OUTLIERS RETURN TO FORM IN STEAMBOAT
The Utah Outliers returned back to their winning ways this past weekend. For the third time in as many meetings, the Outliers faced off against the Steamboat Wranglers, and for the third time came away with a sweep. Utah came into the series looking to build and improve as playoffs near, and accomplished just that. Over the weekend, Utah showed dominance all over the ice. The team scored in a numerous amount of ways, and also played great defense while not relenting offensively. The Outliers outscored the Wranglers by a combined 33-5 during the set. A big takeaway was just how many of the visiting team members chipped in with scoring. 13 different Outliers showed up on the scoring sheet, and nearly every player on the roster collected multiple points.
In game one of the series, Utah set the tone early, peppering 20 shots on net. Nicholas Ness came away with the lone goal in the first, but the first period was a solid start to what would be a terrific weekend. In the second frame, Bradley Green doubled Utah’s lead, but Steamboat responded with what would be their only goal of the game. Jan Dvorak scored a power play strike to regain the two-goal lead, followed fifteen seconds later courtesy of Matt Bartel. Alex Charin kept the scoring barrage going just one minute later, and Anthony Masanotti concluded the second period scoring with five minutes remaining in the second. The third period continued to be all Utah as they added 3 more goals while also only allowing 2 shots. Ness scored his second of the game on a powerplay, followed by Philip Magni on a short-handed break. Kaeden Meuer concluded the scoring for the game, giving the Outliers a decisive 9-1 victory. Charles-Olivier Lepage earned 17 saves in the win.
Game two saw the Outlier’s offense continue to roll, as the team collected 6 goals in the first period. Dvorak, Meuer, and Austin Heinrich scored all in the first ten minutes of action. Late in the period, with just 3 minutes remaining, Miroslav Hradecky added his first of the weekend before the Wranglers added one of their own. In the final minute, Benji Mickel scored, followed by Alex Charin with just 12 seconds left. Steamboat showed resolve in the second and managed to score in the first minute of play. Fortunately for the Outliers, this would be the last blemish as the team rallied off five more goals on the night. New acquisition Bryan Watters netted his first, followed by another Ness tally. In the third, Hradecky went on to add his second goal before Ness did the same. With just 0.8 seconds left, Meuer once again concluded scoring for Utah and gave the visitors an 11-2 win. Oscar Wahlgren earned 14 saves in the victory.
The final game was a well-balanced attack throughout, as Utah rattled off 4 goals in the first, 4 in the second, and 5 in the third. Only six different Outliers scored in the final game. Ness led the way with 4 goals, Watters earned a hattrick, Dvorak and Zach Dornseifer each potted a pair, while Niklas Lejon and Mickel contributed one each. With his impressive weekend, Ness broke the franchise record of 31 goals in the regular season, and currently sits at 33. Dornseifer with his impressive 2 goal / 9 assist weekend now sits tied for 1st all time in goals scored and is only 2 assists shy of breaking the all time assist record.
The Outliers return to practice this week in preparation for their last regular season road game of the season against the Casper Coyotes. The Coyotes are already slated in at the number three spot in the division, and will be the first round opponents for the Outliers in the second round of the playoffs. The upcoming series will be a preview of things to come as these two teams will look to size one another up before duking it out just two weeks later. Stay tuned for more information as the regular season draws to a close.