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Grizz expect to duel with Dogs

A year ago, the Utah Grizzlies defeated the Long Beach Ice Dogs four times while opening the International Hockey League season with an 8-0 record.

By season's end, however, it was the canines doing all the chasing - winning the last seven meetings, including a 4-0 playoff sweep of the two-time defending Turner Cup champion Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals. Long Beach went on to win the conference title, but fell to Detroit 4-2 in the league finals.When the two teams met in a preseason game 10 days ago in West Valley City, Grizz center Chris Taylor predicted the West will once again be won by one of the teams.

"I imagine it will probably come down to us again," said Taylor, whose 194 points top Utah's all-time scoring list. "Last year's playoffs didn't sit too well with us. Now we've got to gun for them."

The shootout begins for real tonight as the Grizzlies and Ice Dogs open the IHL regular season at the Long Beach Arena. KTKK radio (630 AM) will broadcast the game live at 8 p.m. (MDT).

Utah coach Butch Goring said the 1997-98 Grizz are bigger and stronger than last year's team, the franchise's only squad not to win the Turner Cup.

Only six of 21 players on Utah's roster 12 months ago are still with the organization. The veteran cast includes goaltender Mark McArthur; defenders Gord Dineen, Rod Miller and Jeff Sharples; and forwards Vladimir Orszagh and Tay-lor.

The roster turnover has increased Utah's overall size with 13 skaters 6-foot or taller. Forwards Tony Horacek and Mark Law-er-ence stand the tallest at 6-4, with defender Jeff Libby measuring 6-3.

Other Utah newcomers include former Denver Grizzlies standout Kip Miller, who led the 1995 Turner Cup champions in scoring; center Fred Knipscheer; former Salt Lake Golden Eagles right wing Dan Plante; defensemen Jaroslav Modry and John Namestnikov; and goalie Wade Flaherty.

SLAP SHOTS: Including the playoffs, Long Beach won last year's season series 9-7 . . . Three players who finished the 1996-97 season with Utah (Joby Messier, Nick Vachon and Andrey Vasilyev) are now with Long Beach . . . Both the Grizzlies and Ice Dogs have partial affiliations with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings . . . Utah travels to San Antonio for games Wednesday and Friday before making its E Center debut Oct. 11 against Las Vegas.



Out of hibernation

Players on the 1997-98 Utah Grizzlies season-opening roster. The Grizz open the International Hockey League campaign tonight in Long Beach, Calif.

Forwards (11): Wade Fenning, Tony Horacek, Fred Knipscheer, Mark Lawrence, Kip Miller, Sean O'Brien, Vladimir Orszagh, Dan Plante, Tyler Prosofsky, Jim Storm, Chris Taylor.

Defensemen (7): Jeff DaCosta, Gord Dineen, Jeff Libby, Rod Miller, Jaroslav Modry, John Namestnikov, Jeff Sharples.

Goaltenders (2): Wade Flaherty, Mark McArthur.

Head coach: Butch Goring.

Assistant: Bob Bourne.