Welcome to the Utah Grizzlies edition of Three stars of the ECHL. First off, a little history about the Utah Grizzlies. The Utah Grizzlies are going to be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2020-21. Founded in 1995, the Utah Grizzlies won the Turner Cup in 1996 when they defeated the Orlando Solar Bears.
The current head coach is Tim Branham and he serves as the winningest head coach in Utah Grizzlies history. The hockey club has played a total of 1,882 games. In doing so, they have won 884 and lost 772. They have tied 21 times and lost in overtime or shootouts 204 times.
The first player in our three stars segment is left-winger Ryan Kinasewich. Kinasewich leads off this list for his role with the Grizzlies as the all-time leading goal scorer. He does so with 159 goals and 200 assists for 359 points. Kinasewich put up these totals through 239 games.
Kinasewich also has some playoff experience under his belt, where the forward has recorded 12 goals along with 11 assists, which he achieved through 30 playoff games. The native of St. Albert, Alberta is entering his fourth year with the team as assistant coach.
As an assistant coach, Kinasewich works with the special teams unit, and last season, their special teams were deadly as the Grizzlies were ranked eighth with 50 power play goals and sixth with 10 shorthanded goals. I recently had a chance to sit down with the 37-year-old Canadian. I asked him about his unit and coming through in the clutch last season.
He told me that with the way the 2018-19 season ended, he wanted to work on improving the late clutch players and that worked. The reason I chose Ryan Kinasewich was not just because of his role as a player, but as an assistant coach.
The second player on my three stars list is American centreman Trevor Lewis. The reason I chose the forward is because of his role in Utah and his NHL experience mainly. The native of Salt Lake City played only six games with the Grizzlies, racking up three goals along with six assists.
He did so before heading back to Los Angeles Kings during the 2012-13 NHL lockout. I feel like he is a good fit for this series as one of the big names in the NHL these days. Since going to the NHL, Lewis has scored 67 goals along with 93 assists for 160 points. He’s done so in 674 games.
He was a big part of the team’s 2012 playoff run, putting up three goals and six assists in 20 postseason matches. This includes scoring a crucial goal to keep L.A.’s energy going en route to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship. After helping L.A. capture the Stanley Cup, Lewis was set to rejoin them to try and help them go back-to-back.
Then, on September 15th, 2012 at 11:59pm, the National Hockey League began the lockout. With the NHL on hold, Lewis was sent down to Utah to join the Grizzlies until the NHL returned. This would be on January 19th, 2013.
On March 30th, 2018, it was announced that the NHL would play a series of preseason games. That would see the Los Angeles Kings face the Vancouver Canucks in three consecutive seasons. In front of 12,367 fans on September 24th, 2018, Lewis would record an assist in a 4-1 Los Angeles victory.
The following year, on September 21st before 10,014 fans, Lewis, a right-handed shooter, picked up two assists in a fun 7-5 victory. The two didn’t play in 2020 with limitations in place due to COVID-19. It’s unclear if that will be rescheduled.
The third and last player on this list is Canadian defensemen Scott Niedermayer. Despite only playing five games with the Utah Grizzlies in 1998-99, Scott Niedermayer had an outstanding career. In the five games he played there, the lefty racked two assists for two points.
Over his 18 NHL seasons, Niedermayer played 1,263 career games, splitting time between the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. Niedermayer collected many awards throughout his playing career, being named a five-time All-Star and being appointed to the 1993 All-Rookie Team. He’s a four-time Stanley Cup Champion and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2007.
Over his illustrious career, Niedermayer scored 172 goals while adding an outstanding 574 assists. Lastly, even though the Canadian isn’t known for his role with the Grizzlies, he probably served as an idle for a vast majority of the young superstars today.