By Adam Turner
Of the 72 games scheduled in the 2017-18 Utah Grizzlies hockey season, 71 have come to a conclusion. Only one game remains and although the Grizzlies impressive streak of 10 consecutive playoff appearances has come to an end, there is still plenty of reason to pay tribute to this year’s version of head coach Tim Branham’s club one last time.
“We owe it to these unbelievable fans to go out and make sure we give it all we’ve got until they tell us we can’t anymore,” Head Coach Tim Branham said. “We didn’t have the greatest record here at home but if every one of our guys gives it their all, we’re going to win.”
Of course that will include fan favorite Travis Howe, who not only leads the team with 16 fights on the season, but has become an offensive juggernaut recently, posting nine points on four goals and five assists during Utah’s last ten games. And although he had been held in check until Friday night’s game winning overtime goal to give the Grizzlies a 6-5 win against the Kansas City Mavericks, team captain Ryan Walters has managed to post impressive numbers on the year with 63 points on 29 goals and 34 assists.
“It felt good to get the game-winner for the team,” Walters said. “We have a job to do and we want to go out and play as hard as we can. Our fans have supported us all year and we want to play hard for them and give them a good farewell for the season.”
The Grizzlies opponent for the finale will be these same Kansas City Mavericks, who fans will be able to get very familiar with in the upcoming season. Slated to join the Mountain Division of the ECHL next year, replacing the Colorado Eagles, a rivalry will recommence. A familiar face but now foe as he dons a Kansas City jersey is C.J. Eick, who was captain of the Grizzlies earlier this season.
So come down to the Maverik Center one final time to cheer on Kyle Thomas, Ryan Misiak, Taylor Richart and the rest of the gang one final time as the Utah Grizzlies will look to put an exclamation point on a campaign that might not have ended the way they envisioned, but one thing is for certain: Utah will play hard and fight for 60 minutes in front of their beloved fans.