Utah Grizzlies Sign Herriman’s Mason Mannek, Ticket Sales Rise
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For the third time this season, the Utah Grizzlies have signed a locally born player. On Tuesday, the Grizzlies announced that they have signed Mason Mannek.
Mannek was raised in Herriman, Utah and has spent the past four seasons playing with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
He is a fourth-generation Utah hockey player. His father, Brandon Mannek, played his juniors for the Ogden Blades and then was a member of the first-ever team at Weber State University. His grandfather, Holger Mannek, and his great-grandfather, Gunther Mannek, have been regulars at Utah rinks for as long as there have been rinks in Utah.
Mannek joins Garret Metcalf and Jared Pike on the first Grizzlies roster to ever feature three Utah-born players. To be clear, these are players that weren’t just signed because the local team needed a couple of guys to fill roster spots. These are players that have paid their dues and earned their way onto a pro roster at a time when roster spots are at an all-time low.
Teams in the AHL and ECHL opted out of playing during the pandemic. Most of the AHL isn’t participating in playoffs at all. With the numbers Mannek put up this season, he would typically end up in the AHL, but teams don’t even have space for their drafted players.
Mannek had 17 points in 24 games this season while serving as an alternate captain of the Winterhawks. Expect Mannek to become a fan favorite.
“I expect Mason to play like he always has,” head coach Tim Branham told KSL Sports. “He’s a hard-working kid that defends well and chips in on offense. He’s hard to play against because his motor never stops. He’s the exact player we need right now.”
At 5’9”, he plays a physical game and has taken on some of the biggest players the WHL has to offer. Mannek had 37 PIMS in 24 games.
“My season was coming to an end and I had no clue what my future was as a hockey player,” Mannek explained, “I was just trying to embrace every second of my time in Portland. I woke up the next day to a text from Ryan Kinasewich asking if I’d be interested in finishing the season with the team. I jumped at the opportunity. I’m super blessed and grateful to get my first look at pro in Utah. I have so many memories on the ice at the Maverik Center. I even graduated from high school in this arena. It has all been so surreal to me. I’m happy it worked out. I am very excited to be a Grizzly once again.” (He was referring to his time as a Junior Grizzly.)
Metcalf has been in and out of the lineup for no other reason than the Avalanche having so much depth in goal. In 8 games with the Grizzlies this season, Metcalf has put up a respectable 93 percent save average and a 1.97 GAA and been given the ECHL goaltender of the week award.
Parker Gahagen, who was just returned from the AHL’s Colorado Eagles’ has been almost un-score-onable (it’s a goalie term), posting a 94 percent save average and getting back-to-back nods as the ECHL’s goalie of the week.
Coach Branham said, “It’s never an easy process, balancing goalies or players, but it’s a good problem to have. You just want to keep the best lineup on the ice every night and also keep everyone in playing shape if they aren’t playing.”
The Grizzlies look to be peaking at the right time. They have won seven straight games and have a four game homestand with the Allen Americans starting Wednesday night. Allen is above Utah in that standings and picking up wins this week would solidify Utah’s chances of making the playoffs.
The team is going to try and keep the formula they have had for the past few weeks. Branham explained to KSL sports, “I like to focus on us instead of the other team. We feel we can beat anyone and we want teams to have to adjust to us.”
The Grizzlies play Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night and close out the series with a Sunday matinee game. According to the team, since signing the local guys tickets sales have increased.
The Maverik Center is recommending, but no longer requiring masks and are increasing compacity.
At the time of this article, a set attendance number had not been established.
Grizzlies Vice President Jared Youngman told KSL Sports, “We are trying to find the safest way to get as many of our fans in the building while having some form of social distancing.”
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.