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West Valley City Journal

Local hockey player returns home to the Utah Grizzlies

Jun 14, 2021 11:28AM ● By Greg James

Garrett Metcalf started skating at two and played his first organized hockey games when he was five or six. (Photo courtesy of Robert Church/Utah Grizzlies)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Metcalf is a household name amongst Utah hockey fans. Garrett Metcalf has made the Utah Grizzlies his first stop in what he hopes is a long professional career.

“I was like two or three when I started skating,” Metcalf said. “Then I think my first organized games came when I was five or six. I started playing in the Salt Lake County lightning program until I was about 14 years old.”

His father Steve played on the Highland High School team and by his own admission was not very good so he turned his love of the game into more than 25 years of hockey refereeing. Many remember him as someone who gave his all to hockey. 

“Steve trained me as an official,” current ECHL linesman Jim Mckenna said. “He was the top guy in the IHL (International Hockey League). I asked him for pointers and he was always willing to give, anything he did, he did with a love for hockey. He was willing to give back.”

Metcalf recalled memories of his dad refereeing. 

“My brother and I grew up going to the games with our dad and I spent many years at the Maverik Center. It has now come full circle and for me to play my first year of pro hockey there is pretty special,” Metcalf said. 

His hockey career started at home, on the driveway. “We had a net and my brother started taping pillows to my legs and gave me a helmet and glove. He told me to stand in front of the net,” he said. “One time in Phoenix I ran across some equipment in a store. I begged my dad to buy them. I knew he would not pay full price, but it was on clearance. I told him they were on sale. He called my mom and they knew that I was never going back.” 

He has logged lots of years on the ice to get to this point in his career.

“I spent a lot of summers early at the rink. My dad and I would get out to the oval (Kearns Olympic Oval). I would be on the ice at 4:45 in the morning before school. I did that multiple times a month. I had the support of my parents to get me there and they took me all across the country. I have been very blessed,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf was drafted by the National Hockey Leagues Anaheim Ducks in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft.

“It was a special moment to be drafted. It is something I will cherish the rest of my life,” Metcalf said.

His player rights are still owned by the Ducks. He is under a professional tryout contract. Those contracts are short-term deals that generally only pay per diem. After his draft rights expire in August he can actively pursue a player contract and may end up in the American Hockey League or East Coast Hockey League. 

He has enjoyed his time with the Grizzlies.

“It is very special to be at home. I moved away from home when I was 15 and have not spent more than five days at home since then, but we are cherishing this time we all have together. I have stayed in touch with friends. It has been cool to have all of the support. At games I see familiar faces in the crowd,” Metcalf said.

As a goalie he is competing for playing time with contracted players already on big league clubs.

In his first two games with the Grizzlies he went 2-0, saved 94% of the shots against him and had a sparkling 1.5 goals against average.

He has learned new things playing professional hockey and playing with the Grizzlies has been difficult at times.

“We have struggled to score goals, but the guys have worked hard. For my first taste of pro hockey I have seen some success from my work habits and playing with an unbelievable group that has been nothing but supportive,” he said.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to close the regular season June 5-7. At press time they stand in fourth place and could be in the ECHL playoffs.