Outliers in first place after sweep of Coyotes
The Utah Outliers are back in first place in the Mountain Division after sweeping the Casper Coyotes. The Outliers travelled to Casper for a three-game series against the Coyotes, and came home with three more crucial wins. The sweep has placed the Outliers back in the driver seat of the Mountain Division, as the team shares first place with the Ogden Mustangs at 71 points each. The Outliers still have three games in hand on Ogden, giving them a slight edge in the final home stretch for first. The Colorado Junior Eagles are right on both Utah and Ogden’s heels with 68 points of their own.
On Friday night, the Outliers came out flying, scoring 4 goals in the first frame. Kane Toriumi started the barrage, followed by Zach Dornseifer, Dylan Massie, and Brandon Krumpschmid. Utah added 3 more goals in the second period courtesy of newcomer Mattias Wikstrom, as well as Toriumi and Massie’s second goals of the night. The third period was relatively quiet, as goalies on both sides turned away chances from the opposition. It wasn’t until time was expiring that newcomer Erik Safstrom made his presence felt, scoring a beautiful breakaway as the buzzer sounded to end the game. Massie and Krumpschmid led the scoring for Utah with 4 points (2-2) and (1-3) respectively. Dawson Rodin collected his 6th shutout on the season and picked up 24 saves in the win.
Saturday’s contest yielded a similar final score, however the game was played much closer. Chances were produced by both teams, however only Utah was able to capitalize as Jacob Wanstrom and Alex Crilley put the Outliers up 2-0 in the first before another buzzerbeater was scored, this time by Dornseifer. The three-goal lead came even though Casper outshot Utah 11-9. The second period was also fairly close in shots, with the Outliers edging the Coyotes 16-12. Just as it was in the first period, the Outliers were able to put three more in the net. Krumpschmid added his second goal in as many nights, and then Benji Mickel scored back-to-back goals to close out the middle frame. In the third, Mickel finished off the natural hattrick. Although Utah put up 18 shots, the Mickel tally would be the only puck to get past Casper in the third. The Coyotes were also rewarded for fighting until the very end, and with just 30 seconds left in the game, Eliot Bergbauer managed to put one past Rodin and earn the Coyotes their first goal of the weekend. Rodin went on to earn 35 saves in his winning effort.
The final meeting this season between these teams once again was favored heavily towards the visiting team. In the first period of Sunday’s game, the new acquisitions Wikstrom and Safstrom earned their stripes with the Outliers, each collecting two goals apiece. Safstrom scored back-to-back goals before Wikstrom would do the same. The four-goal lead from the first helped push Utah into the second with momentum. Jan Pixa ignited an onslaught in the second period, followed by goals from both Wanstrom and Massie. Casper would not go lying down, and halfway into the second Cameron Cross found a puck that would put the home team on the board. Utah responded just a minute later off a Krumpschmid goal, and would tack on another late in the second thanks to Pixa’s second of the game. Pixa went on to complete his hattrick late in the third, and new goaltender Cedric Lesieur gathered 27 saves to pick up his first win in an Outlier jersey.
Utah now has six games remaining in the regular season. Next weekend is the biggest of the season as the Outliers welcome the Colorado Jr. Eagles to the Acord Ice Arena for a three game set. Being so close in points, every win counts, and with 6 points up for grabs, this weekend has huge playoff implications. Game one puck drop is scheduled for Friday at 7:05 PM. Sunday is slated for 12:05 PM, also at the Acord.
Saturday is a special game, as the Outliers will host the Eagles at the Maverick Center in West Valley, the home of the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. The game will start at 2:45 PM, just hours before the Grizzlies take on the Wichita Thunder at 7:00 PM. Come out and get a double feature of hockey this Saturday as two Utah teams face off in non-stop action.