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Utah Grizzlies: two of ECHL’s hottest teams collide at Maverik Center

By Adrian Denny

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 23 2014 1:22 p.m. MST

The Grizzlies enter a two-game series with Bakersfield, neck and neck with the Condors in the standings. The teams face off Friday and Saturday with 7 p.m. start times.

Both teams are playing great hockey with Utah 8-2-2-2 in its last 14 and Bakersfield at 7-2-1-1 since Christmas. Utah currently leads the Condors by two points in the standings and by .001 of a percentage point.

This weekend at Maverik Center features two of the hottest teams in the ECHL since Christmas with Utah ranking second with eight wins and Bakersfield third, winning seven games. Utah and Bakersfield are first and second in wins in the Western Conference since Christmas.

The five total goaltenders on the two rosters this weekend have all been in the AHL this season. Laurent Brossoit of Bakersfield won goaltender of the week this past week, while Utah’s Aaron Dell finished as the runner-up.

Utah is 5-0-1-2 in its last eight games at Maverik Center going back to Dec. 28. That is its longest unbeaten streak since it went 8-0-1-0 in nine-straight home games Feb. 20-March 27, 2010.

West Valley City's D.J. Jelitto has a six-game scoring streak with four goals and three assists in his last six games. He has six goals and seven assists for 13 points and a plus-12 during this stretch. He is third in the ECHL in scoring during this stretch and leads the league in plus-minus.

Martin Lee ranks second behind Jelitto with a plus-10 in January. He leads ECHL defensemen with 12 points in 11 games in that stretch, is seventh overall in scoring and also is tied for the active lead among ECHL defensemen with 19 assists.

Grizzlies goaltenders Dell, Igor Bobkov and Cody Reichard have combined records of 13-7-3-4 overall with the Grizzlies this year.

Forward Vincent Scarsella has four goals and three assists, and four of his eight goals this season in the last six games.

Michael Pelech has assisted on Utah’s first two goals in the last two games. He has led Utah in scoring over the last month with four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 15 games since Dec. 21.

David Vallorani now leads Utah with 15 goals, having scored four goals in the last five games. He has 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points, playing in 36 of 38 Grizzlies games, which is second behind Brent Gwidt who has played in 37 of 38 games.

Jamie MacQueen with 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points in 18 games and AHL contracted defenseman Teigan Zahn have returned from the AHL and will be with the Grizzlies this weekend for this series.

Along with MacQueen and Zahn, the Grizzlies have also been without scoring forward Mathieu Aubin (injured) and assistant captain and top defenseman Channing Boe (injured) over the last few weeks.