If you've been curious as to whom Utah's starting goalie will be when the IHL playoffs begin, you've got company.

The Grizzlies are all wondering, too.Even Utah coach Butch Goring said he isn't quite sure who he's going to put between the pipes when the Grizz's first-round series starts against Kansas City Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the E Center.

Goring expects to make a decision on gameday (or at least that's when he'll tell everyone else) between Jamie Ram and Mark McArthur. Problem is, as Goring puts it, "neither one has taken the bull by the horns" recently.

"That's not to say they haven't played good, that's just to say they haven't jumped to the forefront," he said. "I don't think anyone would argue that."

Ram, in particular, has struggled lately. The 27-year-old ended the season on a three-game losing skid, during which he gave up 5.26 goals a contest. He was pulled out of his last game at the E Center, when he gave up five goals in two periods in a 5-3 loss to Orlando. He also lost both games this weekend, though neither was really meaningful.

Despite that, Ram, who is older and a bit more experienced, might have the inside track on the starting position. He showed signs of promise when he came to Utah after being assigned from the San Jose Sharks last month. Ram won his first three games, allowing just two goals in each victory.

"If I get the chance I'll just play well," he said after practice Monday. "That's what you play for is playoff time. This is the fun time of the year. . . . I think our guys know that I can do the job."

Though he missed 37 games due to knee surgery, the 22-year-old McArthur has also shown he has the potential to be the hot goalie the Grizz need to make another championship run. Then again, he's also had some rough spells. He is 7-7-2 with a 3.40 goals-against average in 20 starts.

After sitting on the bench the past two postseasons behind Tommy Salo and Don Beaupre, McArthur claims he's happy simply knowing

that he even has a shot at the starting job. Beating Long Beach 2-1 a week-and-a-half ago and allowing 2.14 goals in his last two starts certainly hasn't hurt his cause.

"I have a chance," he smiled. "But whether you start or not, you need to be ready, whether it's the first game of the playoffs or the 15th. You have to be mentally ready."

Goring said he isn't too concerned about how either of them have played lately. He's just hoping one of them catches fire like Salo did two years ago when his outstanding MVP performance in goal carried the Grizzlies to the Turner Cup championship.

"The only wish I have is that one of them gets hot. It doesn't matter how good you are, it's how hot you get in the playoffs," Goring said. "You can have a (not-so-good) goalie and if he plays hot in the playoffs that's all you need. I think it's the key to every team's success pretty much."

A wildcard could be thrown into the mix if Philippe DeRouville gets sent back to the Grizzlies from Hartford (of the AHL), where he is currently just a backup. Goring is expecting his arrival any day.

DeRouville could - and based on his IHL stats should - get the nod when he arrives. DeRouville logged more minutes in goal (1524:36) than any of the other six netminders who played for the Grizz this season. Aside from Wade Flaherty, who is now playing for the Islanders, DeRouville has the best numbers, too. In 30 games, he was 18-9-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average.

Center Chris Taylor, who is an assistant team captain, said the Grizzlies will feel comfortable with any of the goalies.

"I don't even know who's going to be starting on Wednesday," Taylor said. "I think that's a great challenge for the three of them, to see who wants to be our No. 1 goalie."

McArthur and Ram both said they will be supportive of the starter sweepstakes.

"Butch hasn't decided anything, and to be honest I'm not worried about it," said Ram. "The playoffs are a long run. I want to start them, but I don't know what will happen."

"I'm not the coach," added McArthur. "I'll do my best whether in practice or in the game. I don't make the decision. It's the industry; you're a piece of meat."

A hot piece of meat, preferably.

*****

Additional Information

IHL playoffs

BLADES VS. GRIZZLIES

First round

(Best-of-five)

Game 1 - Wednesday

K.C. at Utah, 7 p.m.

Game 2 - Monday

K.C. at Utah, 7 p.m.

Game 3 - Friday, April 24

Utah at K.C., 6:30 p.m.

*Game 4 - Saturday, April 25

Utah at K.C., 6:30 p.m.

*Game 5 - Monday, April 27

K.C. at Utah, 7 p.m.

*-if necessary

Grizzlies goalie stats

Jamie Ram #31

5-11, 185, catches left

Games played: 7

Minutes: 398:43

Record: 3-4-0

Goals-against: 3.61

Save pct.: 0.870

Shots: 184

Saves: 160

Mark McArthur #1

5-11, 180, catches left

Games played: 20

Minutes: 1059:59

Record: 7-7-2

Goals-against: 3.40

Save pct.: 0.880

Shots: 500

Saves: 440