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Game Day Blog Archive

December 31: Game Day

12/31/2009 8:45 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies complete their most successful calendar year since joining the ECHL tonight with their 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve affair against Victoria.

Utah is currently 32-27-5-8 in 2009. They went 29-29-5-13 in 2008, 28-40-0-14 in 2007, 31-43-9 in 2006 and 33-39-4 including 45 AHL games in 2005.

With Brock Wilson joining the Utah lineup after being acquired from Toledo, tonight marks the fifth time in the last eight games that the Grizzlies have had at least one player play their first game with the team. If Beau Erickson gets the start in goal, it will be the third time in the last eight games that the Grizzlies have had two players make their Utah debuts in the same game.

We definitely saw the heavy weights on their A-games last night as far as scorers were concerned. While Ryan Kinasewich added two third period goals, AJ Perry extended his scoring streak to seven and Lance Galbraith, who moved up to the 9,37 line after one period, had two assists a plus-three and six shots in his Grizzlies debut; the Salmon Kings got three points each from the line of Wes Goldie (two goals, one assist) and the two Olivier’s: Filion (three assists) and Latendresse (one goal, two assists.)

Kinasewich can set a new season-high with a seven-game scoring streak tonight, while AJ Perry (four goals and 10 assists from November 13-27) can tie a season-high with a seven-game scoring streak.  Tom May had his five-game scoring streak snapped last night and has been held off the scoreboard only once in the last 16 games entering tonight.

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


December 30: Game Day

12/30/2009 8:30 AM - Adam Turner
Lance Galbraith will play his second game ever as a member of the Utah Grizzlies tonight when he dons his familiar #71 at the E-Center.

Galbraith, acquired in a trade Sunday, takes over #71 which was previously worn by Vlady Nikiforov who switches to #44. It will also be his second game for the Grizzlies all-time after playing one game with Utah April 2, 2004 in the AHL as Utah dropped a 5-2 decision to the San Antonio Rampage. Galbraith had two shots and a minus-two in the game to go along with two penalty minutes.

The Grizzlies, with four games in hand, trail Idaho by 14 points for first place entering tonight after the Steelheads dropped Las Vegas’ annual midnight game last night or this morning, 3-1, to lose their second-straight game for the first time this year. Meanwhile Victoria comes to Utah with a very deceiving 1-8-3-0 road record as they carry a nine-game unbeaten streak overall at 8-0-1-0 into tonight. After starting the year 1-9, the Salmon Kings are above .500 at 14-13-3-0 for the first time this year and trail Utah by one point entering tonight, though Utah carries three-games in hand. So in both directions, this is a big division series for the Grizzlies.

Will we see a shootout tonight or tomorrow or maybe two? The Grizzlies and the Salmon Kings are the only two teams in the ECHL to not have gone to a “fifth period” this year.

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


December 26: Game Day

12/26/2009 10:04 AM - Adam Turner
After being scheduled to host the Steelheads in six of their first 17 home games, Idaho makes their final E-Center visit of the year tonight in a post-Christmas, Boxing Day Special.

The games have been close when the Grizzlies and Idaho have met around the holidays, with the two teams playing three-straight 3-2 December E-Center games. Overall, Utah and the Steelheads have gone past regulation in eight of their last 14 contests played at the E-Center.

After tonight, the two teams will complete their 14-game season series with six-straight at the Quest Arena starting January 13.

If Beau Erickson gets the start tonight for Utah it will be his first action since December 12 in a 3-2 loss at Cincinnati. The rookie who joined Utah Monday with Reading having two contracted goaltenders set in stone; did not allow more than three goals in five starts this year for the North Division leading Royals and was described by someone within the Reading organization as this: “Beau played pretty well for us--and he's hungry for a chance.”

Ironically Tim Crowder’s only pro game before signing with Utah on Monday was against the Grizzlies on December 11 in Bakersfield in which he logged two shots. Crowder becomes the second former Condor to join the Grizzlies in less than two weeks following the acquisition of Patrik Prokop as well.

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


December 19: Game Day

12/19/2009 10:21 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies look to go into Christmas on a high note this evening as they complete their series with Bakersfield and four of their last five games against the Condors.

