Summer Blog Entry: July 31
07/31/2015 2:48 PM - Adam Turner
Last week, we talked about old/new rivalries that rekindle familiar opponents and cities from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to the Grizzlies current schedule. This week, I’ll breakdown the three rivalries that carryover into this season from recent seasons.
Idaho - Brad Ralph, like Utah’s Tim Branham, is an up and coming hot coaching prospect and wins every season. His teams are similar to Utah’s in work ethic, swagger and skill. It doesn’t take long for things to get feisty on the ice between the Grizzlies and Steelheads and the games are always close.
Colorado - The Eagles also have a winning program that starts in their home arena and culminated when the organization began in 2003-2004. Their organizational expectation is to win and the players understand that. It’s very similar to the Utah/Idaho matchup. Colorado is another team that can change out a roster and still look the same on the ice because of culture and coaching.
Alaska -The Aces missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 ECHL seasons last year. They had talent and a very good head coach in Rob Murray, but the four playoff teams in the Pacific Division were just better. A second-straight playoff-less season in Anchorage will not go over well, so again watch out for the pesky Aces.
The Grizzlies will announce their first three signings of the offseason Tuesday at Maverik Center at 6:30 p.m. Anyone who is a 2015-2016 season ticket holder is welcome to attend. Ticket packages for 2015-2016 are on sale now starting at $30. Call (801) 988-8000 to purchase your ticket package and attend the press conference for ticket package holders only. All three players and Coach Branham will be in attendance for a question and answer session after.
Nearly a dozen other players are also under contract and will be announced for 2015-2016 in the days and weeks following the press conference.
While the Grizzlies will no longer be playing the Ontario Reign in California this season, they will still see a familiar face, style and rivalry six times; just in a different uniform. Ontario Reign Head Coach Jason Christie was named the Head Coach of the Tulsa Oilers last week and Friday announced that he was taking his Winnipeg affiliation with him to Oklahoma. Christie, whose teams usually win their division, play hard and agitate; coached the Reign from 2011-2015 and Utah from 2005-2008.
Summer Blog Entry: July 24
07/23/2015 2:01 PM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies schedule this year adds new teams, but it’s really a trip back in Utah hockey history to almost identical opponents of the early 1980s and beyond.
The Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1983-84 played in the Central Hockey League with the Colorado Flames, Tulsa Oilers and Indianapolis Checkers along with the Montana Magic. Utah of course will play Colorado, Tulsa and Indy this year. Montana unfortunately hasn’t been involved in pro hockey since that 1983-84 season.
Going back over the Central Hockey League teams even earlier, Salt Lake played the Wichita Wind for several years ending in 1982-83. The Wichita Thunder come to Utah for games January 15, 16 and 18.
As Utah prepares to play the Allen Americans in the NE Dallas Suburbs, it will return the Utah organization to the Metroplex where they played the Dallas Black Hawks and Fort Worth Texans up until 1981-82.
Enter 1984-85, the Golden Eagles moved to the IHL and played Toledo, Kalamazoo and Indianapolis. They will go to Toledo, Kalamazoo and as mentioned earlier Indianapolis this year.
Back in modern day, the Grizzlies will play regularly against Idaho and Alaska for the 11th-straight year while playing Rapid City for the first time in Utah hockey history. It does however get Utah back in that same Montana Magic region though.
Oh and don’t forget, the Grizzlies will be playing the Gwinnett Gladiators out of suburban Atlanta for the second time in four years February 17,19 and 20 which will parallel their meetings against the Atlanta Knights, who played the Golden Eagles and Grizzlies in the IHL from 1992-1996.
Summer Blog Entry: July 17
07/17/2015 10:27 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies have 12 players officially signed for 2015-2016, nine of which are from last year’s team and one more player who has played for the team in multiple seasons before. Again, the team will start announcing player signings the first week in August at a to-be-announced event.
Utah, so far, looks like an extremely skilled team on both the front and back ends. As Tim Branham pointed out last summer, recruiting players here, is more of a process of deciding what players he wants. Top players want to play for the Grizzlies, and his phone rings off of the hook. From that point, it is a matter of collecting character references and deciding who is the best fit for Utah. It is more that for Tim during the summer than getting into a recruiting war with other teams for specific players and trying to sell Utah to them.
In addition, Anaheim, is looking extremely deep so far in terms of talent at all contract levels of their organization as the Grizzlies enter their third season as a Ducks affiliate.
As was the case during the four seasons that the Grizzlies were affiliated with Calgary and their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, they once again have one of the most convenient AHL affiliates with Anaheim’s now located in San Diego and a two hour flight from Salt Lake City.
Summer Blog Entry: July 10
07/10/2015 9:57 AM - Adam Turner
At the ECHL Board of Governor’s Meetings in Las Vegas last month, the league voted to play five minute overtimes in a three-on-three setting. If no one scores in the overtime, it will then proceed to a three round shootout. The ECHL had previously been doing five round shootouts, but the NHL does three round shootouts.
As of Wednesday, the Grizzlies had eight players under contract for 2015-2016 and another stack of contracts that are on their way to the league office to be made official. Grizzlies player announcements are scheduled to start the first week of August.
Anaheim signed goaltender Ryan Faragher to an AHL deal with San Diego earlier this week. Faragher went 10-8-1 with Utah last year with a .908 save percentage and a 2.72 goals-against-average. He had one shutout, a 2.57 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage in the AHL.
One former Grizzlies player has signed with an NHL team since free agency started on July 1 with goaltender Dan Ellis going from Florida to Washington.
Other former Grizzlies who are still free agents: Adam Morrison, Michael Ferland, Keith Ballard, Aaron Dell, Trevor Smith and John Erskine.