Outliers beat Bulls
The Utah Outliers played host to the Pueblo Bulls on Saturday night at the Acord Ice Center and skated away with a 7-1 victory. It was a dominating performance by the home team with five different players recording goals for Utah.
This was the first meeting between Utah and Pueblo for the 2022-23 season. The Outliers held a distinct advantage over the Bulls last year during the regular season, winning 8 of 11 games against their Colorado counterpart. The only three losses Utah suffered against Pueblo all came in overtime. The Outliers also wound up eliminating the Bulls in last year's Mountain division playoffs, defeating Pueblo two games to zero and earning themselves a sweep in that playoff series.
Utah was determined to hold its momentum against the Bulls this season and from the drop of the puck, the Outliers asserted themselves by playing its signature high-tempo brand of hockey. The club's offense proved to be on full display in this game as the group demonstrated some excellent puck movement on their breakouts and with their rush attacks through the neutral zone that led to offensive zone pressure in the Bulls' end of the ice.
Utah forward Paul Waldhauser opened up the scoring for the home team at 9:19 of the first period when he converted on a shot high in the Bulls' zone that beat Pueblo goalie Alex Timmons low to the blocker side. The play began with a breakout from the Outliers' zone as defenseman, Matthew Koepke skated the puck into the Bulls' zone and set up Utah's offense. The offensive rush resulted in an attack at the Pueblo net that was turned away by the Bulls' goaltender, but the puck was recovered by the Outliers and passed back to the point and onto the stick of Utah defenseman Seth Stock. While controlling the puck on the Pueblo blue line, Stock fed a pass to Waldhauser who found space high in the zone and fired a one-timer past the Pueblo netminder for a 1-0 Utah lead.
Utah continued to show its high-octane offense and press in the Bulls' zone producing several quality shots on goal but these opportunities were denied by Pueblo netminder Timmons. The first period concluded with Utah heading to the locker room with a 1-0 lead and carrying much of the play. Utah outshot the Bulls 12-6 and limited Pueblo's shots to primarily perimeter attempts. When Utah did give up a scoring chance, goaltender Marco Felicetti stood tall and shut the door for his team.
In the second period, Utah came out hard and skating with a fast pace as they stormed the Bulls' net with a flurry of shot attempts. The home team showed off its relentless forecheck and speed which created many turnovers that led to some high-danger scoring chances. Utah's offensive momentum and zone time hemmed the Bulls in their end which resulted in the visitors taking a penalty and putting the Outliers on the power play.
It wouldn't take the Outliers long to take advantage of its power play opportunity as they worked the puck around the offensive zone and set up plays. The power play unit threaded some crisp passes together to break down the Pueblo defense and set up Utah defenseman Magnus Einarson for a shot from the point that created a rebound at the Bull's net. The rebound would be recovered by Utah's Leyton Pettypiece who banged away at the puck and drove it across the goal line to give the Outliers a 2-0 lead at 11:33 of the second period.
Utah converted its third goal of the game when it won a defensive zone face-off and started an attack while playing 4-on-4 hockey. Matthew Koepke captured the puck off the face-off and rushed up the ice past a pinching Pueblo defender. Breaking through the neutral zone, Koepke executed a nifty cross-ice pass to a streaking Will Cohen who skated into the Pueblo zone uncontested and blasted a shot past the low glove of the Bull's netminder to give the Outliers a 3-0 lead.
Before the second period ended, the Bulls narrowed the Outlier's lead to 3-1 as they capitalized on a Utah turnover. With the Outliers controlling the puck in the Pueblo zone, the home team made an errant pass that would land on the stick of their opponent and send them on a two-on-one odd-man rush. The Bulls made no mistake on the opportunity and blasted a shot over the glove side of Utah netminder Felicetti to give the visitors some much-needed momentum. The period would wind down with the Outliers outshooting Pueblo by a margin of 18-6 in the second frame.
In the third period, the floodgates opened for Utah as they scored four unanswered goals. With just over two minutes of action played in the final period, Will Cohen collected a loose puck off an offensive zone draw and drove to the net where he released a rocket past the stick of Pueblo goalie Alex Timmons to put Utah up by a score of 4-1. A couple of minutes later, it was the Outliers' power play going back to work and capitalizing for its fifth goal of the contest. Utah forward, Miles McCue set up the attack in the Bulls' zone and threw a slick cross-ice pass through the Bulls' defense and onto the stick of teammate Emrik Froding sitting on the backdoor. Froding buried the puck quickly as he fired a one-timer shot off the pass into the back of the net. Utah's sixth goal of the game once again came off the stick of Will Cohen as he converted his shot on another Utah power play to give him the much-deserved hat trick on the evening. The final goal of the game highlighted the skills of Miles McCue who gained control of a deep flip pass from defenseman Matthew Koepke that ended up reaching the Pueblo zone. Upon gaining control of the flipped puck, McCue made a slippery move past a Bulls' defender and skated in all alone on the Pueblo netminder, and buried his shot for a 7-1 Outliers victory.
Utah ended the game outshooting the Bulls 41-17 and scoring three power-play goals. The team once again demonstrated its stingy defense and remains perfect on the penalty kill having fought off all short-handed situations.
The Outliers' three stars of the night belonged to #1 Will Cohen, #2, Matthew Koepke, and #3 Magnus Einarson. Utah will be back in action October 21-23 when they travel to Pueblo to take on the Bulls for a weekend series. All three games will be live broadcast on HockeyTV.com.