Outliers Sweep OKC
The Utah Outliers had a big weekend versus the Oklahoma City Blazers as they completed a three-game sweep. The outliers won by the scores of 5-2, 2-0 and 6-5 in OT. The Outliers have yet to lose a game in regulation in 2020 and look to continue their momentum as they head down the stretch towards playoffs.
In Friday's game, the Outliers opened the scoring early at 2:17 into the game when Xavier Erickson poked a puck past the Blazers defenseman at the blueline and sprung Utah for a two-on-one rush. Miroslav Hradecky skated down the left-wing and ripped a shot past Blazers goalie Danick Francour to make it 1-0. However, the Blazers would come back with two goals of their own to give the home team a 2-1 advantage after one period of play.
The Blazers continued to hold a 2-1 lead for much of the second period, before Andrei Shmakov found the back of the net to tie things back up at 2-2, with just under three minutes left in the frame. Utah continued the momentum into the third period, as Xavier Erickson put the Outliers back into the lead just 2:02 into the final period.
Taking advantage of an ill-timed penalty, Tristan Slot extended the Outliers lead to a 4-2 score. A minute later, a broken play in front of Francoeur forced him out of position, and the puck found itself sitting in the blue paint for an easy tap-in by Erickson, sealing the 5-2 win by the Outliers.
The teams returned to the ice Saturday night for another fast-paced night of action. The Game was highlighted by solid goaltending by both teams as Outliers Oscar Wahlgren and Danick Francour stood tall for their respective teams. The Outliers would once again open the scoring when Andrei Shmakov converted on a chance at the net to give the Outliers a 1-0 lead after the first period.
In the second period, both teams continued to push the pace and generate scoring chances but were stymied by some terrific saves by the goaltenders. The Outliers finally broke open the scoring in the second period when a turnover created a 2-0 breakaway and Jett Arminen slid a backdoor pass to newly acquired Nash Hatcher to make it 2-0 for the Outliers.
The third period saw no scoring and once again goaltender Oscar Wahlgren shut the door on the Blazers. The Outliers goaltender recorded another shutout making one big save after another. Wahlgren currently leads the WSHL in goaltender shutouts.
Sunday's contest turned into an offensive explosion with the Outliers winning 6-5 in OT. Both teams demonstrated their offensive firepower and took advantage of their opportunities. During the sixty minutes of regulation, the Outliers saw goals from Nikita Andrusenko, Andrei Shmakov, Nash Hatcher and two goals from Xavier Erickson. In OT it was defenseman Helvis Rudzajs who stole a puck off a miscue by the Blazers goalie and skated around the net for a wrap-around that sealed the victory and the sweep for the Outliers. Oscar Wahlgren finished the game with 24 saves.
The Outliers will now have a bye weekend and then prepare to hit the road again as they take on Northwest Division opponent, the Southern Oregon Spartans February 14-16. Be sure to catch all the games on Black Dog TV.