Utah is a big underdog against top-seeded Las Vegas with the ECHL's National Conference finals set to begin today
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This is a team that finished just above .500 in the regular season. This is a team that made the playoffs as the fourth and final seed from the West Division. This is a team that was winless for the entire month of March, when it compiled a 0-7-2-3 record.
The Utah Grizzlies have certainly had their low points this season and still, this team finds itself in the ECHL's National Conference finals.
The Grizzlies' quest for a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs - where the winners of the National Conference and American Conference meet up - begins tonight as Utah faces the top-seeded Las Vegas Wranglers at 8:05 p.m.
"We had our ups and downs but we created what we knew we could create," Utah coach Jason Christie said. "One thing I like about this team is all year long, we were shorthanded and going through tough times but not one guy was making excuses."
The Grizzlies had eight days off to prepare for the Wranglers. So now, not only does Utah have its full team back, but most of the players have had time to recover from the minor bumps and bruises they accumulated over their series against Stockton and Victoria.
That rest was much-needed as Utah will face the highest-scoring team in these playoffs. The Wranglers have scored 48 goals in 11 games.
"They're just very skilled and they just got three solid lines," Christie said. "We have to make sure we're ready for everything."
And even though the Grizzlies - the clear underdog - are going up against Las Vegas - the clear favorite - for the National Conference title, Christie said they're not satisfied just to be there.
"We set our goals high," Christie said. "We can be happy for what we've accomplished, but we can't be satisfied. We have to keep moving forward."