gets asked that question about 250 times a day.

Hopefully for Nathan’s case he doesn’t come back. He had a solid ECHL season last year, led the Grizzlies along with Mole to the conference finals and earned an AHL contract to start his second year. He is 5-0 in Bridgeport, while he looks to get back in the lineup after a minor injury a few weeks ago. In the minor leagues, you just never can tell when the next transaction is going to come. You are always, an injury, a call-up or a trade away from having the next expected move aborted.

Utah is getting Mole more support in the last three games scoring 13 goals, including eight in the third periods as the Grizzlies have been riding out some late victories. Not to mention, Mole has now seen less than 30 shots in two-straight games for the first time in over a month.

The Grizzlies team was a combined plus-19 last night, led by James Sixsmith’s plus-four as Utah continues to play very well five-on-five.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 18: Game Day

12/18/2008 8:37 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies have arrived in Phoenix to begin their first road trip of the year south of the E-Center and will head to snowy Las Vegas in less than 48 hours.

Yesterday, as the team was seated in the gate area waiting to board their flight to Phoenix, it was announced that a flight bound for Sin City the next gate over was in an indefinite delay due to the fact that the runway at McCarran International Airport had been closed. Grizzlies Assistant Coach Jeff Dwyer then said to me “what in the world could be happening in Las Vegas that would close the airport?”

Meanwhile, the “Valley of the Sun” was under a flood warning last night due to heavy rain. So while, Utah is headed to the ECHL's two "warmest" spots this weekend, their 08-09 road schedule has experienced the best weather thus far in Victoria with Boise and Anchorage being close seconds.

Mike Mole returns to Phoenix this weekend where I am convinced that next to Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley, he could be the most popular sports figure in Phoenix history! I can tell you this, he has Cardinals backup quarterback Matt Leinart and new Suns Coach Terry Porter definitely beat that’s for sure.

The Grizzlies goaltender, who makes his 22nd straight start tonight, was the first player signed by former RoadRunners President and current San Jose Sharks “prospect” Claude Lemieux when Phoenix joined the ECHL in 2005. As Utah fans have seen, his contagious energy and personality will make him a fan favorite anywhere he goes.

The Grizzlies go for three-straight wins tonight while Phoenix looks to snap a two-game losing streak as they return from Victoria where they were outscored 26-3 in four games this year including 13-2 this past Friday and Sunday. It’s a huge series for Utah who enters the week trailing the RoadRunners by two points in the West Division standings.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!



December 13: Game Day

12/13/2008 10:27 AM - Adrian Denny
What a difference a week makes in the ECHL. Four of Utah’s five skaters in the starting lineup last night were not on the ice last weekend in Idaho.

James Sanford and Tim Maxwell were both with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Ryan Kinasewich was seeing minimal power-play time as he tried to work himself back into the Grizzlies lineup after missing nine-straight games. Scott Thauwald was driving from Georgia to Utah after his previous team, the Augusta Lynx, folded their tents and ceased operations. Leaving just James Sixsmith as Utah’s lone starter who was getting ice time just a week ago.

Kevin Colley’s defensive pairings last night all had a previous tie to each other. We already mentioned Sanford and Maxwell being together in Chicago. Mark Lutz and Evan Stoflet were teammates at the University of Vermont and Andy Sertich and Jordan Hart of course have played numerous shifts together with the Grizzlies.

And how about Tim Maxwell? The rookie d-man has two goals in his first two pro games.

Last night every Utah skater had a shot except James Sixsmith. We’ll throw James a mulligan on account of his second three assist output in the last four games!!!

Not only in the scoring column but also in the shot count can you detect how important Kinasewich and Sanford are to this hockey club. Sanford led the Grizzlies with five shots in his first game back Tuesday; Kinasewich had five last night.

Grizzlies looking to continue their success against Stockton. Out of all their opponents the last two years, the Grizzlies have fared the best versus the Thunder going 8-1-0-1 in their last ten games against Chris Cichocki’s group.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 12: Game Day

12/12/2008 9:04 AM - Adrian Denny
Well for the first time in over a month, the Grizzlies could have both James Sanford and Ryan Kinasewich in the lineup at the same time tonight. Kinasewich is listed as probable after missing ten of the last 12 games with an upper-body injury.

