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Game Day Blog Archive

February 27: Game Day

02/27/2010 9:25 AM - Adam Turner
One player that the Grizzlies look to keep rolling going down the stretch is Tom May. The “Big Guy” has a goal in three straight games, after snapping an eight-game drought and always seems to enjoy playing against the Ontario Reign.

May has three goals in four games all-time at the Citizens Business Bank Arena and last year started his team record 10-game goal scoring streak and 12-game scoring streak overall against the Reign, while tallying four goals in six total games against Ontario. This year, the second-year pro has three goals and three assists for six points in just three games against the Reign.

Entering last night, Utah had seven of the top eight scorers in the ECHL this week as during the game three points from James Sixsmith put him above teammate Lance Galbraith for weekly scoring. With one goal and two assists and factoring in on all three Utah goals, Sixsmith leads the ECHL and is an early player of the week favorite with two goals and six assists in three games.

Ryan Kinasewich was a last second scratch last night, still a little banged up. I’d expect Utah to continue to nurse him back to 100-percent and give him a night off again tonight. Last night, he joined the Grizzlies coaches on the bench in a suit, which allowed him to still get some of his usual jabs to the game officials anytime they came close.

Last night, the Grizzlies didn’t put forth any unnecessary energy as things fell apart in the final six minutes. Tonight, a win gives Utah a 3-1 week and their best month of the year as February ends. The good thing last night is that no one gained any ground on Utah in the standings. Both first place teams in Idaho and Bakersfield built on their division leads with wins and Las Vegas kept pace with Ontario for the final playoff spot in the National Conference by beating Stockton 5-2. That being said, Utah obviously missed a chance to improve their lead on the fourth playoff spot in the conference.

As was predetermined yesterday going into the weekend series, Beau Erickson will start tonight for Utah who wraps up four games in five nights with a travel day in between. Erickson has comfortably moved into a stretch that has seen him go 3-2-0-1 with a 2.93 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage since January 29.

Click here to watch the KSL story that aired last evening as the Grizzlies Make-A-Wish come true for a West Valley City girl.

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


February 26: Game Day

02/26/2010 9:07 AM - Adam Turner
It’s been quite the birthday week for Lance Galbraith who turned 30 Sunday and tallied six points Wednesday in Utah’s 7-1 win over Stockton.

Galbraith wowed the rest of the National Conference Tuesday with his three goal and three assist effort. Emails from other broadcasters out west instantly began pouring in after the game’s final box score hit the wire. Galbraith’s big night had to really hit home in Anchorage, as Alaska, who traded the veteran to Utah on December 27, lost 6-2 in bad fashion in Boise the same night. Galbraith has 10 goals and 13 assists in 26 games with Utah after finishing with three goals, seven assists and a minus-15 in 23 games with Alaska in limited ice time before Christmas. Galbraith has ten goals and ten assists in his last 20 games for Utah as well. The feelings could even become more sour about losing the ice hot Galbraith if the Aces continue to struggle in Idaho and Galbraith finishes strong in Ontario this week and is named the ECHL’s Player of the Week headed to Alaska Wednesday and Thursday.

This quote from the Salt Lake Tribune Thursday really paints the whole Galbraith picture and explains his importance to the team. He is beyond selfless and this quote is not lip service by any stretch of the imagination. "I'm just happy to be a part of a winning hockey team," Galbraith said. "I'm happy to score tonight but ... but obviously [my teammates] can have all my goals if they add up to W's."

Ryan Kinasewich, who left the game in the second period Tuesday after a hit from Stockton’s Bryan Young, and did return, should be fine to go for this evening in usual duty.

The Grizzlies bring a three-game winning streak to sunny California looking to continue their 8-2-0-3 stretch and following a 4-1 home stand. However that was also the case with the Stockton Thunder who came to Utah 7-1-2-0 in their last ten games and was the hottest team in the National Conference before being knocked off of their game at the E-Center Tuesday and Wednesday, while allowing 12 goals to Utah in two bad losses. In professional sports momentum and focus is important, and it is sometimes easy for a team to somehow lose focus with a slight venue and culture change. Stockton was making their first trip to Utah and had a bad midweek, Utah makes their first and only trip to Ontario this year before heading to always challenging Anchorage next week. Stockton Head Coach Matt Thomas left Utah frustrated after watching his team instantly fall apart against a rolling Grizzlies group. Ontario, could be similar for Utah, if they’re not careful, as they enter the week winners of three games in a row.

