By Adam Turner
Time is dwindling on the 2017-18 hockey season but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to visit the Maverik Center and cheer on the Utah Grizzlies. In the club’s quest for an 11th consecutive playoff appearance, standing in Utah’s immediate way is a formidable foe in first place and defending ECHL champions: the Colorado Eagles. Having gained a point in an overtime loss against their division rivals Wednesday night, Utah will look to acquire standings points against the Eagles with games slated for Friday and Saturday night in the three game series.
Grizzlies fans that were accustomed to cheering for Ryan Olsen and Cliff Watson can now root against them as both players don Colorado uniforms. Conversely, Utah fans can now cheer on Jake Marchment and Gage Ausmus, who were both former Eagles. Needless to say, these divisional rivals are about as familiar with one another as two clubs can be.
Nine of Utah’s first 30 games were against Colorado but prior to Wednesday the two foes hadn’t faced each other since December 23rd of 2017. Eight of those first nine games were decided by a lone goal and Utah defeated Colorado on December 22nd in a 5-4 overtime thriller. The Grizzlies had allowed 30 shots or fewer in six of the nine games and outshot the Eagles in five of the nine.
“It’s a great opportunity and for this organization to give me a chance means a lot to me,” Wildung said. “I want to do whatever I can and make the saves I need to make. There are a lot of great players on this team and I’m happy to be a part of it.”