Along with Kinasewich and Sanford, who returned from the AHL after missing eight Utah games Tuesday, and led the team with five shots, defenseman Jordan Hart and Mark Lutz are scheduled to be activated off of IR today as well after lengthy absences from the Utah blue line.

Utah was 6-3 the last time Sanford, who leads Utah in power-play scoring and scoring by defensemen and captain Kinasewich, who has three goals and nine assists in eleven games for Utah dressed together.

Lutz and Hart will also add depth to the Utah blue line which looks to be as deep as it has been all season even with Jon Gleed being recalled to Bridgeport yesterday. They along with Andy Sertich, Evan Stoflet, Will Bodine and Tim Maxwell who had a steller pro debut on Tuesday instantly give Utah one of the best d in the ECHL.

Grizzlies obviously looking for some more goals too as Kevin Colley shifted line combinations Tuesday with the addition of Scott Thauwald from Augusta. Kinasewich also obviously would be a tremendous addition to Utah up front as he always has been good for a point a game.

Mike Mole continues to hover around a .900 save percentage for Utah as he makes his 20th-straight start tonight. While Tuesday, some bounces didn’t go his way, he has been unbelievably solid and excelled as the Grizzlies guy in goal.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 9: Game Day

12/09/2008 8:34 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies get a big addition back to the lineup tonight when James Sanford returns to the Utah blueline and power-play after seven games with Chicago of the AHL.

It’s staggering to look at the numbers on the power-play with and without Sanford. With James the first 12 games of the year, the Grizzlies were near the top of the league converting on 12 of 63 situations for a success rate of close to 20-percent. Without #25, Utah has gone 4-53 (7.5-percent) and dropped to 17th in the ECHL out of 23 teams.

Also joining Utah after working out last week with the Wolves is defenseman Tim Maxwell who will make his pro debut tonight. Maxwell comes highly recommended from the Wolves, who the Grizzlies have established a nice two-way relationship with since former Head Coach Jason Christie departed for the windy city late this summer. I would expect to see more comings and goings to and from Chicago in the future, which is a bonus for both sides. For Chicago, it adds another pool to draw from for young talent. For the Grizzlies, it is another place to send players, which will be a bonus for Kevin Colley as he recruits this summer; while he also knows if the team has a player or two that need some extra ice time Utah will also be an option along with their official ECHL affiliate in Gwinnett. Colley also received strong positive comments from Islanders Pro Scout Toby O’Brien regarding Maxwell.

Kudos to Colley, who was able to grab his top recruit from Augusta in Scott Thauwald. The Lynx folded last week while Utah bussed to Idaho and after hearing the news, the Grizzlies Head Coach was on the phone with the former Colorado College captain in Thauwald. He got confirmation Wednesday just prior to face-off that the rookie had accepted Utah’s offer and Thauwald immediately began to drive cross country to Utah where arrived Saturday afternoon.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 6: Game Day

12/06/2008 11:18 AM - Adrian Denny
With three of a possible four points already here in Idaho, the Grizzlies can make a good road trip great tonight with another two points as they play the third of four-straight games with Idaho.

Last night was a night of firsts for Utah as Mark Pavli scored his first pro goal which proved to be the game-winner for Utah in the third period; Will Bodine scored his first of the year to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead in the first period and Vladimir Nikiforov had his first career two-goal game.

For a goaltender who will make his 18th-straight start tonight, Mike Mole continues to be amazing after his second-straight 39 save effort last night in the Utah win. Mole has allowed three goals or fewer in eight of his last ten starts.

Mike is getting support lately as Utah has scored eight goals in their last two games; their best two-game goal output since before the Ryan Kinasewich injury.

Speaking of Ryan, following his return last night in limited minutes, Utah is now 7-2 in games in which their captain is available from start to finish. He missed nine-straight games with an upper-body injury from November 14-December 3.

Is the tide starting to turn in the West Division? Utah has collected points in three of their last four games. Meanwhile the first-place Alaska Aces have dropped four of five games all by one goal. Victoria, following a scheduled all-team trip to Disneyland on Monday, has dropped two-straight in California by one goal as well. And last but not least, the Grizzlies snapped Idaho’s four-game winning streak last night with a win.