It’s another hockey double-header on 1230 KFAN-2 this afternoon with the United States playing Finland at 1 p.m. in Vancouver for a chance at going to Sunday’s Gold Medal Game. That game will be followed by live coverage from Ontario for Grizzlies/Reign that begins at 8 p.m. with 30-minute pre-game programming followed by an 8:30 p.m. face-off.

Also during tonight’s Grizzlies action, keep your eyes on KSL-5 after the Olympics where Kathy Aiken will feature the Grizzlies and Vlady Nikiforov in a story with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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

February 24: Game Day

02/24/2010 9:07 AM - Adam Turner
At 25-21-2-5, and with 18 games left in the year, the Grizzlies are close to surpassing several of last year’s team totals. Utah is three wins away from 28 wins after going 28-28-6-10 last year. Utah has tied their highest home win total since 2005-2006 with 15 and four-games above .500 beats their highest watermark of last year’s second half of the season which was three games above .500 which they reached several times.

Special teams were huge Tuesday, with the Grizzlies going 2-4 on the power-play and then holding Stockton’s previously ranked top power-play to 0-4 and now 0-11 on the season against Utah as the Grizzlies now hold the number-one ranked power-play in the league. The Grizzlies are five-for-eleven on the power-play. So with special teams in control, the Grizzlies now look to avoid giving up four five-on-five goals in game.

We definitely saw a lot of firepower last night with Kinasewich (one goal, three assists), Sixsmith (one goal, two assists) and Perry (two assists) combining for nine points. However we also saw a lot from Stockton’s number-one line with James Bates adding two assists. He now has four goals and three assists in his last two games against the Grizzlies.

Doubleheader action today on 1230 KFAN-2 with the United States/Switzerland at 1 p.m. followed by Grizzlies/Stockton at 6:35 p.m.

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

February 23: Game Day

02/23/2010 9:03 AM - Adam Turner
If you have any questions about the Stockton Thunder feel free to ask Matt Sorteberg.

The Grizzlies defenseman, who was acquired from Idaho on January 13, had already played nine games against the Thunder as a Steelhead before his first game with Utah and Utah’s first meeting of the year versus Stockton on January 15.

If all plays out, the Grizzlies rookie could end up playing 19 regular season games against Stockton, and ironically enough, if the playoffs started today, based on winning percentage, the Grizzlies and Thunder would meet in the first round.

The Grizzlies power-play will happily welcome back Ryan Kinasewich. In his latest absence, the Grizzlies went 4-27 (14.8-percent), including a 2-21 stretch. During his first call-up of the year, the Grizzlies went 6-28 on the power-play, which included a 1-15 slump. With Kinasewich in the lineup this year, the Grizzlies power-play is 50-220 (22.7-percent) and he has tallied 25 of his 39 assists on the power-play.

Get used to Stockton, the Grizzlies begin five-straight home games against them tonight and eight of their next 14 games overall against the Thunder.

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


February 20: Game Day

02/20/2010 10:37 AM - Adam Turner
After nearly three weeks of solid hockey, the Grizzlies hit a bump in the road last night, but still enter this evening with a chance to take two of three games against the second-best team in the National Conference tonight.

After the first five minutes last night, the Grizzlies never were really able to pull anything together as they dropped just their second contest in the last 14 days.

All season, Kevin Colley has played Saturday’s by ear as far as the game day schedule. Usually wrapping up three games in four nights on a Saturday, players generally have spent enough time at the rink and on the ice throughout the course of the week and there isn’t too much to rehash or accomplish with another morning skate. In some cases, it’s just better for the players to sleep in, clear their mind and rest as they prepare to wrap up a busy stretch; especially after an out of character loss like last night. Sometimes it’s an optional skate, if the team is on the road, going to the arena may be replaced with a team walk. Today, the Grizzlies were given the morning off from even coming to the arena and will not report until 5 p.m. At which point, I would assume there will be a video session for both forwards and defensemen.

