ECHL • "We were probably underachievers" last season, coach says.
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Kearns • The ECHL's Utah Grizzlies underachieved last season, according to director of hockey operations and head coach Kevin Colley.
He doesn't want it to happen again.
Colley and the Grizzlies opened training camp Tuesday at the Utah Olympic Oval.
Twenty-three players participated in the first session, including 20 who are under contract and three who are trying out. A handful of others are expected after Abbotsford, the Calgary Flames' affiliate in the American Hockey League, finalizes its roster. Asked what he wants to accomplish prior to the Grizzlies' season opener at Idaho on Oct. 12, Colley said, "We have to set the tone right away. …
"Guys are coming to an altitude that's going to take some adjustment. We want to make sure they adjust sooner than later and get right to it."
Last season, the Grizzlies went 8-3 over their final 11 games to finish as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. But they were swept by Las Vegas in the first round of the playoffs.
"On paper, I liked my team," Colley said. "But we were probably underachievers, to be honest with you. And that's always a tough pill to swallow. So we're just trying to do it from Day 1 [this year]. We need to work as hard as we can and instill that culture."
The Grizzlies return a solid core, including top scorer Paul McIlveen.
Among the newcomers expected to make an impact is forward Tommy Maxwell, who spent last season with the Colorado Eagles.
"He has been a huge addition," Colley said. "… I liked him every time we played against him. He plays like a man. He plays on the edge. But he doesn't cross it. You like that competitive nature, plus his leadership. He's going to be a great leader in the locker room."
How did Colley persuade Maxwell to sign with Utah?
"We begged," he said.
Grizzlies preseason storylines
• The Utah Grizzlies open training camp Tuesday at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.
• The Grizzlies' first preseason game is Friday against Idaho at the Eccles Ice Center in Logan.
• Utah opens the regular season on Friday night, Oct. 12 in Boise against the Steelheads.