Utah Grizzlies: season begins Friday, home opener Saturday

The Grizzlies open their season on Friday at Colorado, and then they have their home opener on Saturday against Colorado. Both games start at 7 p.m.

The Grizzlies celebrate the 20th anniversary of Maverik Center as they begin their fifth season under head coach and General Manager Tim Branham and their fifth season with the Anaheim Ducks. They’re also looking for their 11th-straight playoff appearance.

Branham, 36, carries a record of 150-107-30 into his fourth season with Utah. He needs 29 wins to surpass Butch Goring as the winningest head coach in team history. The former Vancouver Canucks draft pick lives year-round in the Salt Lake Valley and is a regular at local hockey rinks across Utah as a visiting coach/instructor.

The Grizzlies look to build on a 6-2-1-0 record in their last nine season openers. They are 3-1 under Branham during season openers.

Utah opens the season with three games in four nights and six games in the first nine nights of the season with three at home and three on the road.

The Grizzlies bring 10 players back to Utah, including captain C.J. Eick, team MVP Michael Pelech who begins his fourth season in Utah, Jon Puskar who scored 22 goals last year and penalty minutes leader Travis Howe.

In addition, Utah has added three forwards who averaged more than a point per game last season throughout the ECHL in Greger Hanson (35 goals, 41 assists, 76 points, 58 games with Allen), Peter Sivak (35 goals, 30 assists, 65 points, 53 games with Alaska) and Kyle Thomas (27 goals, 42 assists, 69 points, 58 games).

Utah returns four defensemen from last year while adding Mitch Jones from Alaska, rookie Cliff Watson who was captain at Michigan Tech the past two seasons and James Melindy who enters his fifth professional season and was just assigned by …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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