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Utah Grizzlies: Cliff Watson named ECHL All-Star

The ECHL on Thursday announced the rosters for the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic, which will be hosted by the Indy Fuel on Monday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. MST, at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Rookie defenseman Cliff Watson will represent the Utah Grizzlies.

The game will air live exclusively on NHL Network prior to the Grizzlies annual Martin Luther King Matinee at 1:30 p.m., against Rapid City.

Watson, who has been loaned to the Vancouver Canucks minor league affiliate in Utica since Dec. 4, had 14 points in 21 games with Utah on six goals and eight assists at the time of his call-up. At the time of his promotion, he was tied for second on the team in goals.

"It is a great accomplishment to be named to the All-Star Team and Cliff is well deserving," said head coach/General Manager Tim Branham. "He has had a tremendous start to his pro career."

The Wisconsin native was drafted by San Jose in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and served two seasons as captain at Michigan Tech where he played four seasons of college hockey. He was also a member of the NCAA All-Academic Team.

For the first time in ECHL history, the All-Star Classic will feature not two, but four teams, representing each of the League’s divisions. In a format similar to those adopted by the NHL and AHL All-Star Games, the four teams will compete in a 3-on-3 tournament in order to crown a winner. The two semifinal matches will be played within the Eastern and Western Conferences, with the East Division taking on the South Division and the Central Division facing the Mountain Division. The 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place after the second semifinal game, with the championship round following immediately at the conclusion of the Skills Competition.

The 2018 rosters feature 27 first-time ECHL All-Star selections, 12 rookies and nine players who have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft.

More than 65 players from the ECHL All-Star Game have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 51 since 2002 when the lineups began having players who coaches felt were prospects to move up to a higher level.

On Friday, the Grizzlies host Rapid City at 7 p.m.