November 28 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/28/2010 11:54 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies complete three-games-in-three-nights and four games-in five-nights looking for a perfect 4-0 week through California this evening in Ontario.
Utah improved to 9-2-1-1 on the road last night and took control of the Western Conference with a 3-2 win in Bakersfield running their conference leading record to 10-4-2-1. The Grizzlies arrived in Ontario around 1 a.m., but have shown no signs of road weariness the last few years. Utah was 3-0 on travel days last year and won their first game of the season on a travel day yesterday in Bakersfield. The Grizzlies also went 7-1-1-0 last year playing three-games-in-three nights.
The Grizzlies and J.P. Lamoureux have allowed just five goals and two five-on-five goals during the first three games of this trip. Lamoureux has a 3-0 record, a 1.67 goals-against-average and a .953 save percentage. He has stopped 101 of 106 shots this week.
Utah has also taken advantage of early power-plays, scoring on their first power-play in each of the first three games on this trip.
Tonight, Utah plays Ontario for the first time this year as they visit the sixth out of seven Western Conference arenas that they will play in with Victoria being the only venue that Utah has not gone to this year.
November 27 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/27/2010 11:39 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies and Condors complete their “best-of-seven” early season series tonight. In early lopsided scheduling, Utah plays their seventh of 17 overall games tonight against Bakersfield.
To-date, in the 2-3-3 formatted “series” with the first two games played at Maverik Center October 22 and 23 and the final five played in Bakersfield November 10, 12, 13 and 24 and 26; Utah has gone 4-2, while as far as the Condors are concerned they are 2-3-1-0.
Brad Snetsinger leads all scorers among the two teams with five goals, four assists and a five-game scoring streak entering tonight. Ric Jackman has been dominant on the power-play with four goals, three assists and a three-game scoring streak against the Condors.
Tonight will be Utah’s last game of the season at the Rabobank Arena, where they will have played five times in the last 18 days and spent eight nights next door at the hotel since November 8.
While the first five games between these two teams took at least four goals to win, the Grizzlies have won the last two contests by 3-2 scores. Utah arrived in Bakersfield around 2:30 a.m. this morning after playing last night in Stockton. Meanwhile the Condors, have been off since Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies and complete an eight-game home stand tonight. They haven’t left this town in the last three weeks while, Utah has come and gone three times.
November 26 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/26/2010 10:12 AM - Adam Turner
One thing that has helped make Utah’s 8-4-2-1 record look good this year has been the fact that goaltending has already won them several games.
J.P. Lamoureux stopping 14 of 15 shots in the second period Wednesday and all seven he saw in the third, gave Utah what they needed to earn the two points. Andrew Engelage has also earned three wins this year when stopping 35 shots or more and, like Lamoureux Wednesday, has robbed the opposition of scoring on several occasions.
The Grizzlies also got Brett Parnham going Wednesday as he scored his first two goals since last December. Battling several different injuries, Utah has been looking to get Brett going and healthy for some time after he scored 50 goals in his final year of OHL hockey in 2008-2009 and scored three goals in his first three pro games last year for Utah. Starting his first full week back in action after missing a month, Kevin Colley put Brett on the number one line with Brad Snetsinger and Simon Ferguson.
The Stockton Thunder will provide Utah with one of their biggest tests of the season tonight. The Thunder lead the Western Conference Standings with an 8-3-1-3 record, but have lost two-straight games and scored just one goal during that stretch. However, in Wednesday’s 1-0 home loss to Las Vegas, they outshot the Wranglers 42-13.
Utah, though with a win tonight and an Alaska loss in Elmira, can take the lead in the overall conference standings for themselves.
November 24 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/24/2010 10:37 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies return to Bakersfield where at 2-1, they have won here as much as anywhere early in the season.
Utah is 2-1 in Bakersfield and Boise, 1-0-0-1 in Las Vegas, 1-0-1-0 in Anchorage and 1-2-1-0 in Utah.
Paul Crowder, who is tied for the Utah lead with four multiple-point games, is not on the trip for the Grizzlies; who took a blow to their experienced forwards when Hugo Carpentier was called-up to Abbotsford Thursday and Paul Crowder was hurt Friday.
With four games in five nights and three-games-in-three-nights to wrap up the trip, including the final game being a 5 p.m. California time face-off Sunday, the Grizzlies have returned to full-strength in goaltending at a good time.
Andrew Engelage was very strong here in Bakersfield two weeks ago as he made 36-plus saves in Utah’s two wins. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will see a different goaltender this weekend for Bakersfield in Peter Hirsch as Josh Tordjman will serve games four and five of a six-game suspension as a result of his actions after the game the last time Utah played here on November 13 and won in overtime.
Utah eluded the apparent “Blizzard of the Century” by bussing out of Salt Lake after practice Monday, staying in Las Vegas Monday night and arriving in Bakersfield yesterday afternoon where they held a practice here at the Rabobank Arena.
November 20 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/20/2010 10:28 AM - Adam Turner
So far this year, when the Grizzlies and Alaska have met, all three games have been tied or within a goal in the third period and two of the three games have gone past regulation. The winner of tonight’s game will finish the weekend in sole possession of first place in the Mountain Division.
