OUTLIERS RETURN FROM POSITIVE WEST COAST TRIP
The Utah Outliers return home to Salt Lake City, UT after a week in which the team picked up 7 of a possible 9 points against the Long Beach Bombers and the Ontario Avalanche. The team went 2-0-1 against some stiff competition. Although Utah let 2 points slip, overall the weekend was a great experience as the Outliers have started to find their groove offensively and put together a full weekend of solid hockey with fewer lapses. As the weekend progressed, the Outliers picked up more and more momentum and continued to improve.
In game one, the Outliers went up against the always-potent Long Beach Bombers, who were sitting atop the Western Division. While Utah dictated a lot of the action in the first period, it was the home team that was able to finish, going up 2-0. Being outshot 13-10, the Bombers were able to showcase their offensive prowess and also why they are always near the top of the standings. Utah picked up the pace in the second, this time outshooting their hosts 19-12, but the opportunistic Bombers scored an early goal pushing their lead to three. After the halfway point in the second, a short handed opportunity by Zach Dornseifer and Kaeden Meuer cut the lead to two, giving Utah some much needed momentum going into the third. Nicholas Ness cut the deficit to one in the final frame before Jan Dvorak made a beautiful play to tie the game with three minutes remaining. As overtime commenced, the Outliers dominated possession time, but could not create the offense they needed. In the dying moments of the overtime, a hardworking play by Artem Korolev led to the winning wraparound goal. Oscar Wahlgren compiled 34 saves in the loss while Dominic Bosetti earned 45 saves in the win.
In the rematch, Long Beach started out strong yet again, scoring an early power play goal just over two minutes into the game. After the goal, Utah would not relent as they put on the pressure, eventually scoring on Ness’s second goal of the weekend with just 20 seconds remaining in the first. The Outliers only gave up 4 shots in the first period, while adding 10 of their own. In the second frame, A perfect face off play led to a Dvorak goal, which gave Utah their first lead of the weekend. The home team responded and tied the game, but early in the final period Dvorak struck once again, giving the visiting team their second lead of the game. Anthony Masanotti added the insurance goal and doubling Utah’s lead, and also put in an empty netter for good measure, giving the Outliers a 5-2 victory. Wahlgren once again was in net, earning a 26 save win, while Bosetti had a great game of his own with 37 saves in the loss.
After picking up 4 of a possible 6 points from first place Long Beach, Utah travelled to Ontario to take on the Avalanche. Riding their momentum from the previous two games, Utah flexed their muscles and took the lead courtesy of Captain Dornseifer. The Avalanche took advantage of a defensive breakdown and tied the game, but that would be all the offense they could muster as the period ended 1-1 with Utah owning the shot advantage 12-4. In the second period, Utah’s sticks came alive as Masanotti scored two minutes in, followed by a highlight reel goal from Mikey Power. Meuer doubled the lead and gave Utah some comfort. Once again, the defense of the Outliers stifled the Avalanche offense, only allowing 5 shots. The final frame of the week was all Utah with the away team outshooting Ontario 18-3 and adding two more goals. Benji Mickel was rewarded for his great game by capitalizing on one of his many shots, and Masanotti added his 4th of the weekend to end the scoring and secure the 6-1 win for Utah. Goaltender Jack Walsh picked up 11 saves to earn his 5th win in a row this season, and giving the Outliers some much needed spark as they draw closer to the WSHL showcase.
Utah returns home this weekend to the Acord Ice Arena as they welcome in former division rivals and the always-dangerous Colorado Jr. Eagles for a three game series. After this set, Utah plays Ogden once before heading to Las Vegas, NV for the showcase. Make sure to stay tuned for more information this week about the team as well as more information about the first half of the season. Game one puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM.