Leading the charge for the Grizzlies will be forwards Erik Bradford and Ralph Cuddemi. Bradford led the club in points with 63 on 17 goals and 46 assists and Cuddemi posted a team-leading 27 goals, good for fifth in the ECHL amongst rookies. C.J. Eick, who scored two goals in the regular season finale against the Missouri Mavericks, is excited about the task at hand.
"We're going to have to play our game, we know we have what it takes to win," Eick said. We have the goaltending in (Ryan) Faragher and (Kevin) Boyle and we know that if we stick together as a club and believe in ourselves, we can be successful."
Indeed, goaltending will be a key if the Grizzlies expect to contend against Allen. Boyle, who is under contract with the Anaheim Ducks but recently returned to Utah, has been exceptional since donning a Grizzly uniform. In 16 games, he is 9-6-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. Faragher will also be expected to see some ice time.
It's no accident that the Americans have had success in recent years. Allen will be attempting to do something that has never occurred in ECHL history by reaching a third consecutive finals.
Forward Chad Costello not only led Allen in points with 122 on 33 goals and 89 assists, but also led the entire ECHL for the third consecutive season. Allen is stellar defensively as well. Joel Chouinard led the league with a plus-47 rating on the season.
But for Allen, it begins with the goaltending and the club possesses a stud in Riley Gil. Gil is the all-time wins leader in the league with 48 career playoff wins and tied for the league lead with seven shutouts, and is first in save percentage at .935 with a 2.22 goals-against average.
Grizzlies vs. Americans
Game 1 • Wednesday, Utah at Allen: 6 p.m. MDT
Game 2 • Friday, Utah at Allen: 6 p.m. MDT
Game 3 • April 19, Allen at Utah: 7 p.m.
Game 4 • April 21, Allen at Utah: 7 p.m.
*Game 5 • April 22, Allen at Utah: 7 p.m.
*Game 6 • April 24, Utah at Allen: 6 p.m. MDT
*Game 7 • April 25, Utah at Allen: 6 p.m. MDT