West Valley City • The Utah Grizzlies aren’t playing like a No. 7 seed, which gives coach Kevin Colley a good feeling about their upcoming ECHL playoff matchup against second-seeded Ontario.
The Grizzlies have lost in regulation only three times in their last 17 games. Their best-of-seven Western Conference series against the Reign opens Tuesday night in California.
“To sum up the whole year, at least we’re getting hot at the right time,” Colley said. “That’s the most important thing. ...
“Our hunger level is better. It’s always going to be will-before-skill in our league, and I like how our group is battling right now.”
It’s been a turbulent season for the Grizzlies, who made 47 personnel-related transactions and used 50 players because of call-ups, injuries and trades.
After top goaltender Andrew Engelage was injured early in the year, Colley used five possible replacements before signing Ben Meisner.
“It’s hard to find a No. 1 goaltender in November,” Colley said. “Everyone tries to lock up their stud goaltender during the summer and that’s what we did. We know Andrew can win hockey games. But he goes down.”
Meisner is from American National University. He signed after an amateur tryout on March 13. With him in goal, the Grizzlies are 3-1-0-4.
“He’s taking advantage of the situation,” Colley said. “He could be sitting back in the classroom, finishing up school. But he wants to be a pro and, in the pro game, everything is timing. ... He’s done an outstanding job.”
Beating Ontario, however, will be a challenge.
“You just can’t shoot yourself in the foot against them,” Colley said. “They play a gritty, hard-nosed game. They aren’t going to go east-west on you too much.
“We have to be disciplined, push the puck away from our net and then be structurally sound. It’s going to come down to not making mistakes.”
Utah-Ontario playoff schedule
Game 1 • Utah at Ontario, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Game 2 • Utah at Ontario, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Game 3 • Ontario at Utah, Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 • Ontario at Utah, Saturday, 7 p.m.
x-Game 5 • Ontario at Utah, April 9, 7 p.m.
x-Game 6 • Utah at Ontario, April 12, 8 p.m.
x-Game 7 • Utah at Ontario, April 13, 7 p.m.