Some coaches burn their players out after a tough loss with hours and hours of video and extra time on the ice which can just turn into mental anguish and frustration. Kevin Colley, at 31, and not far removed from his playing days, treats every situation differently and earns respect from his players for that. There is a time to be militant, but not all the time. Especially this day in age, the coaches who adapt to their players and don’t get stuck in their own ways are the most successful. See; Ken Hitchcock, who was recently fired by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After a tough loss three weeks ago to Las Vegas, which occurred in similar fashion to last night’s 5-2 loss, the Grizzlies responded with a 3-1 win over the Wranglers the next night. Utah needs to cleanup the turnovers which lead to Salmon Kings odd-man rushes and hang the goaltender out to dry. Victoria is always looking for their next chance, sometimes at the expense of playing defense, and last night they were able to take advantage of a sloppy Utah group.

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


February 19: Game Day

02/19/2010 8:51 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies look to continue a nice stretch tonight that has seen them go 5-1-0-3 in their last nine games.

Utah has won three-straight games at home, outscoring the opposition 10-4 in that stretch and looks for their third unbeaten streak of the year of three-games or more tonight; having gone 2-0-0-1 in their last three contests. February also continues to be friendly to Utah as they are 4-1-0-3 in the year’s second calendar month.

The Grizzlies, who haven’t scored more than one goal in their last 13 periods and haven’t scored four goals in regulation in six-straight games, continue to build their success around strong defense, penalty-killing and goaltending. Utah has allowed three goals or less through overtime in eight of their last nine games and in six-straight contests overall. Beau Erickson has won three-straight games at home and has a 1.29 goals-against-average during that stretch with a .957 save percentage.

Offensively, James Sixsmith has factored in on four of Utah’s last five goals, while two goals for Vlady Nikiforov Wednesday improved Utah to 10-0 when the forward scores a goal. Five Utah skaters had at least four shots on goal (Nikiforov 6, Galbraith 5, Carpentier 4, Sixsmith 4, Aston 4) or more Wednesday and Utah has 33 shots or more in four-straight against Victoria and 31 or more shots in their last seven home games.

Both teams were shorthanded (injuries, illness) Wednesday, as the Grizzlies dressed nine forwards and five defensemen, while Victoria went with three less than the maximum suiting up only eight forwards and five defensemen for two teams that already have key players in the AHL. Utah has six players from their opening night roster currently in the American Hockey League, including two of their top four leading scorers in Ryan Kinasewich and Dylan Hunter. Victoria is still missing scorer Olivier Latendresse who remains with Abbotsford in the AHL. He tallied two goals and four assists in the Salmon Kings first four games against Utah this year.

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


February 17: Game Day

02/17/2010 9:03 AM - Adam Turner
As the Grizzlies have rolled off a 4-1-0-3 stretch, one underrated factor involved in the success has clearly been the Utah penalty-kill.

Since giving up a three power-play goals in a game in Alaska on Friday, January 8, that sent Utah to last in the league in ECHL penalty-killing, the Grizzlies have moved up seven spots to 13th and allowed more than one power-play goal just once in their last 16 games.

Utah has gone 7-5-0-4 in that stretch and 4-2-0-3 in their last nine games in which they have stepped things up to go 34-38 (89.3-percent) in shorthanded situations.

Hugo Carpentier returns to the Utah lineup today. While it is great for Utah to get a player with the talent of an NHL contract, he will need to adjust to becoming a Grizzly again. When a player comes down, the biggest adjustment can sometimes be realizing that this is his team and he just needs to play and assimilate here as opposed to worrying about getting called back up while isolating himself. If he focuses on the latter and becomes part of the locker room, it will benefit both parties. One player who has done a great job of that lately is Tony Romano. While he’s on an NHL contract with New York, he’s not thinking of when his next call-up is going to be. Instead, he has made himself a productive member of the Grizzlies and in turn has made himself a better all-around hockey player, while being a big part of the team’s success.