Last night, if you were listening to the broadcast on Grizzlies Radio, we told a story about a late model bright orange Ford Bronco that belonged to the Idaho forward and former Utah IHL/AHLer Steve Gainey when he played in Salt Lake (2000-2004) that would sit on the street for weeks in the same spot outside his apartment in downtown Salt Lake on occasions when he would be up in the NHL. Tonight, during the broadcast, listen as we will have an update on that Orange Ford Bronco which is actually a 1992 model, not late 70s as I estimated last night.

Here’s to Utah taking two of three on the road in the division for the second time in three series. They took two of three in Victoria the third series of the year.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries by emailing adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 5: Game Day

12/05/2008 10:25 AM - Adrian Denny
While the Grizzlies have battled to put up two points in the win column lately, one thing remains constant, the games have all been close and been decided in the third period.

With a team this shorthanded, that is quite a feat. Not at one point yet, with the exception of Alaska, which is another case in itself, have the Grizzlies been blown out in a game this year. That is extremely rare. Most teams have a bad night here and there where they drop an unexpected lopsided 6-2 decision even at full-strength. Even the Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-0 game at home to Edmonton earlier this year.

What we have seen from this Grizzlies team that started 6-2 is that Kevin Colley will have them ready to play each night and they will always have a chance to win no matter how many skaters are out of the lineup. Sure, it’s been a rough month with Ryan Kinasewich, James Sanford, Dennis Packard, Jordan Hart, Mark Lutz and Nathan Lawson all unable to play but it has definitely built character for down the road with the other guys who have all seen their fair share of ice time in crucial situations.

I have never seen a human being in any profession work harder than Kevin Colley does on a day-to-day basis. Whether he’s on the ice with the team, breaking down video talking with an opposing team’s Head Coach/GM or merely just giving Grizzlies, Sound Tigers or Islanders management a report, Kevin is on his A-Game 100-percent of the time with an unbelievable passion and a complete dedication that always focuses around winning hockey games. His energy 24-7-365 is unmatched and it has been contagious to this hockey team

It seems like we have been saying shorthanded for a while. When will that end? You can’t really say, but after this weekend as Utah returns home, my gut feeling says the toughest part of the year will be done in all aspects.

Send me your comments or own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

GO GRIZZLIES!!!

December 3: Game Day

12/03/2008 11:16 AM - Adrian Denny
There’s never a dull moment in the ECHL and the Grizzlies can certainly attest to that over the last month with all the injuries and call-ups to the AHL. However, yesterday ,there was another flare of drama as the team was on the bus coming to Boise.

At about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, word came from Grizzlies CEO Kevin Bruder that the ECHL’s Augusta Lynx had ceased operations and would not be continuing their season. It’s not often the Grizzlies are affected by the American Conference with virtually no games against those teams scheduled until the playoffs. However when a team calls it quits, mayhem erupts all throughout the “AA” level of minor league hockey.

This because all players signed to ECHL contracts in Augusta immediately became unrestricted free agents and the free-for-all began. Grizzlies Head Coach Kevin Colley’s phone immediately began to ring off the hook and he as I’m sure all ECHL coaches spent Tuesday evening mulling over the Lynx roster to see what players could possibly benefit their teams.

Obviously for Kevin, even in the world of Blackberry’s and internet access anywhere, it was frustrating being on a bus in the middle of Idaho and stranded for the next three hours while every other coach in the league was probably sitting at their desk with the world at their fingertips. In fact, upon arrival in Boise, the Utah coach was immediately dropped off at the hotel while the rest of the team went to the arena to unpack the gear in the meantime. The job of an ECHL coach is a 24/7/365 life as most of them also double as the team’s GM among other things.

So whether the Utah coach sees fit to bring any Lynx players to Utah or not, he cannot afford to take a chance of missing out on anyone that could possibly come to the Grizzlies and make an immediate impact. Especially, with all the Augusta players being free agents, meaning it’s not like a trade where the Grizzlies would have to part with any players, future considerations or cash. Not to mention, we all know how shorthanded the team has been essentially all season.

In the ECHL, unlike the AHL or NHL, you can’t just call players up as, I’ve mentioned before, not that there are any other leagues where you would want to call players up from. The only other really legitimate hockey league, the CHL, is a competing league and that is not an option.

Game one in Boise tonight and here’s to Utah’s fourth-straight win in this building!!!

Send me your comments or your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.

Go Grizzlies!!!!

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