Utah Grizzlies Look To Turn It Around After Not Meeting Preseason Expectations

Dec 20, 2023, 2:20 PM

Members of the Grizzlies celebrate a goal...

Photo courtesy of the Utah Grizzlies

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Grizzlies are a good hockey team, on paper anyway.

Looking at the team at the beginning of the season, they had depth in net, a solid defensive core, and were bringing back some of their top scorers from last season.

Maybe if I had paid more attention in algebra, I could come up with a “Moneyball” style algorithm to figure it all out. You take players assigned from Colorado, minus players constantly recalled by Colorado, times that by season-ending injuries, divided by the square root of first-year pro players trying to find their pro game. Work into that equation that the goalie you brought in to be your third guy, so you could nurture him into being a pro, is now your main guy (for 3 games he was the only guy). Now when you get all that calculated, you need to find a way to make that ever-changing lineup seem like they’ve been playing together every night.

The Grizzlies have dropped 4 of their last 5 games. They are in last place in the Western Conference. But they are not out of anything yet, and some of the pieces are starting to come together.

Utah Grizzlies Coach Ryan Kinasawich Talks To KSL Sports

“For us to get back to winning, especially on the road, we need to simplify our game, more on the road,” head coach Ryan Kinasawich continued, “I think at times guys try to do it alone to help the team out, and it doesn’t work in pro hockey. Also, some guys need to get their confidence back. Going through tough stretches can cause players to lose confidence which in turn makes their play very inconsistent.”

The Grizzlies are not getting blown out, they’re competing in every game.

“I think up front, Cole Gallant and Nathan Burke have done a very solid job, especially as rookies. They play a very complete game and help the team in all situations. It’s been nice to watch their growth so far,” Coach Kinasawich said, “On the back end, I think Kyle Mayhew and Bryan Yoon have done a tremendous job eating a lot of minutes and creating both offense and shutting plays down. They have been impressive for us.”

RELATED: Grizzlies Third Goalie, Salt Lake’s Own Garrett Metcalf Signs AHL Deal

The Grizzlies, surprisingly started this season with Trent Miner as their starting goalie. The seventh-round pick by the Avalanche in the 2019 draft, Miner has been dominant in the ECHL, with a 2.86 GAA, 911 percent SAA, and 10 shutouts in the past 2 seasons. The Avalanche started the season with a bit of congestion in net, that’s the only reason Miner didn’t start this season in the AHL.

Miner was recalled to the AHL in November and has a 2.2 GAA, 919 percent SAA, and just posted his first AHL shutout.

Utah’s own Garrett Metcalf was set to play a huge share of the games this season but has been sidelined with injury. Enter 21-year-old Dante Giannuzzi, a front office and soon-to-be fan favorite, signed by the Grizzlies fresh off four seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Kinaswach spoke with KSL Sports about the goalie situation.

“I think it has a big impact on the team, losing such great goalies in Miner and Metcalf. With that being said, Dante has stepped right in and given us a chance to win night in and night out. I think we need to be a bit cleaner in front of him and give him more talk and support. He’s a young goalie and he’s been thrown into the fire early, and I think he has handled it very well,” he explained.

The St. Louis Blues also assigned goalie Will Cranley to the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies have a big home and home series against their rivals, the Idaho Steelheads, Dec 22 in Idaho and Saturday, Dec 23 at the Maverik Center. You can get 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.


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Utah Grizzlies Look To Turn It Around After Not Meeting Preseason Expectations