WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies open up their 2011-12 campaign tonight against the Idaho Steelheads at the Maverick Center. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m and game can be heard on 1230 KFAN-2.
To help wipe off the cobwebs, here's a season primer.
Opening Night: The Grizzlies are 2-0-1-0 on opening nights under coach Kevin Colley. The team is opening the season at home for the first time since 2005.
Home Early: Unlike last year, when the Grizzlies opened the season playing 14 of the first 18 games on the road, Utah opens the season with five of its first seven games at home and 13 of 18 games overall at Maverik Center.
Closest Regional Rivals: Over the last six seasons, Utah and Idaho have squared off 64 times in the regular season, seven times in the preseason and in one series in the playoffs. Maverik Center and CenturyLink Arena are 344 miles apart. After this weekend, Utah won't see Idaho until Dec. 19.
Preseason recap: Utah went 1-0-0-1 during a Friday/Saturday series with Idaho. It was Utah's first unbeaten preseason since joining the ECHL in 2005. From an aggregate standpoint, Utah outscored Idaho 6-4, winning 4-2 Friday and falling 3-2 in a shootout Saturday as defensemen Ryan Turek, Nick Tuzzolino and Cody Lampl took the night off.
Between the pipes: Andrew Engelage stopped 20 of 22 shots Friday and Shane Owen 30 of 32 Saturday as Utah's goaltending tandem combined for a .925 preseason save percentage. Two of Idaho's four goals were scored on the power-play and one came in the final minute of regulation Friday with Utah up 4-1.
Roster breakdown: Utah's current roster has seven rookies, three veterans and 16 players with at least a year of professional experience. Utah returns six players from the 2010-2011 season. 14 players played all or part of last year in the ECHL, while nine players played all or part of the season in the AHL.
Behind The Bench: Kevin Colley enters his fourth year as the Grizzlies head coach and his fifth season with the organization. He is currently the longest tenured coach in the ECHL with his current team. The 32-year-old, who up until this past summer had been the youngest coach in the ECHL since taking over in Utah, has led the Grizzlies to the playoffs and a record of .500 or better in his first three seasons as coach.
Affiliation: Utah enters their third season as the ECHL affiliate for the Calgary Flames.