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Summer Blog

Summer Blog Entry: September 1, 2017

09/01/2017 12:03 PM - Adrian Denny

Head Coach Tim Branham has compared this year's team to the 2015-16 group that's got off to a quick start and was on the border of being in the top 5 in the ECHL in scoring.

The Grizzlies have signed three rookie forwards out of college that will be announced in coming weeks. Two were high scoring forwards on the same successful division one team. 

It’s still early, as far as what Utah will receive from Anaheim this season, but the Ducks are looking really deep across the board entering training camps.

We talked about building on team culture last week for 2017-2018. Culture was a huge factor in last year’s team. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to former Assistant Coach Jeff Carr, who is now the Head Coach of Knoxville in the SPHL, about how I wake up every morning wondering just how last year’s team found a way to get into the playoffs. The odds were so stacked against them: with some shaky goaltending early, then injuries came, the team made some big additions and got going; before half of the defensemen got hurt in Alaska in February. Then the Grizzlies got swept in two of three series at home in February and March. It looked bleak, but Head Coach Tim Branham, kept adding pieces and the Grizzlies eventually got over the hump after over 50 games on the outside looking in. It was a well assembled team, but sometimes in professional sports, you just have a year with so much adversity that there’s just no way to overcome it. Carr told me: “We willed that group into the playoffs as a staff. There was no way we weren’t making the playoffs, it wasn’t an option and that attitude resonated into our locker room with our players. They found a way.” 

As we’ve come to Labor Day weekend, this will be the final Summer Blog of the offseason. I’ll be back every game day in 2017-2018 with the latest.




Summer Blog Entry: August 25, 2017

08/25/2017 2:21 PM - Adrian Denny

Tim Branham, who named C.J. Eick captain on Thursday, had a lot of flexibility coming into this offseason because he knew his core of character players would be back. When the culture is already established, it’s much easier to just go out and acquire talent without a concern of how different personalities are going to mesh together. We could list the entire roster of returnees and point out something they do that is important to the Grizzlies culture before anyone goes on the ice. With your leaders, you need them to be the same person every day: off the ice, on the ice, pregame and postgame regardless of whether it’s sunny, snowy, October, February, after a win or after a loss. That sets the example and path for the rest of the group to easily follow.

We still have another returnee to announce, though it won’t be a surprise, as he’s lived in Utah all summer and been active in the community. He also fits the mold from paragraph one.

Last week, the Grizzlies acquired the ECHL rights to forward Kyle Thomas. This week it was announced that he has signed an AHL contract with the Anaheim organization. The Grizzlies acquired the rights, so in the event that Thomas plays in the ECHL, it will be with Utah. Fort Wayne appreciating this, agreed to trade Thomas to Utah for an equal player in return and they received Ralph Cuddemi.

Make plans to join the Grizzlies and our Official Country Station Z-104 on September 16 for the 4.2 mile Far 2 Kay run/walk from Farmington to Kaysville. All proceeds will go to Camp Kostopulos and Giving Grinch. Get more information here
2005-2006 Utah Assistant Coach Chuck Weber was named Head Coach of the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators earlier this week. Since leaving Utah, he has coached in Cincinnati, Rochester, San Antonio and at two stops overseas.

Summer Blog Entry: August 18, 2017

08/18/2017 3:48 PM - Adrian Denny

The Grizzlies added rights to offensive weapon Kyle Thomas (27 goals, 42 assists, 69 points, 59 games with Fort Wayne) this week along with the versatile Ryan Misiak who finished as Rapid City’s third leading scorer last season. Misiak can play both forward and defense and has proven to be effective in every situation on the ice as well; which is such an asset in the ECHL. He played in 71 of 72 games for the Rush last year. 

Thomas played Division III hockey at Norwich University, where there are no athletic scholarships and then bounced around for a bit; including the SPHL, for his first two seasons before landing in Fort Wayne and instantly becoming a major impact player.

I think folks have been impressed with the talent accumulated by Tim Branham this summer. There’s a lot of popular returners, some familiar newcomers with impressive numbers and former players the team is excited to welcome back. Tim is doing so with very specific analytics and also building on momentum from what has become one of the elite organizations in the ECHL both on and off the ice. There will be a lot more exciting news coming as we lead into Opening Night October 13 in Colorado. 

Next week, we’ll announce another returnee or two and also have some rookies to announce in the coming weeks as well.
It’s been kind of a fluid summer of affiliations, so let’s reset, especially with some new team’s on the schedule.

Looking at the schedule, the Grizzlies will see the ECHL affiliates of the: Colorado Avalanche (Colorado), Nashville Predators (Norfolk), Dallas Stars (Idaho), New York Islanders (Worcester), San Jose Sharks (Allen), St Louis Blues (Tulsa), Edmonton Oilers (Wichita), Los Angeles Kings (Manchester), Minnesota Wild (Rapid City), Vegas Golden Knights (Quad City), Chicago Blackhawks (Indy) and Calgary Flames (Kansas City).

Summer Blog Entry: August 11, 2017

08/11/2017 3:36 PM - Adrian Denny

Sunday will mark two months from the regular season opener and Monday will mark two months from the home opener on Saturday, October 14.

Tickets for all single games went on sale this week and are available for purchase. 

Big week of signings with the addition of familiar scorer Peter Sivak, who has played 30 games against Utah and 16-17 Team MVP Michael Pelech who returns for his fourth season in Utah.
Let’s see if we can announce a player next week who the Grizzlies have just reacquired in a trade.

As this year’s version of the roster begins to be assembled and reshuffled, the Grizzlies have some assets to move. The first of which was sending Austin Brassard to Toledo for future considerations. I’d expect Brassard will have plenty of AHL interest there for call-ups midseason. He was with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego for nearly three months last season after three full AHL seasons with the Winnipeg organization.

Utah currently has 17 players officially signed, which leaves us seven to announce. Six are forwards.

The Grizzlies locker room opened for 2017-2018 season business with the arrival of new Equipment Manager Chris Schornack


Summer Blog Entry: July 28, 2017

07/28/2017 10:49 AM - Adrian Denny

Generally an ECHL team returns 6-8 players from the previous year. I would say without question that this Utah roster for 2017-2018 will have more players from last year or previous years than we have seen in quite some time and maybe ever. Up to 13 players will be familiar names.

Utah is entering their fifth-straight season as an affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks; which will be the longest consecutive relationship that they’ve had with an NHL team ever. They previously were with Dallas four-straight seasons from 2000-2004. Utah had three-straight years with the New York Islanders from 1994-97, and 2007-10.

The Grizzlies and other ECHL teams will be wrapping up the finalization of preseason games in the next few weeks with announcements to follow. There are some options being discussed that would potentially give the preseason game schedule a different look than previous seasons. 

Our new Equipment Manager will arrive in Salt Lake late next week with an announcement to follow later. Former Grizzlies Equipment Manager Jon Laughner was named the Equipment Manager for Arizona State University’s hockey team last week. He’s the second former staff member in three years to be hired at a major college hockey program. Former Director of Hockey Operations/Video Coordinator Ian Greenwald enters his third year in the same position at Union College; who barely missed out on a trip to the Frozen Four last season.

Next week is vacation, Summer Blog will return Friday, August 11.

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