Utah, which got their power-play clicking last night after three-straight games without a power-play goal, now looks to get things going five-on-five having not scored more than two goals in their last two games. The Grizzlies also look to get somebody involved beyond AJ Perry who has scored the Grizzlies last four goals, all assisted by Ryan Kinasewich. Kinasewich, who has nine points in his last eight games has gone four-straight games since his last goal and hasn’t had a game-winning goal for Utah since November 14, which was the last game before his call-up to Hamilton of the AHL. At that point, the Grizzlies captain had scored five of Utah’s eight game-winning goals. Ryan is definitely primed for a breakout game, still leading the league with 117 shots.

Utah has also been successful when Vlady Nikiforov and Brett Parnham score, having gone 3-0 when either of those players lights the lamp in a game.

The Grizzlies, during this five-game winless skid have led in three of the five games, but have never been able to gain a two-goal lead, having power-play chances to do so in all three games.

Utah looks to head into the weeklong Christmas break on a high note. Here is what they have done on their last game before Christmas the previous four seasons in the ECHL

December 22, 2005; 5-2 win over Victoria
December 23, 2006; 6-3 loss at Bakersfield
December 19, 2007; 6-1 loss at home to Fresno
December 20, 2008; 3-2 overtime loss at Las Vegas

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


December 18: Game Day

12/18/2009 8:37 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies look to continue to take advantage of early season home games tonight when they welcome in Bakersfield. Utah plays 20 of their first 30 games at home to start the year.

After starting the year 1-3 at home, Utah went 7-2-1-0 on their ten-game home stand that wrapped up December 5. While Bakersfield is 12-2 at home, the Pacific Division leading Condors are 4-5-2-0 on the road and lost 2-1 in Ontario Wednesday. The Grizzlies lost 5-1 Wednesday in Idaho, so we have two teams looking for some goals entering tonight.

Utah has scored six goals in their last four games, while Bakersfield has nine goals in their last four games. Very out of character for two teams who enter tonight near the 3.5 goals-per-game tier. Both teams though have had to regroup and reload following several AHL call-ups.

Utah though overall, has kept Bakersfield in check, allowing them just three goals each in the first three games against them. Parker Van Buskirk has started all three games against the Condors this year with a  2.96 goals-against-average and a .902 save percentage.

For Utah, their hottest three forwards are Tom May, Ryan Kinasewich and AJ Perry. They all three continue to click and Perry has scored Utah’s last two goals, that have both been assisted by Ryan Kinasewich. May has eight goals and four assists in his last 12 games dating back to November 20.

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


December 16: Game Day

12/16/2009 9:35 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies play their final road game before 2010 and before they open an eight-game road trip January 2 in Las Vegas.

Another classic Steelheads/Grizzlies battle, don’t act like you’ve been waiting six months for this one. These two teams have already met six times in less than two months to start the year and still have six meetings left after tonight, including five in Boise.

Utah and Idaho went to overtime in their last meeting on Saturday, December 5 something that they did in eight of 15 games last year, including four-straight from December 27-January 25. I only bring it up because Utah has now gone to overtime in two of their last three games against the National Conferences’ top two teams and in three of their last five games overall after skating past regulation just once in their first 15 contests.

The Grizzlies will really be putting an emphasis on the first ten minutes tonight after giving up 10 shots in the first 10 minutes Friday before falling behind 1-0 and giving up a power-play goal less than five minutes into the contest Saturday to fall behind again. In eight of their nine non-wins this year, the Grizzlies have given up the first goal.

Ryan Hand will be in the lineup tonight for Utah as the team adds an enforcer who has been described as starving to get back on the ice after suffering an injury. Kevin Colley likes hungry hockey players. Vlady Nikiforov is also expected to back in the lineup.

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


December 12: Game Day

12/12/2009 10:13 AM - Adam Turner
Nearly two months into the season, it is fair to say that Utah, Idaho and Bakersfield, the top three teams in the National Conference are definite contenders and the top five teams overall that the ECHL has to offer. The head-to-head matchups have justified that.

As Utah enters game three of six-straight against the other top two in the conference, we have seen two playoff like games. Utah fell 3-2 in overtime to Idaho Saturday and lost 3-1 last night to Bakersfield. But what really separates these teams from the rest is their goals-allowed, especially as of late. They all protect their own end and make it difficult  to score.
Utah has allowed just eight goals in their last three games and two goals or less in nine of their 22 games while allowing three goals or less in 17 of 22 games total. Bakersfield has allowed two goals or less in seven of nine games during their all-time team high nine-game winning streak at home. Idaho has allowed three goals or less in all but five games this year.

