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Affiliation With Colorado Avalanche Gives Grizzlies Entertaining Depth

Hunter Miska #30 of Team Housley tends net against Team McClanahan at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the First Niagara Center on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Grizzlies opened training camp Monday without the two goalies who played the majority of last season’s games.

Gone are Joe Cannata (Sweden) and Kevin Carr (England) who left to continue their careers overseas.

Cannata is a Kelly Cup Champion and was expected to carry the Grizzlies to the championship last season but call ups and inconsistent play opened the door for Carr to play 36 games. Both goalies ended with just under a 91 percent save average on the season.

The only other goalies on the roster from last season were Alex Leclerc who played in one game before leaving for Europe and myself – Jay Stevens.

Enter Jeff Smith, Mason Mcdonald and Blake Wojtala to fight for the starting role.

Wojtala – the oldest of the three – enters the season at 25-years-old. He finished his college season last year at Salve Regina, an NCAA Division three school. He turned pro and played eight games in the ECHL with Worcester.

Smith is a first-year pro out of St. Could State – NCAA Division one. His numbers were solid. Smith finished college with a 92.3 percent save average.

Mcdonald is a former Calgary Flames 2nd round pick (34 overall in 2014). In his three pro seasons, he has only played five games in the AHL and has yet to post over 90 percent on save average.

His numbers in the ECHL have been great. I’d expect Mcdonald to be the starter out of this group.

Now for the wildcard.

As the Colorado Avalanche affiliate, there are several other goalies in the mix for the Grizzlies.

The Colorado Eagles, another Avalanche affiliate, have three goalies in camp right now and they are all AHL caliber. This includes Hunter Miska who is expected to be the “Goalie of the Future” for the Avalanche.

I’d expect to see either the Avalanche’s 2016 5th round pick Adam Werner out of Sweden or Antoine Bibeu (2017, 6th round pick for Toronto) who the Avalanche just acquired from the Sharks, sent to the Grizzlies to start the season.

Bibeau was an all-star in the AHL last year posting a 23-13-4 record for the Barracudas.

I know it’s about as clear as mud right now but the good thing about the Avalanche affiliation is the depth it provides for the entire organization.

The Grizzlies open the season on October 11 against the Idaho Steelheads at the Maverick Center in Salt Lake City.

To stay up to date on all of the latest with the Utah Grizzlies check out Utah Puck Report.

Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com.