OUTLIERS BEGIN NEW YEAR WITH A SWEEP
The Utah Outliers returned to action this past weekend for their first home stand of the new year against the Mountain Division Casper Bobcats. The second half of the season started just as Utah had hoped, as the home team was able to pick up three wins by a combined score of 17-5. Casper put up a good battle for a majority of the weekend; however, the Outliers would not be stopped as they showcased a strong ability to score in bursts. The first series back is a positive sign for a team that is looking to make a deep playoff run.
In the first game of the weekend, Utah came out firing, but to no avail. Hammering their opponents with 20 shots while only allowing 3 against, the Outliers were unable to convert and find a way to get on the scoreboard. The streaky scoring took a big turn in the second as once again the Outliers put up 20 shots, only this time capitalized on 4 goals. Halfway through the second, Miroslav Hradecky gave the home team the lead. Just twenty seconds later, Benji Mickel doubled the lead. Mickel would also go on to add the fourth goal for Utah just minutes after Alex Charin extended the lead. Going into the third frame, the ice was tilted completely in Utah’s favor from the previous two periods, however Casper was able to put one on the board thanks to a power play. Not to be outdone in the last period, Nick Ness added one final tally to help give Utah the 5-1 win. Jack Walsh earned 18 saves in the win.
Game two was played out almost identical to the previous game, as once again the Outliers peppered the Bobcat’s net with 19 shots, but with no result to show for it. Also like game one, the second period was a different story as Utah found the back of the net 6 times. Captain Zach Dornseifer started the barrage for the boys in black just two minutes in. Anthony Masanotti scored his first of two on the evening, followed by a blast courtesy of Ryley Bast. Just thirty seconds after Bast’s goal, Hradecky earned his second goal in as many games, before Masanotti delivered his second with just under one minute left in the period. The dominant second period was due in part to Utah dictating the play and controlling the game all over the ice, outshooting the Bobcats 21-1. The third period was also played out with Utah in control, however even with a 15-5 shot advantage the score in the third was one to one. Matt Bartel scored the Outliers final goal seven minutes in, but Casper would answer in the final minutes of the game. Oscar Wahlgren picked up his 13 win of the season.
The final game of the series was a much tighter contest as numerous characteristics that Utah had dominated in the previous two games was not as visible. The shot advantage favored the Outliers, but only by a 11-9 margin. Mickel gave the home team a lead on a beautiful power play strike, however a Bobcat power play evened things at 1. Bartel scored on a short handed breakaway to regain Utah’s lead, but once again a pesky Bobcat attack once again evened the game with just fifty seconds remaining in the period. In the second frame, it was Casper who was able to take some control thanks to a string of 7consecutive penalties to the Outliers. Spending a good deal of time in the box, Casper was able to take their first lead of the weekend and also keep the shot count close (13-11 UT advantage). Utah returned to form in the final frame, taking back control (13-4 shot advantage) and scoring three goals. Mickel kept his hot stick active, adding his second of the game. Halfway through the final period, a great escape by Mickel allowed him to find Bartel for his second goal of the game. Minutes later, Mickel capped off his solid game and weekend by tallying his hattrick goal and sealing the win and sweep for the home team. Walsh once again picked up the victory, giving him an impressive 7-1-0-0 record on the year.
The Outliers will hit the road next weekend as they make the trek to Cheyenne, WY to take on Mountain Division opponents the Cheyenne Stampede. Both Friday and Saturday night’s games are scheduled for 7:35 PM and Sunday is slated to begin at 1:00 PM. Make sure to stay tuned for more information as the Outliers continue the second half of the season in their pursuit of the Thorne Cup Championship!