Utah would like a few more power-play situations tonight after just three Friday, though they only took one penalty all night. I can’t say that referee Shane Warschaw was letting things go, but the veteran ECHL official, who is 100-percent top notch in every aspect, has definitely let the teams play this year and has left himself out of the spotlight as a referee should do every night. With Utah’s second-ranked ECHL power-play though, you’d obviously like to see more than three chances in a game. Though again, I’m not implying that last night they should have had more.  However, we’ve seen that when the Grizzlies drive hard to the net, they will easily earn minors. Tom May and Shea Guthrie have really excelled in that department as of late.

The Grizzlies though, at 6-2 on the road played a decent road game last night, there were really no black eyes, beyond some bad luck. The Condors first goal came, with a Utah player fallen on the ice after blocking a shot, the second one came on a puck that had to be pretty close to being blown dead in the crease following the second period face-off and the third goal came via an equipment malfunction suffered by Grizzlies goaltender Parker Van Buskirk, who had the puck in his glove before it squirted away. Utah felt that they played strong last Saturday as well, but just missed a few bounces. That will happen during the course of a year. Utah has scored three goals or less in six of their last eight games, which is definitely out of character too, though last night is the first evening, I believe that a few more shots and scoring chances would have changed the outcome. Utah tied a season-low last night with 20 shots.

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


December 11: Game Day

12/11/2009 9:57 AM - Adam Turner
After 29 days, the 14-6-1-0 Grizzlies return to the road tonight in Bakersfield.

Utah is 6-1 away from home this year, after their last road game which was a 5-3 win in Las Vegas on November 13, and defeated Bakersfield here 6-3 on October 30 to improve to 3-2 and win their second-straight game.

It’s a matchup of two teams who have seen their fair share of roster call-ups, which of course is the goal at this level for both players and coaches. Six Grizzlies have experienced call-ups since Utah’s last trip to Bakersfield, though Ryan Kinasewich and Matt Clarke have both returned. Meanwhile, on the Bakersfield side, five players have been promoted to the next level since the Halloween Eve affair; including Dan Sexton who is turning into a star on the Anaheim Ducks already. Sexton had two goals in just his third NHL game Tuesday, including the tying goal with 62 seconds left as Anaheim battled back from a 3-0 deficit  and ultimately defeated Dallas 4-3 in overtime. It’s a Bakersfield team that will debut four new players tonight, including former Grizzlies Jason Dale and Evan Stoflet who were acquired from Utah for future considerations Tuesday.

While Utah has established themselves as one of the top road teams in the league, Bakersfield looks for a team record ninth-straight home win tonight at the Rabobank Arena. They’re last home loss came to the Grizzlies back on October 30.

The Rabobank Arena is one of the toughest in the league to play in, the Condors are sixth in the league in attendance, and the fans here are stacked right on top of the action, so it gets loud for the top entertainment attraction in town. However, while the Grizzlies fell behind 1-0 9:20 into the game October 30 on a Sexton goal, they battled back to tie 1:27 later on  a Ryan Kinasewich goal and never trailed again. When Bakersfield tied the game at two at 9:06, Utah made it 3-2, 1:11 later at 10:17 of the second period and again stifled the momentum and the crowd.

Despite several evolutions in this year’s roster, Utah continues to remain very young. With the addition of Tony Romano, who will make his debut tonight, 10 Grizzlies enter tonight 22 years of age or under.

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


December 5: Game Day

12/05/2009 10:13 AM - Adam Turner
Not only is tonight a battle of first-place versus second-place in the ECHL’s West Division, but it also features the top two ECHL teams in terms of winning percentage.

Idaho comes into tonight at 17-4-0-1 with a .795 winning percentage following last night’s 6-1 loss to Alaska in Boise, while Utah inched back to .700, running their record to 14-6 in a 6-2 win over Ontario. In fact tonight, begins a three-game set for Utah against the division leader from the West and the Pacific. They travel to Bakersfield next weekend for Friday, Saturday games. The Condors are 14-6-1-0 and 8-1-1-0 in their last ten.

The Steelheads opted to bus all night and arrived in Salt Lake at roughly 4 a.m.; they won’t skate this morning at the E-Center. After a 7-2 loss to the Steelheads on November 6, Utah bussed day of game to Idaho and beat the Steelheads 3-0 on 22 shots November 7. So while, Idaho is wrapping up a three-game-in-three-night set tonight following travel, they obviously should not be discounted as Utah, coming off of an embarrassing loss last month motored into Boise and took the win as Idaho looked motionless. Two of Idaho’s four losses this year have come to Utah and the Grizzlies have won two of three against them as tonight they look to hand Idaho their first two-game losing streak of the year.

