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Branham, Grizzlies open ECHL season against Idaho

Published October 17, 2013 5:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City • Tim Branham, the new coach and general manager of the Utah Grizzlies, knows what it takes to win an ECHL championship.

For now, he believes his team is good enough to do it.

Branham is a former assistant at Reading, which won the Kelly Cup last season. He was hired by the Grizzlies during the summer and has pieced together a "top-notch" roster.

"It's a hard-working group — blue collar, high character," said Branham. "The leadership and character we have in this group is phenomenal."

Can the Grizzlies duplicate Reading's run to a title?

"The team we have is good enough," he said. "But you have to remember that so many things happen between now and the end of the season — call-ups, injuries.

"To win a championship at this level, it's all about timing — having that right group in place come playoff time. But to answer the question, yes, the group that we have now is top-notch. They are good."

The Grizzlies open their season of high expectations Friday night at the Maverik Center against Idaho.

Branham's first major decision will involve his goaltenders.

The problem?

He has three who are considered intriguing prospects. They all have their coach's confidence and trust, too.

Ben Meisner won seven of eight starts at the end of last season after signing with the Grizzlies. He also played well in the preseason, Branham said.

Aaron Dell comes to Utah from Allen (Texas), where he was 22-11-6 last season and helped lead the Americans to the Central Hockey League championship.

Igor Bobkov was Anaheim's third-round pick in the 2009 draft. He went 11-17 last year with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.

"I'm not sure who is going to start [against Idaho]," Branham said, shaking his head. "... It's tough, but it's also a good problem to have.

"If it was the other way around and we were scrambling without a No. 1, it would be a bad problem. But we have three No. 1s. That's how I see it." —

Idaho Steelheads at Utah Grizzlies

P Friday, 7 p.m.

At the Maverik Center —

Grizzlies on TV

The Utah Grizzlies and KMYU on Thursday announced their broadcast schedule for the 2013-2014 season. KMYU will televise seven Grizzlies games during the season, starting on Friday against the Idaho Steelheads at 7 p.m. Other 7 p.m. games on KMYU will be:

• November 30, 2013 vs San Francisco

• December 28, 2013 vs Colorado

• January 11, 2014 vs Stockton

• January 25, 2014 vs Bakersfield

• March 1, 2014 vs Ontario

• April 12, 2014 vs Idaho