October 30 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/30/2010 9:11 AM - Adrian Denny
At 4-1-1-0, the Grizzlies aren’t blowing teams out and they’re find ways to put games away in the third period. Utah has collected three-straight wins from contests that have been tied at some point in the third period. During their first win of the year on October 16, Utah held a 3-2 third period lead in Alaska for over the first 15 minutes of the final frame.
Utah goaltending continues to remain solid under the direction of Andrew Engelage who last night had a string of over 35-straight saves. He has stopped 62 of the last 64 shots he has seen over the last 104:50 minutes of play and has gotten stronger each period played.
The Grizzlies locker room area had a quiet businesslike confidence to it last night, which led me to believe that this team feels that two wins early in Idaho doesn’t mean that anything has been accomplished and that there is still one more game to get here in Boise. Several players hung around waiting for the game video to download because they wanted to look at a play from the game over again. To me that was pretty impressive for a team that has already guaranteed a minimum of four of six points on this always tough trip.
For Utah, claiming the first two games against Idaho is the first of a little payback to the Steelheads who swept the Grizzlies from the playoffs last year. Tonight, Utah eyes the three-game series sweep to keep Idaho in what fans here would probably describe as a tailspin.
October 29 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/29/2010 7:44 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies will look to continue their strong start here in 2010-2011, in particular their strong road start, which is another characteristic of a Kevin Colley team as we enter year number three of his regime.
At 2-0-1-0 on the road, the Grizzlies look to continue their solid play away from Maverik Center, especially tonight as they play game two of an eight-game road trip. As we mentioned, strong starts on the road under Kevin Colley have been kind of a three-year habit. Utah started 3-1 on the road in 2008-2009 and last year won their first five games of the season away from Utah.
The Wednesday, Friday, Saturday set on the road is a bit interesting. You play Wednesday, then have 48 hours off between games and the teams, especially the road team living out of a hotel, have to refocus after a long day off on Thursday; which started for Utah as practice ended at noon. Idaho, who has lost three-straight games past regulation, is going to come out strong as they look for redemption and to blow off frustration; it will be Utah’s job to match it, especially early.
One thing that Utah has done better this year, even though I think Colley would still consider things a little sloppy is eliminate the odd-man rush. I can’t recall one through five games, when at points last year it seemed like there were several a game.
Andrew Engelage makes his second-straight start tonight after Wednesday I thought he was very dynamic and used his six-foot-five frame well. Kevin Colley told me after the game using his size to his advantage has been a focus.
October 27 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/27/2010 8:22 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies used the power-play and a healthy amount of offensive chances to push past Bakersfield Saturday at Maverik Center, outshooting the Condors 78-42.
It’s a Utah team though, that for a few reasons never seem to get very many shots or very many early goals here in Boise. Last year, Utah was outshot 361-252 in 10 games played here and outscored 10-7 in the first period while being outshot 110-68 in the opening frames. So, what all this means, is to be successful in Boise where they are 8-18-5 all time, Utah hopefully will continue to generate scoring chances like they did at home this past weekend. The Grizzlies will also stay out of the penalty box early and not give Idaho a running start.
With the Grizzlies acquisition of Nick Tuzzolino yesterday, it is another example that Utah has become one of the destination spots for pivotal players in this league. Tuzzolino did have a few options and ultimately chose Utah. Kevin Colley has established a professional environment, his players respect him for the kind of person he is and his passion for helping them. This along with the NHL caliber facilities among other things, are helping the Grizzlies as they continue on in the ECHL.
Andrew Engelage will get his first start as a Utah player tonight after J.P. Lamoureux started the first four games.
October 23 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/23/2010 9:11 AM - Adrian Denny
A 5-0 game, especially in the ECHL’s Western Conference, where spots three-eight were up for grabs going into the final weekend of the season last year, is usually an oddity.
Last night’s game definitely was strange for Utah, by among other things, outshooting Bakersfield 35-16 and losing 5-0. We saw some blowout games last weekend in the league that reversed scores in game two of the series.
Victoria lost 5-0 at Idaho Friday and rebounded to beat the Steelheads 4-0 Saturday. Wheeling beat Toledo 6-0 Saturday after losing 4-0 Friday. Cincinnati came back to beat Elmira 5-4 in overtime after losing Friday 7-3. You can’t measure from night to night, especially at this level what exactly is going to happen. Usually the exact opposite of what you expect does happen.
For Utah, clearly it’s rare to lose a game when outshooting the opposition 35-16. Last year, Utah was 17-5-1-0 when outshooting the other team at home.
The Grizzlies definitely were a team that played well at home on back-to-back nights. Utah was 8-4-2-1 on the second half of a back-to-back at home in 2009-2010.
Utah will be looking to get out of the gate strong against the Condors who have outscored the opposition 3-0 in the first period through two games.
October 22 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/22/2010 7:30 AM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies are looking to go unbeaten in their first three games for the first time since 2000-2001 when they opened their IHL schedule with wins over Detroit, Milwaukee and Orlando.
Utah comes into tonight riding a three-game unbeaten streak against Bakersfield after taking five of six points from them during their final home stand of 2009-2010. Utah put up 18 goals in that series while the always potent Condors added 13 scores.
