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West Valley City Journal

Utah Grizzlies will have new coach in 2021

Oct 05, 2021 10:32AM ● By Greg James

By Greg James |  [email protected] 

The Utah Grizzlies are set to begin their season at the end of October. It will be under the direction of a new head coach.

After eight seasons as the team’s head coach and general manager Tim Branham left the team to take an assistant coaching position with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. The Eagles are the minor league affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

The team has yet to name a replacement (at press deadline), but team officials expect a decision before October.

Branham is the Grizzlies winningest coach in franchise history with 284 victories. He took the team to the playoffs six times. In the 2019-20 season the playoffs were canceled because of COVID, but he established a franchise best .637 winning percentage that season. Butch Goring has the second most coaching wins in team history.

Branham owns and operates youth hockey camps in Wisconsin in the off season. He played 284 professional games in his career and was a defenseman selected in the third round by the Vancouver Canucks. He played his entire career in the AHL and ECHL.

The Grizzlies have had a busy off-season preparing for the upcoming year. They signed local standouts Garrett Metcalf and Mason Mannek to contracts for this season. They also offered contracts to several other returning stars.

Metcalf is entering his second season as a professional. He played part of the last season with the Grizzlies. He was named ECHL goaltender of the week in April. He was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL draft.

Mannek played in nine games last season chalking up two assists. He played from 2018 to 2021 with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, where he scored 43 goals and had 51 assists. He graduated from Herriman High in 2018.

In other team news, Mitch Maxwell announced his retirement from hockey in July. 

The season ended last year after a first-round sweep by the Allen Americans. Despite the playoff loss, the team made the playoffs for the 13th time in franchise history. They won 35 games last year.

Rookie Matthew Boucher was named ECHL rookie of the year. He led all rookies in the league with 25 goals. 

Goaltender Parker Gahagen had an outstanding season in 17 games he went 10-4-1 and had a .929 save percentage. He was also the league’s goaltender of the month in May. 

The Grizzlies push to make the playoffs included a May 4 game against Rapid City when they scored a team record four short-handed goals. 

Boucher led the team in goals (25), Trey Bradley had 37 assists and Cedric Pare played in the most games (67). They used 52 players last season.

The season is set to begin on Oct. 22 with the Idaho Steelheads. They will host their first home game Saturday, Oct. 23. Last season was the club’s 25th anniversary season. 

The Grizzlies play their home games at the Maverik Center in West Valley. It opened its doors in 1997 and hosted the 2002 Olympic hockey tournament. It also hosts concerts, shows and business meetings.