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Grizzlies hockey

Free clinic designed to promote upcoming season for Utah team

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The strangest hockey line-up in history could come from this group.

Imagine a team with an 11-year old boy, joined by his 41-year-old father. Two high school students flank them; one of them is a 15-year old girl.

These are just four of the 55 people who showed up for a free hockey clinic put on by the Utah Grizzlies at the Cottonwood Recreation Center.

New Grizzlies head coach Jason Christie is now getting his team ready for their season opener on Oct. 21 against Las Vegas. So, this free clinic may be one of the few chances hockey lovers had to get tips from an active ECHL coach this year.

Christie seemed grateful for the chance to teach people whose skills are not yet at the professional level. "The biggest thing is to give back to the kids. I just put myself in their shoes, and, where I was at their age," Christie said.

Being a former player, Christie can do more than just yell at his players about keeping their shoulders square. Christie, along with his assistant coach Chuck Weber, took the players through step-by-step drills that became progressively harder as the night progressed.

Some players already had the skills they needed to master the drills, while others spent a lot of time face-down on the ice.

"You can never get away from the basics," Christie said.

"I don't think there's a person who can do everything perfect."

The clinic seemed to be a big hit with the players and parents. Kaitlynn Mraz, 15, the only girl who participated, is getting ready for the upcoming hockey season with the Brighton High School junior varsity team. " I like how they treat me like an equal, and I like the drills," Mraz said. She says she likes to play hockey because it allows her to take out her aggression on others without getting in too much trouble.

"I'm the oldest and fattest one out there," said Brad Urses, 41, almost boastful. He brought his 11-year old son, Erik, who he coaches part-time. "It's a good warm-up for him, and it's a workout for me," Urses said.

When parents heard the Grizzlies were conducting the clinic, their ears perked up. When they heard it was free, they were eager to show up.

Shari Tatum's 9-year-old son Skylar has been skating since he was three and now plays for the Wasatch Mountain Amateur Hockey Association Junior Grizzlies traveling team. "When we played county rec(reation), it was $300 for a season," Tatum said. "With the travel (team), we usually pay $150 a month."

Ike Murphy said he spent $3,500 on hockey for his son Sean last year.

"That's total — hotel, travel and fees," Murphy said.

However, he does not regret the money he spends, along with many other hockey parents. "Some of the best experiences we've ever had have been with travel hockey," Murphy said.

This clinic was designed to promote the upcoming season for the Grizzlies.

Afterward, many of the players took time to shake hands and thank Christie.

"I had a blast," he said.