WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The grass is frosting up in Utah, it can only mean one thing… hockey season is almost here. The Utah Grizzlies are starting to fill out their roster, with seven players under contract for the coming season, three of them announced in the last ten days. Those signings are starting to fill the voids in the Grizzlies roster.
The Grizzlies signings started on August 1, when they re-signed local forward Mason Mannek. He returns to the Grizzlies after signing signed late last season. In nine games, Mannek had two points (2A). Before turning pro, Mannek played 242 games with the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League and piled up 94 points (43G, 51A).
The second and only other returning player announced so far is Salt Lake City goalie, Garrett Metcalf, who returns after also playing nine games last season. He went 4-4 in those games, with a 2.33 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He won the ECHL Goaltender of the Week award for April 19-25, where he stopped 51 of the 54 shots he faced in the two games he won that week.
Metcalf was taken in the sixth-round and 179th overall in the 2015 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks. The Grizzlies look forward to bringing him back after his excellent start last season.
Other signings include forwards Tyler Penner and Brian Bowen, defenseman Kyle Pouncy and Austin Crossley. Defenseman Luke Martin was traded to Utah in exchange for forward Cedric Pare on September 7th. Shortly after the trade, he signed a contract with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, and it’s possible he could be in a Grizzlies’ uniform at some point this season.
The team’s most recent signing came on Thursday when they announced Connor MacDonald has signed for the upcoming season. MacDonald’s rights were acquired as part of the trade that shipped Diego Cuglietta to the Indy Fuel in February. The 25-year-old defenseman played in a handful of games with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters last season and in nearly 20 games with the Fuel over the span of two seasons.
Avs rookies took part in the Arizona Rookie Faceoff. Goaltender Peyton Jones got the final start of the tournament and helped the Avalanche win 7-4 over the Sharks. Last year’s ECHL Rookie of the Year, Matthew Boucher collected three points (1G,2A) in the tournament. Other former Grizzlies playing in the tournament included Nick Henry and Sasha Mutula.
The Avalanche opened camp this week with 56 players attending. Currently, the Eagles camp roster is at 15 skaters and three goalies, and that number is expected to grow as the Avalanche trim their roster. As we look at the camp roster, a few key players from the Grizzlies are on there and could come back to Utah on AHL contracts such as Boucher, Henry, and Mutula.
Looking ahead, exhibition hockey is about three weeks away, with a weekend home-and-home. The Grizzlies will renew acquaintances with the Idaho Steelheads in Boise on Friday, October 15. The same two teams will play in Ogden on Saturday, October 16.
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