Five Utah players are also looking for three-game scoring streaks tonight with Jake Gannon, Brent Gauvreau, Hugo Carpentier, Brad Snetsinger and Chris Donovan all scoring for Utah in their first two games.
The Grizzlies are looking to take advantage of this rare time on home ice as after this weekend, they will hit the road for eight-straight and 11 of their next 13 games.
Bakersfield was one team that Utah goaltender J.P. Lamoureux maybe “struggled” against in 2008-2009 as he went on to win every award imaginable given to goaltenders that year. Lamoureux was 1-3 with a 2.78 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage against the Condors that season. Knowing J.P.’s competitive spirit, I’m sure he is well aware of that coming into tonight.
October 16 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/16/2010 9:21 AM - Adrian Denny
After last night’s 3-2 opening night overtime loss (tie) in Alaska, Kevin Colley said that he couldn’t remember the last time a Utah Grizzlies team worked as hard as they did Friday.
The major issues he had with the game included: untimely penalties, spacing among defensemen, taking a bad option on a pass and the proper way to block a shot. Those can all be corrected and will be addressed today with video. Last night after the game, several players walked in to the office on their own to tell Kevin things that they would do different in game two.
That’s one advantage to having a young eager team at this level. They are so hungry to learn and get better that they are going to be teachable and improve each game. Veteran ECHL teams sometimes are harder to corral and get on the same page, because you see your fair share of veteran players who are content with collecting their pay check, getting a point a game, and realize that they won’t be advancing any higher up the hockey ladder.
We touched on Brad Snetsinger’s scoring ability yesterday and he definitely displayed that leading Utah with six shots and tallying an assist. Snetsinger seemed slightly more advanced last night and maybe surprised some of his teammates with the way he sees the ice. I don’t think it will be long till the rest catch up and are able to capitalize on some amazing plays by Brad.
And of course, Utah was able to get away with their youthful inexperience on opening night and collect a point because of the as advertised goaltending of J.P. Lamoureux. With few exceptions, Nathan Lawson being the latest, the Grizzlies haven’t had goaltenders win or keep them in hockey games that they would lose without a heroic effort.
Tonight, Utah looks to clean some things up and leave Anchorage on opening weekend with three of four points.
October 15 Blog Entry: Game Day
10/15/2010 9:27 AM - Adrian Denny
Utah makes their earliest trip ever to Anchorage as they have arrived in Alaska for a pre-Halloween visit to open the 2010-2011 season.
Utah, before training camp opened, looked absolutely loaded on defenseman. But that has changed after Matt Clarke, Matt Sorteberg and Brian Kilburg all suffered preseason injuries. All three of them though are expected back within the next month or so.
While Utah opens up without Ryan Kinasewich on the roster for the first time since 2005-2006, one player who expects to put up “Kinasewich like” scoring is Brad Snetsinger. Snetsinger totaled 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) in 48 games in 2008-2009 with Trenton while spending all of last year in the AHL with Lowell. In 2007-2008, in his final year of amateur hockey, Snetsinger put up 89 points in 68 games with Windsor of the OHL.
Alaska has always been a place where Utah, not to mention the rest of the ECHL, has struggled. The Grizzlies have just one win here in their last 12 games going back to January of 2008. The Grizzlies feel a little better though about bringing J.P. Lamoureux back to Anchorage on their behalf after he went 6-0 against them with three shutouts at the Sullivan Arena in 2008-2009.
Lamoureux is also the big story of the weekend here in Alaska, where he returns for the first time since leading Alaska to game seven of the 2009 Kelly Cup Finals.
The Alaska Aces are uncharacteristically young as they have 13 rookies on their roster. In the previous seven years, Alaska has combined for a total of 18 rookies and never has had more than five on a roster. You likely will only recognize three ECHL players on the Alaska roster including returnees Scott Burt and Bryan Miller along with Wes Goldie. Former NHLer and Alaska native Brian Swanson will join Goldie and Burt on their number one line.
Final Summer Blog Entry (October 1)
10/01/2010 9:38 AM - Adrian Denny
This is the last weekend without Grizzlies hockey before next week starts a string of 11-straight weekends of games before a hiatus for Christmas Break.
Mason Graddock, who you will be introduced to next week, when the Grizzlies announce their training camp roster won the team’s rendition of Amazing Race, being the first player to arrive as he pulled into the Salt Lake Valley Wednesday evening. Graddock beat David Schulz by a whole 24 hours. Schulz arrived second at sometime after 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Saturday eight players will arrive in Utah on eight different flights.
Utah’s roster could include a set of brothers for believed to be the first time in team history. History could also be made for a second time as there could also be a second set of brothers on this Grizzlies team as well.
The confidential ECHL Western Conference team rankings that ECHL Director of Communications Joe Babik and I did last week and mentioned in this blog has definitely generated a buzz around town and the league. Saturday, during halftime of the Utah/San Jose State game, I bumped into a Grizzlies fan who inquired about them. Being in a good mood with the Utes up 35-3 at the half, I told him, and swore him to secrecy.