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Utah Grizzlies Hockey Is Back With New Talent; But Season Won’t Be Normal

Utah Grizzlies' goalie Kevin Boyle blocks an Allen Americans shot as they play in ECHL Mountain Division Semifinals best of seven series at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Players have been signed, tickets are being sold, and once again, there are sounds of Utah Grizzlies hockey at the Maverik Center.

That’s where the old normal stops, and the new normal starts.

I recently had a chance to talk with Grizzlies Head Coach Tim Branham. Between the time we ended our conversation and I had typed this article – Idaho, Cincinnati and Kalamazoo opted out of playing the 20-21 season in the ECHL. Add that to the fact that the entire North Division had already opted out – the ECHL is now down thirteen teams.

As bad as it sounds, it could actually turn out to be a good thing for the fans that have teams playing.

“The talent pool for each team just got a lot deeper. We’ve already signed two guys that were supposed to play with those teams, and we’re looking for others,” said Branham.

When last season ended it happened at a time when the Grizzlies were just starting to shift gears for playoffs, and things were really starting to come together for the team.

“At the time, we had a ton of call ups, and we were expecting to get those guys back with their experience and use that for our playoff run,” Branham explained, “We had really good guys on the ice, but more than that they were a pleasure and fun to be around off the ice. It’s those quality, character guys that make the team successful, and I tried to bring them back.”

The Maverik Center will allow 1,800 fans in their 12,000-seat arena this season. The tickets are already on sale and are expected to sell out soon.

“Hopefully it’s 1,800 of the loudest fans,” said Branham, “We’re just happy to be playing again. The Grizz are taking all the precautions so that we can be safe and play an entire season.”

Utah Grizzlies Hockey Is Back

The Grizzlies start the season in Rapid City on December 11 and open up at home hosting Tulsa on December 18. You can find tickets here.

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. The show is hosted by KSL Sports’ hockey insider, Jay Stevens.