Game 2 NOCO: Outliers Mountain Division Champs again!
The Utah Outliers are back-to-back Mountain Division Champions! Utah defeated the Northern Colorado Eagles by a score of 3-0 and will advance to the USPHL National Championship in New Hampshire March 24-29.
It was the second series in a row where Utah was able to defeat their opponent in two straight games to earn the series sweep. The team has been on a mission all season long and they continued their success with four hard-fought playoff victories and being crowned Mountain Division champs.
Game two of the series brought a lot of excitement and anticipation. With a sell-out crowd of energetic towel-waving fans, the Outliers were determined to capture the win and celebrate on home ice for one last time this season.
Utah would call upon goaltender Lucas Brine to start game two of the series and shut the door for his club while the Eagles would once again look to Charles-Anthony Barbeau to backstop their club. Goaltending would once again prove to be a big factor in this contest with both goaltenders making some terrific saves over the course of the night.
In the early stanza of the first period, Utah came out fast and furious and brought a lot of pressure towards the Northern Colorado net, putting the visitors on their heels. With crisp passing, high tempo skating, and an intense forecheck, the Outliers dominated zone time early, but the Eagles netminder came up with some big saves on a number of occasions to keep Utah off the board.
Penalties would eventually slow down Utah's attack as they were assessed a minor penalty for too many men on the ice followed by a boarding penalty to Nick Obourn. Fortunately for the home team, the penalty kill was up to the task, and shut the door on the Eagles' power play to keep the score tied at 0-0 heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, Utah wasted no time getting on the scoreboard to take a 1-0 lead when Will Cohen broke the scoreless tie at the 18:57 mark. This opening tally would give the Outliers the much-needed first goal of the night and energize the club.
While defending in his own zone, Cohen would challenge an Eagles defender at the blue line who attempted a point shot. Cohen blocked the shooting lane and the puck took a ricochet off his shin pads to send him off on a breakaway down the left sideboards. Cohen broke free from the Eagles' defenders who were in hot pursuit and skated in all alone on the Northern Colorado goaltender where he skillfully deposited the puck over Barbeau's right pad.
At the 15:40 mark, Utah added to its lead to make it 2-0 when they scored off a fast breakout that led to an offensive zone attack and eventually a scramble around the Eagles' net where the puck eventually found its way past Barbeau.
Matthew Koepke skated out from behind his net and passed the puck up the right side of the ice to Nick Obourn skating through the neutral zone. Obourn collected the Koepke pass and then quickly zipped the puck across the ice to a breaking Nick Urtis who entered the Eagles' zone and took a shot on the net that went off the face mask of Barbeau. With the rebound sitting at the Eagles net-front, the puck slid across the crease in a scramble and Jonsson-Edfast was the beneficiary of the loose puck and tapped it into the open cage.
Utah was not finished with their second-period scoring as they added another goal to extend their lead to 3-0 with 6:15 remaining in the period. Defenseman Kai Stothers would gather the puck in the neutral zone and make a quick-up pass to Noah Bourassa at the Eagles' blue line. Upon receiving the pass, Bourassa would get pressured by a Northern Colorado defender and then touch pass the puck over to teammate Miles McCue entering the zone on the right side boards. Mccue gathered possession of the puck and broke loose to skate in on Barbeau where he made a brilliant top-shelf shot to beat the netminder cleanly over his glove side.
Entering the third period, the Outliers were in full control of the game and the group was hungry to close out the final twenty minutes and clinch the series. Penalty trouble put Utah on the penalty kill for various stretches in the final frame and offered the Eagles a chance to get back into the game. Fortunately for Utah, Goaltender Lucas Brine was more than ready for the challenge and slammed the door on the Eagle's offense as he was tested on a number of Northern Colorado powerplay chances. Brine would finish the game making 26 saves and earn the shutout for his club.
As the clock wound down, the capacity crowd rose to their feet to give the Outliers a standing ovation and celebrate the home team's 3-0 victory and second consecutive Mountain Division title.
The three stars of the night belonged to #1 Lucas Brine #2 Will Cohen #3 Miles Mccue.