Second-year pro Higby embracing role with Grizzlies
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Erik Higby joined the Utah Grizzlies this season not knowing how he would fit in with the ECHL franchise.
Those uncertainties were snuffed out rather quickly and the second-year pro out of New Braunfels, Tex., is reaping the rewards playing for the Grizzlies and “the unreal facilities” at the Maverik Center.
“I think the season has gone well so far,” said the 26-year-old Higby, who played from 2010-14 at Northern Michigan University (CCHA until 2013, WCHA from 2013-14) and grew up in the Detroit area. “We’re a very high-scoring team and our confidence keeps growing. The fan base here is incredible and this is definitely one of the better places I’ve ever played.”
Higby played for the Alaska Aces during an injury-troubled 2013-14 season, but said going on road trips to West Valley City was a treat and helped acclimate him to the area.
“(Current Utah teammate) Ryan Walters knew what my situation was and gave me a call and said to come take a look at the Grizzlies,” explained Higby. “He also talked to (Grizzlies coach-GM) Tim Branham about me and everything pretty much fell into place. The lineup we have here is so deep that when we have a player get an AHL call-up, guys just step up and fill roles. We’re all on the same page and we all want the same thing.”
As of mid-January, Utah was leading the West Division, but with the second half of the season in full swing, making a run for the Kelly Cup Playoffs is first and foremost on Higby’s mind.
“It’s always a lot easier to play this game when you’re having fun,” said Higby. “I wanted to go back home to Michigan and play there this season, but when that didn’t work out, I just wanted to find the right fit and I found that here in Utah. I really like it here and we still have a lot of season left, but I’d definitely consider jumping on it and playing here next season if I got the opportunity.”
— Matt Mackinder