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Game Day Blog Archive

October 30: Game Day

10/30/2009 9:32 AM - Adam Turner
After last night’s statement 9-2 win against Las Vegas, the Grizzlies are now in Bakersfield to go against a Condors team that has also showed some firepower early this season.

As the Grizzlies were pulling into Las Vegas and getting settled in Wednesday night, Bakersfield was busy putting on their own fireworks show, as they handled Ontario 8-3 on the hands of five power-play goals after starting the season 1-22 on the power-play.

We mentioned it last night on the broadcast and Head Coach Kevin Colley echoed it as the team loaded the bus for the four-hour ride to Bakersfield: how pleased he was with the entire 60 minute effort; especially the way the Grizzlies played on special teams and in their own end. Not only did the team put up nine goals, going three for six on the power-play; but they also went 6-6 on the penalty-kill and goaltender Parker Van Buskirk made some fantastic saves; stopping 33 of 35 Las Vegas shots.

13 Utah players got in on the scoring including Matt Caria (one goal four assists) who now has one goal and six assists in his last two games after going scoreless in the first two games of his rookie career. With the last two games, Caria, is now in a familiar spot in a couple of league offensive categories. He is second among ECHL rookies with six assists and tied for third in scoring. Again, he has done all of this with the Grizzlies playing just four games and he has only scored in two of them. Familiar territory indeed for Caria, who finished fifth last year in the Ontario Hockey League in scoring just 12 points behind Islanders first overall draft pick John Tavares.

The third time this year in four games that Ryan Kinasewich has had three points or more not only got him within 15 of Chris Taylor for the all-time team lead, but also put him over 300 career ECHL points in 227 all-time games. Kinasewich now leads the league with seven goals in four games and is second in scoring with ten points. Again most teams have played six or seven already, yet Utah is still seeing skaters near the top.

Wednesday, it was announced that nine-year NHL veteran Kyle Calder was signed by Anaheim and assigned to Bakersfield for conditioning. Calder didn’t play Wednesday against Ontario and as of this morning, no reports mention him being here this evening, but we’ll wait and see as the day progresses.

As all new series start around the ECHL tonight, we will see if the Steelheads can stay undefeated as they swim into Alaska without one of the league’s hottest goaltenders in Rejean Beauchamin, who was called-up to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose yesterday. The Steelheads, who return to the E-Center Wednesday and Friday have signed Kevin Nastiuk to assist rookie Richard Bachman in between the pipes in the interim.

Looking for an exact repeat of last night’s display, the team went hard for 60-straight minutes and Kevin Colley still was coaching, teaching and mentoring late into the game as the Grizzlies found themselves in several situational positions, including a five-on-three shorthanded situation that they killed off easily.

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


October 29: Game Day

10/29/2009 8:32 AM - Adam Turner
Entering their fourth game of the season, Head Coach Kevin Colley has told the Grizzlies that they are a desperate hockey team and they need to reflect that going into tonight’s contest in Las Vegas.

I get the impression that the Grizzlies coaching staff feels that forward Dylan Hunter is really hitting his stride and will keep progressing offensively after being the only Utah player to score in each game thus far with one goal and two assists on the year. Hunter has impressed them with his systematic play and general knack for hockey after playing nearly 200 games in the AHL the last three seasons and dominating the Ontario Hockey League playing for his dad Dale in London.

Mark Pavli and Evan Stoflet will not play tonight or tomorrow for the Grizzlies while Tim Maxwell will make his 09-10 debut after being activated from IR on Saturday. Rookie Jason Dale will also make his debut tonight.

Colley has yet to announce who he will start the next two nights in between the pipes. Though, he and Assistant Coach Pat Curcio would definitely like to get whoever it is a few early goals. The Grizzlies have fallen behind 1-0 in the first period in each game thus far; though they have battled back to tie each evening.

The Grizzlies are dominating some key categories, outshooting the opposition 99-70, and never allowing more than 25 shots in one game. The talent is definitely there, but again it’s just a matter of getting this team, consisting of nine rookies, to play the system and use their teammates to compliment the individual talent.

The Wranglers rebounded from an opening night loss to Utah on October 16 by taking two of three games from Alaska; who came into the Orleans Arena last Thursday with a 3-0 record. Though Las Vegas will be without goaltender Michael Ouzas who was suspended following a match penalty against the Aces on Saturday so tonight the Grizzlies will get their first look at Joel Gistedt who suffered his first lost of the year, 5-2, to Alaska last Thursday. Either way, it’s a Las Vegas team that has allowed 16 goals over their first four games and has a team save percentage of .862. The Wranglers will also be without Shay Stephenson who has been suspended by the ECHL for tonight.

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


October 24: Game Day

10/24/2009 9:58 AM - Adam Turner
Comparing game one of the year, a 5-3 win in Las Vegas last Friday and the second game, a 3-2 loss to Idaho last night, the Grizzlies have proven to be very consistent in the penalty-killing and goals-allowed department.

Parker Van Buskirk has allowed three goals each the first two games of the year and the Grizzlies penalty-kill has gone 5-6 in each game. As far as shots allowed are concerned, the Grizzlies have allowed just 57 shots (23.50 per game) in the first two contests while outshooting the opposition in five-straight periods since being outdone 14-7 by Las Vegas in the first period last week. In total, the Grizzlies are dominating the season shotboard 66-47 against the opposition.

The issue last night was getting anything past Idaho goaltender Rejean Beauchamin who has undergone a career renaissance after a few mediocre years since being drafted by Philadelphia in 2003. Beauchamin, the reigning ECHL goaltender of the week, made the saves last night while the players in front of him cleared any available rebounds.

Kevin Colley and Pat Curcio’s top goal moving forward is getting the young Utah forwards all on the same page with their linemates to generate goals while working together.

Ryan Kinasewich had 11 shots last night as he still looks for his team record setting 112th goal. Him and his linemates Matt Caria (4) and AJ Perry (3) had 18 of the Grizzlies 37 shots last night.

The Grizzlies will look to get off to a bit of a better start tonight after surrendering the first goal in each game thus far, though in both cases they have battled back to eventually tie.

Tonight, the Grizzlies look to go 4-0 during “Pink in the Rink” games and get back on track with a 2-1 record through the first two weekends.

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


October 23: Game Day

10/23/2009 11:30 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies open their home schedule against the Idaho Steelheads tonight looking for their second-straight 2-0 start to a season;  actually they are looking to repeat a lot of things.

In 2007-2008, the Grizzlies defeated the Idaho Steelheads in two-straight games at the E-Center to start their home schedule by coming from behind two-straight nights in the third period. They beat them 5-4 in overtime on October 26, 2007 and October 27, 2007 in a shootout 4-3. A win tonight gives Utah their third-straight win on opening night at home.

Grizzlies fans will get used to Idaho early, not only do the Grizzlies play them 16 times, including two preseason contests earlier, before the playoffs, but their first four games are against Idaho. And if previous years are any indication, the Grizzlies and Steelheads are going to be in for some good ones. Last year, the two teams went past regulation in eight games, including five-straight games in less than a month from December 27-January 25. In total, they played nine one-goal games in 15 meetings.

While Ryan Kinasewich stole the show last week with three goals and one assist as he tied Chris Taylor atop the all-time team lead with 111 goals, seven other Grizzlies also put up at least a point as the team exploded for four goals in the final 31:19 while holding Las Vegas scoreless. James Sixmith, AJ Perry and Vlady Nikiforov also had two assists.

Utah enters tonight with two separate shutout streaks intact. Utah shutout Idaho the final 82:36 at the E-Center spanning two games last year, while blanking Las Vegas in the final 34:25 of last week’s game.

While the Grizzlies lost J.D. Watt to the AHL on Wednesday, Evan Kotsopoulos who almost doubles Watt’s offensive presence and toughness is expected to make his 09-10 debut tonight.

Special teams were huge for the Grizzlies last week as they went 3-7 on the power-play for a league-leading 43-percent clip as they outscored the Wranglers 3-1 on special teams play while five-on-five play was even at two.

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


October 16: Game Day

10/16/2009 7:57 AM - Adam Turner
This young Grizzlies team has drawn comparisons from Head Coach Kevin Colley to two years ago when the Grizzlies advanced to the conference finals. They are young, but unbelievably talented, following some assignees from the Calgary and New York Islanders organizations as well as free agent signings of their own. There are nine rookies on this year’s Utah club and ten players who are 22 or under, making it easily the youngest team in Grizzlies history.

Position wise, the Grizzlies will be youngest on the defensive end. Five of the six blueliners in tonight’s lineup will be rookies with Evan Stoflet being the only non-rookie after playing 53 games with the Grizzlies and then going on to lead Utah defensemen with a plus-21 last year. While the Grizzlies are young on d, they definitely are talented and have the tools to setup an excellent power-play. Dustin Friesen is considered a rookie but at the age of 26, after four years of junior hockey and five years of college, he’s definitely not a typical rookie. Vic Bartley played 10 games with Providence of the AHL last year after completing his junior career. Matt Clarke and Josh Meyers have already been going at it a while this season. Clarke attended rookie and training camp with the Colorado Avalanche, while Meyers was in Flames camp. Meanwhile, the six-foot-one Jake Gannon apparently hits as hard as anyone. Gannon was assigned to Utah Thursday from Bridgeport.

New Assistant Coach Pat Curcio definitely got started on the recruiting trail immediately, bringing in three players from his former team in the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights. Clarke, A.J. Perry and Dylan Hunter both had tremendous junior careers in winning environments in London.

Tonight’s opponent, the Las Vegas Wranglers, definitely has a different look following the departure of Head Coach Glen Gulutzan to the AHL’s Texas Stars and the addition of rookie coach and former Kelly Cup Championship teammate of Kevin Colley in 2003 in Atlantic City in Ryan Mougenel; who has spent the last four years in the ECHL as an Assistant Coach with Fresno and Stockton. The Wranglers return only three players from last year and Mougenel made a statement when trimming his final roster, as he axed Dan Riedel who put up 11 points in 17 regular season games with Las Vegas last year after being acquired from Dayton; not to mention 14 points in 17 playoff games. Mougenel did however bring four of his former players from last year in Fresno and Stockton into Las Vegas.

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


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