Dylan Hunter, under the weather, is a game-time decision for Utah again, but last night we saw everyone step up in Dylan’s absence with Tom May tallying one goal and three assists and Shea Guthrie finishing one shy of a hat trick. It was nice to see Utah get a win in dominating fashion with AJ Perry and Ryan Kinasewich not accounting for five of six goals which has been typical. Last night was a complete team game and I think Kevin Colley saw some guys step up he’s been waiting to hear from.

Vlady Nikiforov (one goal, four assists) carries a three-game scoring streak into tonight. Kinasewich has five assists in his last two games. Other two games scoring streaks for the Grizzlies include: Vic Bartley: two goals, one assist; Evan Kotsopoulos: three assists; Shea Guthrie: two goals, one assist; Brett Parnham: one goal, two assists; AJ Perry: one goal, two assists.

With 13 goals, five on the power-play and just two goals allowed last night, the Grizzlies appear just about back to normal after giving up 17 goals in their previous three games before last night and tallying nine goals in their last four games before Wednesday.

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


December 4: Game Day

12/04/2009 8:38 AM - Adam Turner
It’s been a wild week out west in the ECHL starting with Utah’s 7-6 overtime win versus Ontario Wednesday.

While the Grizzlies built a 5-0 first period lead and led for all but 6:48 of the 63:18 contest, a similar game occurred in Boise last night with the Steelheads and Aces. Idaho built a 4-0 first period lead, but had to hold on for the 6-4 win that was 5-3 going to the third period. Meanwhile, later Thursday evening in Las Vegas, the Wranglers led 3-2 going to the third period, then trailed 5-4, before rallying and adding a late empty-netter for the 7-5 win. That game saw six goals scored in the first 10:16 of the third period.

Speaking of wild, the Grizzlies and Ontario have now played back-to-back 7-6 games going past regulation. While Utah was unable to hold a 6-3 third period lead Wednesday, the Reign led Utah 6-3 in the third on January 17 in California before Utah scrambled back with three goals in a 4:27 stretch to force overtime before Ontario prevailed in a shootout. Definitely very unusual, for two teams that aren’t known for their high-scoring affairs. Though the Reign, who entered Wednesday averaging just 2.71 goals-per-game have now scored six or more goals four times this year, the same as the Grizzlies who enter tonight averaging 3.8 goals-per-game.

The Grizzlies and Ontario have played some close games since the Reign joined the league last year. Utah is 5-1-0-1 against them with six of the seven contests being decided by a goal and four of the games going past regulation.

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


December 2: Game Day

12/02/2009 8:48 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies enter the week looking to get back on track. It is a Utah team that is frustrated and embarrassed from top to bottom after last weekend’s games against Alaska.

Last night on “Grizzlies Live” at Ruby Tuesday, Vic Bartley joined Kevin Colley and Tim Maxwell. Bartley had some very pointed comments about the weekend.

Vic Bartley: You’re not going to have 70 perfect games, but the way we played wasn’t acceptable, the way we lost wasn’t acceptable. The effort and the skating: we didn’t play like Grizzlies should, we identified it (Tuesday) in some good video and we’ll be ready for (Wednesday night).

Click here to listen to Kevin Colley last night on "Grizzlies Live"

Utah and the Reign haven’t seen a whole lot of each other since Ontario joined the league last year. Ontario came to the E-Center just once last season for three games in early November, while Utah played two games in the Inland Empire in January and one in March. This year, the Reign come back to the E-Center for three games in January and just one trip is scheduled for Southern California for the Grizzlies. Utah will face the Reign just seven times this year, the fewest of any opponent after going 4-1-0-1 against them last season.

Alaska: Home: 3, Away: 5
Bakersfield: Home: 5, Away: 3
Idaho: Home: 6, Away: 8
Las Vegas: Home: 7, Away: 7
Ontario: Home: 5, Away: 2
Stockton: Home: 5, Away: 5
Victoria: Home: 5, Away: 6

Ontario can’t be very happy either after being swept out of Victoria by a combined score of 7-1 last week. The Reign are winless in five of their last six games and complete their road trip with games three and four here.

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


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