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Utah Grizzlies: Grizzlies open 2013-14 season Friday

By Adrian Denny

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16 2013 3:47 p.m. MDT

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

Friday marks the third–straight year and the fourth time in the last six years that Utah and Idaho have opened the season against each other. The road team has dominated the season openers. Utah is 2-0 on the road in those games and Idaho is 1-0 in Utah.

Preseason

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 it 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.

Good starts

The Grizzlies are 21-8-1-0 over the last five seasons in October. Only Alaska with 23 wins in October since 2008, has won more in the ECHL.

Goaltending

The Grizzlies 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.

Champions

Aaron Dell and Adam Pineault with Allen of the CHL, and David Vallorani and Danick Paquette with Reading of the ECHL all won league championships last year with their respective hockey clubs.

Head coach

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, 32-year-old Tim Branham is set to make his debut as the Grizzlies head coach and general manager starting with the 2013-2014 season.

Past experience

While in Reading, Branham’s responsibilities included overseeing the defensemen and penalty-kill. In 2012-2013, the Royals ranked second in the ECHL allowing just 28.89 shots per game. Reading also was among the league’s elite in goals allowed, placing third and allowing just 2.57 goals per game. Their penalty-kill also ranked third in the league at an 84.9 percent clip. During their completed championship run, Reading led the ECHL by allowing just 2.05 goals per game in the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Tickets

Individual tickets are on sale now by visiting Utah Grizzlies' website, Maverik Center box office or any Ticketmaster location. Season ticket packages start at just $30 for three games. For more information, visit Utah's website or call (801) 988-8800.