The Grizzlies will look to keep maybe their most important streak of the year going. Utah has not gone two-straight games this year without a win as they play their 14th game of the season tonight.
7,887 fans last night at Maverik Center moved Utah into third place overall in the league attendance standings with an average of over 6,000 fans a game.
Tonight, Utah is expected to go back to former Alaska goaltender J.P. Lamoureux in what will be his first start since October 23 after an AHL call-up and a stretch that saw Andrew Engelage go to 5-2-1-1. Lamoureux and Engelage make up one of the top goaltending tandems in the ECHL, both with championship experience.
Opposing teams have become weary of Marcus Carroll and Chris Donovan on the penalty-kill, not only are they strong in their own end, but they have generated several shorthanded scoring chances in the last week. The Grizzlies last night had a stretch ended of seven-straight games in which they had equal to or more power-plays than their opposition.
Brent Gauvreau has a team season-high four-game scoring streak entering tonight with four assists. Gauvreau has a gift for just manufacturing goals and his point-a-game habit is definitely well received.
November 19 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/19/2010 8:24 AM - Adam Turner
For the first time in 27 days, the Grizzlies will have a home game tonight as they open a series for first place against the Alaska Aces, who they lead by one point in the Mountain Division standings entering tonight.
The Grizzlies and Aces, with similar overall records, have won in similar fashion this year. They have gotten good goaltending, and haven’t made mistakes, which translates to their almost identical road records. Utah is 6-2-1-1 on the road and the Aces are 4-1. Utah will look to stick to that game plan as they finally come home.
The Grizzlies will look to get things going in early fashion tonight as they did on their road trip. Utah scored the first goal in five of the first eight games on the trip after allowing the first goal in four-straight games to start the year. The Grizzlies have been strong out of the gate defensively as well not allowing a first period goal in three of their last four games.
Averaging 5,140 fans and ranked fifth in the league, the Grizzlies have already guaranteed to increase their average in attendance with tonight’s crowd based on the amount of tickets distributed thus far.
Simon Ferguson is expected to make his home debut tonight over eight months after he made his Grizzlies debut. Ferguson joined Utah on a lengthy road trip in March last season, but was loaned to Hershey before he could ever make his home debut.
Nick Tuzzolino, who was acquired from Wheeling as Utah embarked on their road trip has been an even or better in his first seven games with Utah and is a plus-four over that span while also adding two big goals for Utah as well. Tuzzolino spent the previous two years in Anchorage.
November 13 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/13/2010 11:10 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies wrap up their season-long eight-game road trip tonight with a morning of some quick video clips from last night.
Utah outshot the Condors 35-27 and had what Kevin Colley called three mental mistakes that led to the Bakersfield goals. Five-on-five, the action has been controlled by Utah, but the Condors wanted to run and gun and got ahead of Utah on a few occasions that all led to goals.
Riley Armstrong’s two games in Utah have landed him a lucrative spot in Europe. Armstrong left California this morning to join his new team. Kevin Colley probably didn’t expect to have the veteran of 401 combined AHL and NHL games long, but had the opportunity to add him for the time being and he definitely contributed with two assists in two games.
Rookie Kevin Deeth will be back in the lineup tonight for Utah who departs on the bus for Salt Lake immediately following the game. It’s a Utah team that will again look to avoid their first losing streak of the year. Utah has bounced back with a “W” after their previous two losses.
Pascal Morency, who during the first intermission with Utah up 2-0, said “we’re not going to quit, we’re going to battle all the way and we’re going to win,” scored two Bakersfield goals in the second before being injured on a clean hit from Chris Donovan. He is expected to miss tonight and be out for a week according to this morning’s newspaper.
November 12 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/12/2010 10:41 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies had a strong practice yesterday here in Bakersfield on the heels of their 4-2 win. The coaches were pleased with how solid the group came out the morning after a good performance.
Meanwhile Bakersfield, was brought back onto the ice after the game Wednesday because Head Coach Marty Raymond said they didn’t work hard enough in the game. It is the second time in the last six seasons that I have seen this happen. I believe Rick Adduono did it in Long Beach after his team collapsed against Utah in February of 2007.
The Grizzlies on Wednesday wanted to come out strong and establish things, but what made them successful was the ability to shake off Bakersfield’s energy that they started the first and second period with. Once, things settled down, Utah stayed steady and pulled away.
Going up against a Condors team that has now been outscored 19-4 in their last four games, Utah wants to again just come out and not allow Bakersfield to get any confidence on unforced errors by Utah. They want the Condors to have to break out of this slump on their own and not help them in any way.
On the other end, with the exception of the power-play which went 0-7, the Grizzlies probably put together their best game of the year thus far Wednesday night. They played the system and limited mistakes. Though after the 4-2 win, I think Kevin Colley got an instant headache when handed a box score and saw that glaring 0-7.
