9 reasons the Utah Grizzlies will make a deep run in the Kelly Cup playoffs

By David Winkworth

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 17 2014 9:11 a.m. MDT

Utah's Jamie MacQueen celebrates his first goal of the first period past Idaho's goalie Pat Nagle at Utah Grizzlies hockey season opener against the Idaho Steelheads at the Maverik Center Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, in West Valley City.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies gained home-ice advantage this past weekend after splitting the two-game series against the Idaho Steelheads.

Now the fun begins.

The Grizzlies hit the ice Friday and Saturday night at the Maverik Center with the Bakersfield Condors in the quarterfinals of the ECHL playoffs.

Here are nine reasons that fans should come out and support the home team in the Grizzlies' quest for the Kelly Cup.

  1. Getting on the board first: When the Grizzlies scored first they went 24-7-1-1 this year. They always come out firing. They nearly outshot every team at home this year.
  2. Playoffs in Utah in April: The Grizzlies are the only team from Utah who are playoff-bound after a tremendous season 38-24-3-6. They are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
  3. Records are meant to be broken: It has been an historic season for the Utah Grizzlies. They have broken many records, including fewest home losses since the 1999 season, longest winning streak at home and most wins in a season since 2002-03.
  4. Home-ice advantage: The Grizzlies only lost seven games at home this season in regulation fewest in the ECHL, and Grizzlies fans have been a part of two of the top six crowds in the ECHL this season.
  5. Goaltending: Igor Bobkov and Aaron Dell have been playing stellar hockey in between the pipes with a combined 36 wins.
  6. Anaheim Ducks prospects: The Grizzlies' NHL affiliate is the Anaheim Ducks and a few of Utah's prospects, including Charles Sarault, Andrew O’Brien, Brendan Jamison, have all been a key part to the Grizzlies success and they will continue their hard play in the playoffs
  7. Stability: While in the ECHL rosters always shift back and forth from start to finish, the Grizzlies could have as many 17 players from the opening-day roster on the playoff roster.
  8. Defense: The Grizzlies' defense has been very important this season. They finished fifth in the ECHL with a 85.6-percent on the penalty kill.
  9. Playoff experience on the roster: Leading scorer David Vallorani and Danick Paquette were with head coach Tim Branham on the Kelly Cup Championship team with the Reading Royals last year. Aaron Dell, Adam Pineault and Drew Daniels were all a part of the 2013 CHL Championship. Mathieu Aubin, who suffered an injury and will hopefully return soon, also has three professional championships.

Follow David Winkworth on Twitter @RealDavidVito and listen to his podcast at sportsathomeradio.com for news and notes inside and out of the state of Utah in the world of sports.

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