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

February 13: Game Day

02/13/2010 12:01 PM - Adam Turner
More solid goaltending from Mitch O’Keefe kept the Grizzlies in the contest last night as they improved to 21-4-2-2 when allowing three goals or less.

For Utah it also marked the sixth time in the last seven games that they have allowed three goals or less, a stretch that has seen them go 4-1-0-2. It is Utah’s best goals-allowed stretch since they allowed three goals or less in eight of nine games from November 7-25 when they rattled off an eight and one stretch.

The Grizzlies finally broke through against the Steelheads last night. It was the first time in 13 games and the first time since opening night in 2008-2009 that they have won a one-goal game against Idaho. It ended an 0-3-4-5 stretch against the Steelheads in one-goal contests.

Tonight, Utah looks for their first winning streak in Idaho since they won three-straight from November 16, 2007-October 16, 2008. All three of those were one-goal wins. That is Utah’s only winning streak in Boise, but tonight they look for wins here on back-to-back nights for the first time ever.

Utah is currently 2-1-0-2 on this road trip and has come from behind in four of the five contests, three of which have been third period comebacks, which have earned them two wins and one shootout loss. For Utah, their competition on this trip should not be overlooked. The Steelheads are 33-11-0-4 with 70 points, second in the league only to South Carolina (73). Victoria is 26-7-4-1 since November 14 and 19-1-0-1 at home during that stretch. Idaho and Victoria are the top two teams record wise in the National Conference

All five games on this trip have been decided on one goal and four have gone to shootouts as Utah has collected six of a possible ten points thus far.

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


February 12: Game Day

02/12/2010 10:05 AM - Adam Turner
With the Olympic opening ceremonies tonight in Vancouver, it will be interesting to see how the Olympic Break in the NHL affects the AHL and in turn trickles down to the ECHL.

Most NHL teams are expected to send maybe three prospects to their American Hockey League affiliates during the break which will also trickle down to the ECHL. I would not be surprised to see the Grizzlies get some bodies from both Bridgeport and Abbotsford during this time, which could also help going down the stretch. In 2007-2008, when the Sound Tigers did not make the playoffs, skaters like Jeff Dwyer, Tyler Haskins and Andrew MacDonald returned to the team as they made their conference finals run. The only catch is that for a player to play in the ECHL playoffs, he must have played five regular season games with the ECHL club; which could get done during a short two-week Olympic stretch.

With that being said, both Ryan Kinasewich and Dylan Hunter, who were loaned to AHL teams earlier this week, might be likely to return in the next week or so as well do to this.

James Sixsmith will return to the lineup tonight for Utah and is expected to get ice time with AJ Perry on the number-one line, with likely Tom May or Vlady Nikiforov.

As the coaching staff went over the video on Wednesday night that the Grizzlies lost 1-0, they felt that the team outplayed Idaho in every aspect, especially in quality scoring chances which were 26-14 in favor of Utah.

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

February 10: Game Day

02/10/2010 9:35 AM - Adam Turner
If the Grizzlies and Steelheads two series last weekend are any indication of this three-game-in-four-night set that begins tonight in Boise, get ready for some more wild hockey.

While Utah trailed in all three games by as many as three goals and Saturday, like Victoria Wednesday and Friday was unable to hold a third period lead; the Steelheads played a three-game series in Las Vegas that saw the team who scored first lose all three evenings. In Thursday’s contest, the Steelheads blew a 4-0 third period lead and lost 5-4 in a shootout.

Like Utah’s Victoria series that saw all three games go to shootouts, Idaho played in shootouts Thursday and Friday before rallying from a 2-1 second period deficit Saturday to win 4-2.

Speaking of blown leads and shootouts, the Grizzlies carried a 2-0 lead before falling 4-3 in a shootout in their last visit here on January 13. Utah and Idaho have now gone past regulation in two of their last three contests.

Shootouts seem to be coming more and more part of the game, last night in the NHL, four of the contests went into a fifth period.

