WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Utah Grizzlies and the Tulsa Oilers are set to battle in the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Grizzlies finished the last part of the regular season on a 6-4 run, including 4-1 against the Idaho Steelheads. On April 9, the Grizzlies clinched their 13th playoff berth in the last 14 seasons when they defeated the Steelheads 4-0. The Grizzlies won their first-ever division championship six days later, thanks to a Dakota Raabe hat trick. It’s been a banner season for the Grizzlies, who set a new franchise high with 42 wins in the regular season.
Tulsa enters the playoffs having gone 6-3-1 in their last ten, losing a three-game series against the Rapid City Rush. This will be the first time these teams will face each other in the playoffs.
Final Regular Season Records:
Utah Grizzlies: 42-27-3, 87 points (1st in Mountain Division)
Tulsa Oilers: 36-30-6, 78 points (4th in Mountain Division)
Series Schedule: (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Friday, April 22- Tulsa at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT
Game 2 – Saturday, April 23- Tulsa at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 26- Utah at TULSA – 7:05 pm CDT
Game 4 – Wednesday, April 27- Utah at TULSA – 7:05 pm CDT
Game 5 – Thursday, April 28- Utah at TULSA – 7:05 pm CDT*
Game 6 – Monday, May 2- Tulsa at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT*
Game 7 – Wednesday, May 4- Tulsa at UTAH – 7:10 pm MDT*
Season Series Recap:
The Grizzlies won the season series going 4-3-1 against the Oilers. Only one game went beyond regulation and it came on November 28, when Eddie Matsushima scored the winning goal 41 seconds into the extra frame. Including the overtime game, four of them were decided by one goal, with each squad picking up two of those wins.
Mason Mannek was the hottest scorer for the Grizzlies against Tulsa, scoring four goals; 13 other players also scored goals against Tulsa. Trent Miner of Utah recorded the only shutout of the season series in a 1-0 win on March 26th.
For Tulsa, rookie forward Jack Doremus led all Oilers’ players in the season series, scoring six times and earning nine points in the eight game slate.
How The Grizzlies Win The Series:
The Grizzlies have been led by goaltenders Trent Miner and Peyton Jones this season. Miner, in his rookie season, went 16-12 with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Jones went 17-9-1, with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
Up front, Mason Mannek, playing in his second season, posted 51 points (23G, 28A), while Charle-Edouard D’Astous had 57 points (26G, 31A) en route to being named the ECHL defenseman of the year. Mannek and D’Astous will be called upon to step their games up in this series. A key to this series for the Grizzlies is to make sure that they take good shots and that the d-men have the correct positioning.
How The Oilers Win The Series:
The Oilers will win this series if their scorers get going early in the series. Doremus leads the team with 59 points (29G, 30A). Adam Pleskach is another one of those scorers that, if he can get going, Tulsa can easily steal this series from the Grizzlies.
Like the Grizzlies, the Oilers have two solid goaltenders in Mason Mannella and Ryan Ruck. Mannella played a majority of the season for Tulsa playing 59 games, having a solid record of 29-16-4 with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Ruck played only 19 games having a 3.57 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage. We will likely see Mannella in goal for a majority of the series. If the defense can help Mannella in the series, Tulsa has a strong chance of advancing.
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