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Grizzlies, Steelheads agree to affiliate

Deal will give Utah team more roster flexibility

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BOISE — An affiliation agreement has been reached after a three-year unofficial working relationship between the Idaho Steelheads of the West Coast Hockey League and the Utah Grizzlies of the International Hockey League.

Grizzlies coach Bob Bourne said he intends to take full advantage of the agreement announced Tuesday, sending younger players to Boise to get more skating time and giving other players "a wake-up call."

"I don't have to worry the night before a game about injuries anymore," Bourne said.

The Grizzlies are the top minor-league affiliate of the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League. The three teams now will make up what Grizzlies President Tim Mouser called "a family."

"This gives us the tools to become a good hockey team," Steelheads coach John Olver said. "The affiliation allows us to get some young, hungry players, who will be better players when the playoffs come."

The Steelheads announced that Utah's training camp for the 2000-01 season will run Sept. 20-26 in Boise. Most of the Steelheads players will be included in the Grizzlies' camp.

The two teams also will play two exhibition games at the Bank of America Centre in September.

Olver said that he expected four to six players to be signed to two-way contracts and that those players would move back and forth between the Grizzlies and Steelheads. There also is the possibility for some three-way contracts, with a player potentially playing for the Steelheads, Grizzlies and Stars in the same season, he said.

"I think we are going to be able to get some players that we wouldn't have been able to get without the affiliation," Olver said. "We can now compete for top, young players from throughout the country."

The Steelheads training camp begins Sept. 29. Their first game is Oct. 13.