James Sixsmith, who did travel to Victoria due to illness, rejoined the Grizzlies in Boise Monday and is a game-time decision for tonight. As would be expected, during practice yesterday, #18 looked as sharp as ever after a week off.

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


February 6: Game Day

02/06/2010 10:48 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies have come into Victoria and with the exception of two first period one-minute lapses controlled the contests against a Salmon Kings team that entered the week 15-1 in their last sixteen home games.

Utah is still looking for an answer as to why Wednesday they surrendered two goals in 29 seconds and last night allowed two Wes Goldie scores in 50 seconds but their unbelievable ability to shift into overdrive as the game goes on against one of the hottest teams in the league, has collected three of a possible four points through two games on this trip and has run their unbeaten streak to 3-0-0-1. Utah is playing now as a confident team that isn’t getting rattled when they fall behind, much as they were earlier this season when they seemed to be rallying from down two-goals on a weekly basis.

Take a look at the scoring so far in this series
1st period: Victoria 5 Utah 1
2nd period: Utah 4 Victoria 3
3rd period: Utah 4 Victoria 1

The Grizzlies are rolling all three lines. Last night they built up scoring chances before and after shifts by Kinasewich, Perry and Hunter which allowed those powerful offensive threats to keep the momentum going as opposed to starting from scratch each shift, which we have seen this year as the other lines have struggled.

Vlady Nikiforov looks 100-percent recovered from his early season injuries and Tony Romano, is learning each game what it takes to be successful as a pro, as he has run his scoring streak to four games after both him and Nikiforov had a goal and an assist last night.

21-year-old rookie Brett Parnham, who is looking to snap a 26-game goalless skid after putting up four in his first seven games with the Grizzlies, definitely contributed though last night with the game-clinching shootout goal to run his shootout stats this year to three-for-four to lead the team.

Kevin Colley said last night that the Grizzlies don’t need a shutout from their goaltender each night, they just need him to keep the team in the game and give them a chance to win. Mitch O’Keefe definitely did that, stopping 23-straight at one point and 29 of 30 to finish the game after the Salmon Kings got their two early goals on five shots.

Here's the link to the story we talked about last night on the broadcast about Victoria native Tim Crowder as he returns home for the first time as a pro.

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


February 5: Game Day

02/05/2010 9:29 AM - Adam Turner
As we have been expecting, the Grizzlies have indeed finalized their trade with Florida from December 15, as Utah will soon have goaltender Mike Morrison and his NHL experience. Morrison completes the future considerations part of the trade. The way the deal was worded, was that once Florida had three goaltenders on their roster for 48-straight hours, then Utah would automatically get Morrison, who officially is reassigned from Florida to Utah by Albany of the AHL. January 15 at 2 p.m. pacific time in Stockton marked the 48th hour and at 4 p.m. when I picked up Kevin Colley and Pat Curcio at the hotel to drive them back to the arena for that night’s game, Kevin had a smile on his face. However, the Everblades were on a road trip as well and Morrison was soon called-up to Albany, which is why, the reassigning didn’t come officially until yesterday.

The Salmon Kings will be without Olivier Latendresse for probably the weekend. The forward who had two goals Wednesday has been loaned to the British Columbia mainland and the Abbotsford Heat, who also called up Idaho rookie all-star and scoring sensation Evan Barlow earlier this week. Utah will be in Boise next week as their AHL affiliate and top affiliate of the Flames works two other teams around the National Conference for players.

Wednesday night, despite trailing for around 50-straight minutes, the Grizzlies never showed any signs that they were looking ahead to Friday and were going to settle for a loss. While Victoria had two separate three-goal leads in the game, and trailed 6-4 with under seven minutes left, Utah just kept pushing away in the Victoria end and completely dominated the third period winning every battle and ultimately tying the game and earning a point in the shootout loss.

The Grizzlies comeback was aided by their ability to stay out of the penalty box and keep the game five-on-five. With just three shorthanded situations, Utah has now gone shorthanded just 11 times in their last four games.

