WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies had a stunning turnaround season, which came to just as stunning an end last week against the Bakersfield Condors in the first round of the playoffs.
“I thought the boys played hard; the series could have gone either way," head coach Tim Branham said. "You learn a lot, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about lucky bounces or whatnot."
It was Branham’s first season at the helm for the Utah Grizzlies, after winning a championship as an assistant coach with the Reading Royals last season. This season Branham and the Grizzlies finished third in the Western Conference with a record of 38-24-3-6 and the second-best home record in the league.
The last time the Grizzlies were at the Maverik Center, they skated off the ice with a victory.
“You always want to win in front of your fans,” Branham said. “Winning is exciting for the fans, and anytime you can share that bond and connection with the fans it makes them want to keep coming back. It was a really neat environment to be a part of. Anytime you can win in front of your fans and give them something to cheer about is a good thing.”
It was July of last year when the Grizzlies hired Branham and announced their affiliation with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks. This season Branham and the Grizzlies were a part of many big events at the Maverik Center, but one event stood out to the coach.
“My favorite night was military appreciation night with all the things that went on, with the jerseys, fans and military personnel. It was overall a really good memory I will always remember.”
Branham had high expectations heading into this season, and nearly all of his goals were met, he said.
“I wanted to win a championship; however, it was a very successful season," he said. "I wanted a good regular season, play good at home, home ice advantage, and to make sure this team connected with our city, and our players connect with our fan base.”
What does Branham have in store for this upcoming offseason?
“The season is long, and my first (intention) is to be with my family — family is important to me. For the team it is to build a ... core group of guys to come back for another successful season.
“I think what we started here is what you want to do," he said. "I will continue to bring in high-character guys. My teams are going to be fast-pace and exciting and the guys will give it their all every night."
Follow David Winkworth on Twitter @RealDavidVito and listen to his podcast at sportsathomeradio.com for news and notes inside and outside the state the state of Utah in the world of sports.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company