Just two months ago, Scott Arniel was a struggling player on a Houston Aeros team that was struggling in an attempt to make the playoffs.
Then came the call from Utah coach Butch Goring, who was interested in making a trade for Arniel."I wasn't having that good of a year and I talked to Butch about it," said Arniel, a 15th-year pro. "He said 'I know you've struggled a bit this year, but we want your experience. You bring it to the table every night and we want you to just contribute when you can.' " Consider the last-second trade - which sent center Egor Bashkatov and future considerations to Houston for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound left winger - a huge success.
Now aiming for the Turner Cup championship, Arniel and the Grizzlies have turned out to be a perfect match for each other.
"Scotty Arniel has done everything we thought he'd do for us," said Goring.
Arniel, who was a player/coach with Houston, is leading the Grizz in goals with nine and is second in points-scored with 16. Veteran Andy Brickley, who has a torn ACL in his right knee but still plays, leads the team with 17 points.
Arniel played especially well on the power play in the Las Vegas series and scored two goals in the decisive 7-4 victory in Game 6 that clinched Utah a spot in the championship round.
Arniel's quick to dish the credit away from himself, though.
"It's just a case where I'm having success because of the guys I'm on the ice with," said Arniel, who was a player/coach with Houston.
But Arniel brings more than just modesty and goal-scoring to the Grizz, he also packs along nine full seasons of NHL experience.
"He brings a lot of experience and a lot of the same qualities that Andy Brickley has. He plays with poise and knows what the game is all about," added Goring. "He's actually scored more than I thought he was going to contribute. But he has and obviously we're very thankful for it."