Utah was also able to keep Wes Goldie, who is second to Ryan Kinasewich (32 goals) with 28 goals, under control. Goldie has scored 40 goals in three-straight previous seasons with the Salmon Kings and Kevin Colley made a very valid but simple point on how to play him as he and Pat Curcio ate dinner on the media level Wednesday night. Kevin said, “he has 28 goals and nine assists, which means when he gets the puck, he’s shooting not passing.”

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


February 3: Game Day

02/03/2010 9:26 AM - Adam Turner
It’s amazing to see how adding a few new bodies to the lineup fuels confidence for the rest of the team and in turn results in better individual and team play as evidenced in Monday’s 4-1 win that Utah dominated from the start.

As they hit the road for Victoria, the Grizzlies are much deeper than the last time they went on the road for eight-straight. Defensemen Peter Aston, Kyle Radke and Matt Sorteberg were not with the team at the beginning of the last road trip as they staggered through 60 minutes short on the blueline, which usually resulted in some heartbreaking third periods. Up front Dylan Hunter and Steve McJannet weren’t active either and the Grizzlies will soon hopefully add James Sixsmith back to the mix.

Sixsmith, came down with something early Tuesday morning and did not make the trip to Victoria with the club and will not play tonight. He is expected to join the Grizzlies on the trip either later this week or next week in Boise depending on when he starts to feel better. Sixsmith will be replaced in the lineup by rookie Tim Crowder who was a healthy scratch on Monday. Crowder is a Victoria native and will be playing here professionally for the first time.

Beau Erickson who’s numbers (3.22 GAA, .895 save percentage) all of a sudden are getting close to where he could like his averages to be, will get the start again tonight for Utah to continue Kevin Colley’s philosophy that you’re the starting goaltender until you lose a game. Erickson allowed just two goals in two games Saturday and Monday, just over 72 hours after being pulled after surrendering two goals on nine first period shots to Las Vegas. It was the second time in three starts that Erickson had been hooked.

Coming to Victoria and opening the sports section can be a bit deceiving, especially for hockey people from Utah. Victoria also hosts a Junior B team in the BCHL called the Victoria Grizzlies and this morning there were two headlines with the word “Grizzlies” in it.

The Salmon Kings who scored just four goals in three regulation games last week in Stockton, have reloaded with the addition of Chad Painchaud, who returns from Manitoba, along with NHL contractee Matt Siddall. Both are point-a-game players in the ECHL.

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


February 1: Game Day

02/01/2010 9:45 AM - Adam Turner
February’s have been the Grizzlies best month since joining the ECHL as tonight they begin their fifth February.

The Grizzlies have recorded winning months in three of the last four February’s, including 2006 (ten wins) and 2008 (9-3-0-1) with their top two months in team ECHL history.

Saturday night, both teams definitely responded to their coaches frustration about Friday’s 8-5 contest. Not only was Kevin Colley unhappy with the amount of giveaways and sloppy play in his own end, but Wranglers Head Coach Ryan Mougenel was equally dissatisfied despite picking up a win. It was the first time in four games that the Grizzlies have allowed three goals or less and for the Wranglers the first time in five games that they have allowed three goals or less.

A goaltender from each team stole the show both Friday and Saturday. Friday Michael Ouzas made 51 saves while Saturday Beau Erickson, turned in his second solid E-Center start out of three to earn his first Utah win stopping 31 of 32 shots. Erickson stopped 31 of 33 shots in his Grizzlies debut December 31 in a 3-2 shootout loss to Victoria.

The first two games of this series has been exclusively controlled with five-on-five play with the exception of a couple of late empty-netters. So in other words, the power-play’s haven’t exactly been as effective as we have seen. Utah is 0 for their last 13 on the one-man advantage and one for their last 19 overall against the Wranglers who believe it or not are in a worse funk. Las Vegas, with the worst ranked power-play in the league is two for their last 48.

So today, the Grizzlies go for two-straight wins for the first time since December 2-4 and the Wranglers look for their first series win out of four on their current ten-game road trip that has seen them go 2-7 thus far.

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