Chris Samuels,
Utah Grizzlies forward Jon Puskar waits for the puck to drop during a face-off during the second period of game three of the ECHL conference semifinals against the Fort Wayne Komets at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
I’ve never heard someone come to a game and be disappointed. The energy is so high, the noise, the hits, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere. —Grizzlies forward Jon Puskar

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies open up their season on Friday against the Idaho Steelheads, and Grizzlies forward Jon Puskar couldn’t be more excited about being back on the ice.

“I’m just looking forward to continue the tradition of what we had here last year,” said Puskar. “We’ve had the best home record for the past four years, and I think with the team we got we can hopefully make it five here.”

Puskar, who grew up in Michigan, spent time with Elmira right out of college in 2014 and before coming to the Grizzlies spent time in Cincinnati and Pensacola during 2014-15.

Wanting to come back and help the Grizzlies get the title this upcoming season was something Puskar wanted to do.

“I love coming here, everyone is just so great to you,” said Puskar. “I’ve built so many good connections with so many good families. I love a little girl named Bree who sits in the corner. She’s the one who really brought me back here.”

During the Grizzlies' playoff run last season, Puskar finished with two goals and four assists for the Grizzlies. In his first regular season with the Grizzlies he had nine goals and seven assists in just 44 games.

"Jon was a very versatile player for us last season, and his commitment to our community is tremendous,” Grizzlies head coach Tim Branham said in a press release. “We are excited to have him back."

The Grizzlies, who finished third in the West last season, know that they can be a successful team. During the second half of last season, the Grizzlies struggled as teams started learning how to defend and play them better.

That challenge for the Grizzlies however helped them start the season playing at a high level of play, finishing the preseason 2-0 even after only being together for a few short weeks.

“It’s rare you come into training camp and a whole team clicks right away, and that’s what we got,” said Puskar. “That’s why you keep playing the game. You love the chemistry in the locker room, and that’s what we’ve got right now.”

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According to Puskar, Travis Howe, a defenseman, would win if a fight were to ever break out on the ice, and Phil Pietroniro is most likely to listen to the “girliest” music.

The Grizzlies open up their season this weekend. They have home games against Idaho on both Friday and Saturday. For those who have never been to a hockey game or want to learn more, Puskar thinks the Maverick Center is the perfect place to learn.

“When you come to a game here, everything is slowed down,” said Puskar. “I’ve never heard someone come to a game and be disappointed. The energy is so high, the noise, the hits, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere.”

Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22