Grizzlies prepare for 2013 ECHL season

Oct 17 2013 - 11:17pm


AP file photo
Utah Grizzlies players Jordan Clendenning (left) and Evan Stoflet (42) sandwich Ontario Reign forward Brady Call during ECHL playoff action on April 6.
AP file photo
Utah Grizzlies players Jordan Clendenning (left) and Evan Stoflet (42) sandwich Ontario Reign forward Brady Call during ECHL playoff action on April 6.

WEST VALLEY CITY -- Quick, which Utah pro sports franchise has the longest current stretch of playoff appearances?

The Utah Grizzlies, who open their ECHL season tonight against Idaho at the Maverik Center, own a stretch of six straight playoff appearances, a team-high as well as the best in Utah.

The Grizzlies open their ninth season in the ECHL, their 17th in the Maverik Center, their 19th in Utah and their 20th overall Friday at 7 p.m.

It's the third-straight year and the fourth time in the last six years that Utah and Idaho have opened the season against each other.

Utah plays at Las Vegas on Saturday night.

With a 1-0-1 preseason, the Grizzlies matched their best ECHL preseason; as they also went 1-0-1 in 2011. Utah lost a wild 6-5 game in overtime Friday in Logan, as they allowed three power-play goals, before settling down and going 7-7 on the penalty-kill in a 2-0 win over the Steelheads in Saturday's rematch.

New coach Tim Branham will open the season with three goaltenders as Igor Bobkov, Aaron Dell and Ben Meisner hold career combined records of 40-30-10 and five shutouts entering the season.

After being part of a 163-99-26 record as an assistant coach with the ECHL's Reading Royals from 2009-2012 where the team won the 2013 Kelly Cup, seven playoff series and two division championships, the 32-year-old Branham is set to make his debut as the Grizzlies coach/general manager.

Grizzlies attendance last year at 4,622 fans-per-game was the team's highest since joining the ECHL in 2005 and almost a 5-percent increase over last year.

Over the last 5 seasons, Grizzlies attendance has risen nearly 27-percent.

Last April, the Grizzlies fell to Ontario 4-1 in their best-of-7 series with Ontario. The Reign won the last two games of the season in overtime.

The Grizzlies again got a spectacular performance from Shane Owen in goal as he stopped the first 41 shots that he saw and a season-high of 43 of 45 in the game as the Grizzlies suffered through their second heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss in as many nights.

"Shane Owen is our MVP, he really gave us a chance to win every time he was between the pipes there," said then Grizzlies coach Kevin Colley. "It's tough when you start on the road and it's a quick turnaround and then come home and lose in overtime two times in a row and it's just tough right now. It wasn't meant to be. We did our best to bring in guys late to create a new culture and we did a good job of that, we just ran up against a hell of a hockey club."

The 2013-14 roster includes:

Goaltenders--Igor Bobkov; Aaron Dell; Ben Meisner.

Forwards--T.J. Battani; Norm Ezekiel; Brent Gwidt; Kris Hogg; Jamie MacQueen; Kenton Miller; Brance Orban; Danick Paquette; Adam Pineault; Vincent Scarsella; Berkley Scott; David Valloran.

Defensemen--Channing Boe; Mike Folkes; Tyler Hinds; Brendan Jamison; Martin Lee; Derick Martin; Teigan Zahn.


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