Summer Blog Entry: May 25
05/25/2012 10:38 AM - Adam Turner
The Florida Everblades captured their first ever Kelly Cup Championship Wednesday night beating Las Vegas four games to one and winning game 5, 3-2 in overtime. It was an instance as so often happens in the playoffs, when one team just doesn’t seem to resemble the group that got them to that point from series to series. Vegas plowed through Utah, Idaho and Alaska to land in the finals, but looked nothing like a championship team in the final series. I watched the final four games and Las Vegas played maybe three great periods in the four losses, with the exception of goaltender Joe Fallon. It reminded me of a Utah group that finished the year 8-3-0-2, but couldn’t get restarted for round one and their 48 hour turnaround. The Wranglers did have 13 days between the conference finals and the Kelly Cup Finals, along with 3 whole days between games 2 and 3 Friday-Tuesday to sit in Estero. Though Florida, was the first team at full-strength that Las Vegas faced in the post-season and the Everblades were loaded.
Former Grizzlies forward Dylan Hunter has joined the “family business” as an Assistant Coach under Head Coach/GM and his Uncle Mark Hunter and Dad Dale, who is the President of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. The Knights have been showcased the last week on NHL Network during the Memorial Cup, in which they have a chance to win.
Bakersfield broadcaster Ryan Holt this week ranked the top broadcast locations in the Western Conference. Given that Utah is again among the elite, like last week when he ranked pre-game press room meals, I’ll let you take a look at his blog as it is interesting to read about the highs and lows of other Western Conference arenas. I strongly disagree with one of the rankings, but I’ll keep my mouth shut on where it is. And no, it’s not Alaska, which with as unfriendly as the Sullivan Arena has been to the Grizzlies, radio row is fine.
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Summer Blog Entry: May 18
05/18/2012 1:54 PM - Adam Turner
The ECHL made news on Thursday when they announced the arrival of the Fort Wayne Komets and Evansville Icemen to the league for the upcoming season. Both teams had previously played in the Central Hockey League. Fort Wayne is coached by Al Sims, the father of 2010-11 Grizzlies goaltender Tyler Sims. The Grizzlies don’t expect to play either Eastern Conference team during this upcoming regular season.
Bakersfield Condors broadcaster Ryan Holt ranked the best pre-game press room meals in the Western Conference Thursday in his weekly blog. According to Mr. Holt, the Grizzlies provide front office members, visiting coaches and broadcasters, off-ice officials and media the second-best press room meal out west. Click here to get the full story.
The 2012-2013 schedule is not far away from being released. Over the last few weeks in the blog, I have given a clue regarding Utah’s schedule for the upcoming season. Next year, the Grizzlies will spend nearly an entire week in one ECHL city without travel between. The Tuesday-Tuesday four-game series/trip will take them to……. Stay tuned.
The Kelly Cup Finals resume in Florida this weekend. If the playoffs are going to continue their speedy and efficient pace in the ECHL, one team will have to win all three games. The ECHL has yet to have a playoff series go more than five games. In other words, the whole thing, with the exception of the first round, which had some fifth and deciding games, has been pretty lopsided.
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Summer Blog Entry: May 11
05/11/2012 10:37 AM - Adam Turner
Grizzlies captain Nick Tuzzolino saw his season come to an end Wednesday night with the Abbotsford Heat as they fell in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Tuzzolino played in seven playoff games for the Heat after tallying one goal, three assists and a plus-four in 13 AHL games with them during the regular season.
The Western Conference Finals in the NHL feature former Grizzlies Mike Smith and Ray Whitney. Smith appeared in 32 games for Utah between 2002-2004. In the first game he dressed with the Grizzlies in November of 2002, he didn’t play but received a fighting major and a 10 minute misconduct (secondary altercation) when he went after Philadelphia’s Jim Vandermeer in a memorable post-game brawl.
ECHL.com has a great feature on Smith and another former ECHL goalie in Jonathan Quick as the two prepare to go head-to-head starting Sunday. They both won, earned shutouts and scored goals in their first pro wins, which both took place in the ECHL.
The ECHL schedule will likely be released at some point in June and the third draft of the 2012-2013 slate is currently in progress. It looks like Utah will open up against a certain team for the third time to start a season, which will tie them with the late Phoenix RoadRunners for the most opening day dates with Utah since the Grizzlies joined the ECHL in 2005.
The Kelly Cup Finals open Monday. Those in the Eastern Conference feel that Florida will win the title, while those of us in the west seem to have strong feelings that Las Vegas will take the championship. Thus was evidenced in a back-and-forth “Twitter war” between several league broadcasters last weekend.
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Summer Blog Entry: May 4
05/04/2012 10:19 AM - Adam Turner
Week four of the offseason has come to a conclusion as the ECHL is down to three teams, maybe two by the end of the weekend with Florida leading Kalamazoo 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals and beating the Wings by a combined score of 14-3 this week. Las Vegas is the Western Conference Champion.
While the Grizzlies never expected to lose three-straight games to Las Vegas in the first round, the Alaska Aces certainly never expected to lose three-straight games on home ice to the Wranglers as they were eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday. Alaska has lost three straight in regulation at home to the same opponent on only one other occasion, also to Las Vegas:
Nov. 16, 2006 – 0-4 L
Nov. 18, 2006 – 3-5 L
Nov. 19, 2006 – 1-4 L
The Wranglers have peaked at the right time and knocked off three teams so far (Utah, Idaho, Alaska), that were playing great hockey going into their Las Vegas playoff series.
The first step to 2012-2013, is getting a completed schedule. The Grizzlies have already looked at two drafts of the schedule which as of now includes the first visit from an Eastern Conference team to the Maverik Center since 2009 and the team’s first trip to San Francisco in November to take on the expansion Bulls. I’ll give more tentative tidbits each week until it is released likely the first week in June.
Utah will be facing, as of now, one new coach in their division next year, as Wednesday, Idaho announced that they will not renew the Head Coach of Hardy Sauter. The Steelheads have gone outside the league with a new name for their last two hires (Derek Laxdal came from the CHL and Hardy Sauter from the WHL), we’ll see what direction that group takes this time around soon.
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