As far as the team gelling, the puck movement Wednesday was the best I have seen in six seasons in the ECHL. While everything didn’t connect perfectly, the guys were seeing the ice great and the unselfishness was bordering on excessive. It shows that the players have the confidence in their teammates to make them look good and finish a play with a better angle.
November 10 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/10/2010 8:39 AM - Adam Turner
For the third-straight week and technically the fourth-straight week, the Grizzlies open a series against a team that is looking to get back on track.
Idaho was winless in three-straight two weeks ago before Utah arrived in Boise and took two-straight one-goal games from them to start the series and run their winless skid to five. Las Vegas had lost three of four as they played games five and six of a nine-game home stand against Utah last weekend. And now the Bakersfield Condors are winless in five-straight games and losers of four of five in regulation as they open a weekend home stand against the Utah Grizzlies.
You are always a little nervous opening a series on the road against a team that has been struggling as of late, especially when you know you are going up against a quality team. In the Condors case, they have got to be especially cranky after being shutout twice and outscored 15-2 in three games Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Stockton last weekend.
Bakersfield though has improved their defense, by somehow acquiring top defenseman Brendan Milnamow from conference foe Idaho yesterday for the infamous “future considerations.” Kevin Colley certainly had to be scratching his head as he read the league transactions yesterday and saw that little piece of wheeling and dealing.
But while the Grizzlies are going up against another struggling team, they have been able to start road series well this year at 2-0-1-0 in game one. At 3-1-0-1 on this season-long trip, with three games left, the end is certainly in sight for Utah who will return home after the game Saturday in a rare early season case where their next game will be at home.
The Grizzlies arrived in Bakersfield early Monday afternoon from Las Vegas and practiced at the Rabobank Arena Monday and Tuesday. The transaction wire has been quiet for the first time all year before starting a week of action and the 5-2-1-1 Grizzlies look to get into a bit of a groove with the same group.
Hugo Carpentier sat out Saturday’s game, as the Grizzlies had a few extra bodies, to get 100-percent for the Bakersfield series and we’ll see if a grittier Condors team means the return of Riley Emmerson, who was a healthy scratch in Las Vegas against a team with more peanut butter than jam.
November 6 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/06/2010 9:28 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies are finding ways to get wins early on in the season by edging out the close games. The Grizzlies have won three-straight games by a single goal.
Utah is currently 3-0-1-0 in one-goal games and have collected five of six points in games that have gone past regulation. In their last four wins, the Grizzlies have been tied in the third period and found away to win. Though, in three of those third periods they have also squandered a lead. So while Kevin Colley obviously concedes he’s not 100-percent satisfied, he’s 100-percent happy to be collecting wins.
Brad Snetsinger who already leads Utah with nine points in eight games seems on the verge of breaking out more. He collected seven shots last night and drew the penalty that led to the game-winning goal. I also think the line combination of him, Brent Gauvreau and Tyler Ruegsegger is going to definitely get Utah some consistent scoring that could come in bunches.
In Hugo Carpentier’s return to Las Vegas, where he enjoyed playing during the 2008-2009 season, he had another solid game for Utah adding two assists and is tied for second on the team in scoring with three goals and four assists. Hugo has made some things happen with hardworking shifts early on and like the Snetsinger line worked well last night with Tim and Paul Crowder.
Excited to get back to work last night, Matt Clarke totaled a plus-one and four shots on goal in his season debut after a couple of injury issues. The Grizzlies as a whole were putting the puck on net last night as six skaters had at least three shots on goal.
On the other end, the Grizzlies have allowed three goals or less in five of their six road games as last night Andrew Engelage improved his save percentage to .930, his goals-against-average to 2.44 and his record to 3-1 at one point stopping 23-straight shots.
November 5 Blog Entry: Game Day
11/05/2010 9:32 AM - Adam Turner
Matt Clarke will make his season debut tonight in Las Vegas after suffering an injury in training camp with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. It’s had to be a little frustrating for Matt who was also unable to participate in Calgary Flames prospect camp in September with another issue. Brent Gauvreau will also return to action tonight in Las Vegas.
Ironically, right as Matt Clarke is ready to go, Kevin Colley got a call in Las Vegas last night right as he finished dinner that the Peoria Rivermen would like Jake Gannon who caught an early morning flight to join the Blues affiliate in Milwaukee.
Tonight marks the longest this year that the Grizzlies will spend on the road, as today is day 2 of 10-straight away from Utah. The Grizzlies will go to Bakersfield from Las Vegas for next week’s action.
A 4-3 shootout win last week in Idaho to start the road trip was a nice start for Utah, who last year was 4-7-0-1 on the first game of a series on the road and 16-33-5 all-time since joining the ECHL in the first game of a road series. It’s just much easier to build on momentum when you actually have it and this year Utah is 1-0-1-0 in the first game of a series on the road. Utah played well last year early in Las Vegas winning their first three games played here.
If you haven’t been watching the ECHL transaction wire, the Grizzlies were pretty busy this week as they released Mason Graddock and Chad Denny.
Las Vegas is looking for some offense tonight after having not played since last Friday. The Wranglers, who scored four goals in their season opener October 16, have scored four goals in three games since then and have gone three-for-32 on the power-play.