After 76 games in the regular season, the postseason is about to begin for the Utah Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies will be at the Colorado Eagles in Game 1 of the ECHL Western Conference playoffs on Thursday night to start a best-of-seven series. It is the first time the teams have met in the postseason.
Colorado is the third seed in the West and Utah is the sixth seed, although the Grizzlies did win the season series, 7-3.
"The team is very confident right now and is looking forward to getting on the ice," Grizzlies coach Tim Branham said. "Colorado is playing very well right now but so are we. We need to have everyone on the same page and play our game for 60 minutes."
The Eagles finished the season with eight wins in its past 10 games. The Grizzlies won six of their final 10 regular season games.
Utah's top line, which features cousins Barry Almeida and T.J. Syner, will need to continue to play well in the postseason. Almeida had 12 points in nine games this season against Colorado, and Synder had seven points.
Goaltending has been one of Utah's strengths. Ryan Faragher ranked 10th in the ECHL with a 2.24 goals against average, and will make his professional playoff debut. His backup will be Mark Owuya, who carries a 1.91 goals against average and .930 save percentage in 10 career postseason starts for the Reading Royals in 2012 and 2013.
Both clubs have exceptional home records. Colorado was third in the ECHL with 24 home wins, and Utah was fourth with 23. The Grizzlies did win three of five games in Colorado this season.
Following the two games in Colorado, Utah will return to home ice on April 21 and April 23, with a game on April 24 if the series goes more than four games.
"We have a very talented group here with a lot of heart and character," Branham said. "If we play the way we're capable of playing, we can beat anyone."