New year, another win
The Utah Outliers returned to action and began 2020 on the right foot by defeating the Ogden Mustangs 3-1. This was the Outliers' first game since returning from their Christmas break and they made the most out of it. Although the team had some key injuries heading into the game and was missing its top scorer, Ben Dhoerty (who was called up to the NAHL, Odessa Jackalopes), the group responded positively with a gutsy team effort.
The game began with lots of back-and-forth action and both teams trying to assert themselves early in the contest. The Outliers and Mustangs defense played tough in the defensive zone limiting both teams to just a few quality chances per side. When either team did generate a quality scoring chance the goaltenders were there to make the save and hold the fort to keep the game scoreless after the first period.
The second period began much like the first with both teams trying to secure some offensive play and fight through the intense checking pressure. The Outliers finally broke the game open when Miroslav Hradecky chased down a loose puck in the offensive zone and drove wide around a Mustang defender to make a beautiful low shot that beat the Mustangs goaltender to the far side of the net. Later in the period, the Outliers struck again as Jett Arminen broke loose on a two-on-one and ripped a shot under the bar to light the lamp and give the Outliers a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
The third period saw the Mustangs show some urgency as they poured on the offensive pressure hoping to find their first goal of the night. Goaltender, Oskar Wahlgren was up for the task and stood his ground making some terrific saves to keep the Mustangs off the scoreboard. A defensive zone face-off created a break for the Outliers, as it led to another two-on-one opportunity and Xavier Erickson broke down the left side of the ice and released a quick shot through the legs of the Mustangs' goalie. This increased the Outliers' lead to 3-0. Erickson, who had just returned to the team from an extended injury, made a big offensive impact in his first game back to the team.
Shortly thereafter, the Mustangs came charging back and controlled the puck in the Outliers' zone for an extended sequence. Eventually, with the Outliers unable to clear the zone, the Mustangs pounced on a loose puck at the front of the net and buried it past goaltender Oskar Wahlgren to make the game 3-1. Although the Mustangs tried to generate some more offense and close the lead, the Outliers played tough defense and shut the door the rest of the game giving them the victory.
The Outliers will now hit the road and play their division rival, the Bellingham Blazers this weekend. This will be the first time these two teams meet this season. The Outliers currently sit in second place in the Northwest Division while the Blazers find themselves in fourth place. Make sure to catch all the games this weekend on Black Dog hockey!