WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Grizzlies play the Manitoba Moose tonight at 7:30 p.m. — and this following part is not a misprint — at the E Center.
Really, they do. After straying away from their home ice for three weeks, the Grizz are scheduled for a rare appearance in front of their very own fans. Utah's pro hockey club has played its last six games on the road, and it hasn't skated at the E Center since losing to the Cleveland Lumberjacks in a shootout on Feb. 23.
Not a lot of good has happened to the Grizz since they last donned their home uniforms. They were a meager 1-4-1 away from the Beehive State and fell to 31-32-5.
That record is good for 67 points, which puts them in fourth place in the Western Conference. Normally that would be good enough for the final playoff spot, but this year a fifth team from the East can sneak in and grab that spot from a Western team if it has a better record. And Milwaukee does at 32-28-5 (69 points).
Meaning, of course, the Grizz better get back on track quick or they are going to miss out on the postseason for the second time in their history. Their schedule at the end of the season should help out a bit. After tonight's game, they travel to Manitoba for a pair of contests on Sunday and Wednesday. But following that, nine of their final 11 games are at home, including the final seven in a row.
The Moose are still in first place in the West at 33-24-9 (75 points) followed by Houston (34-27-6, 74) and Chicago (31-28-7, 69). Manitoba has had plenty of success against the Grizz, going 5-2-0 in the season series so far. That despite the fact that they've only scored three more goals in the seven games. Four of the games have been 2-1, and one other was also decided by a single goal.