Outliers clinch first place in regular season

by Website Admin

The Utah Outliers played a three-game set this past weekend and were victorious in two of their three games. The two wins helped the club secure first place in the Mountain Division which earned them home ice for the Mountain Division playoffs. 

Friday, February 18, Outliers 1 vs. Mustangs 4

The Outliers headed to the Ice Sheet on Friday to play their in-state rival the Ogden Mustangs for a heavyweight clash. 

The game started poorly for Utah as just 20 seconds into the contest, the Mustangs scored to take an early 1-0 lead. The Outliers lost a defensive zone face-off and the puck found its way to an Ogden defenseman who took a shot from the point, which was then tipped in front of the net past Utah goaltender Lucas Brine. 

Like they have done many times this season, Utah answered back quickly with a goal of their own just minutes later to even the score at 1-1. While playing in their defensive zone, Nick Urtis chipped the puck past the Mustangs' defender to send him on a quick rush attack into the Mustangs' zone. Entering the Ogden zone down the right side of the ice, Urtis released a laser shot top corner on the short side of the net past a stunned Ogden netminder. 

After scoring their first goal of the game, Utah began to pick up their play and put the pressure on Ogden. The Outliers controlled much of the play in Ogden's zone for the rest of the first period. Despite generating some high-quality scoring chances, Utah couldn't find the back of the net to take the lead. The first period drew to an end with the game tied at 1-1. 

The second period started similarly to the first period with the Outliers allowing another goal during the first minute of action. This time it was a shorthanded goal that cost Utah as they turned the puck over in the neutral zone and gave Ogden a breakaway which they converted for a 2-1 lead. 

Things would not get any better for the Outliers in the second period as Ogden made it 3-1 at the 11:05 mark and then added a fourth goal just a minute later to stretch their lead to 4-1. 

The third period was played without any scoring by either team and the Outliers fell to the Mustangs by a score of 4-1. 

Utah goaltender Lucas Brine made 33 saves on the night while the Outliers manufactured 34 shots on the Ogden net. 

Sunday, February 20, Outliers 2 vs. Mustangs 1

Utah and Ogden were back at it two days later and this time the battle was played at the Acord Ice Center at noon. The Outliers were determined to get back into the win column and avenge their loss to Ogden on Friday.

The first-period action had the Outliers pressing hard for the first goal of the game and controlling the early play in the Mustangs' zone. Utah generated several good scoring chances, but the Mustangs' goaltender was up to the challenge and shut the door on numerous occasions.

At the other end of the ice, Utah goaltender Garrett Alderman was just as sharp as he stepped up his play to make several key saves to keep Ogden off the board. At the end first, both teams went into the locker room tied at 0-0. 

In the second period, Utah came out flying and pushing the pace as the aggressor. Utah's persistent pressure led to forward Parker Williams entering the Mustangs' zone off the rush. Williams attempted a pass to defenseman Helvis Rudzajs joining the rush, but it was deflected off Rudzajs stick into the corner. The 6' 7" defenseman showed great determination to win the puck back from an Ogden defender, taking it to the net where he passed it to a wide-open Williams on the backdoor. This play would break the scoreless tie and give Utah a 1-0 lead at 13:36 of the second period. 

A few minutes later at 11:26, the Outliers extended their lead to 2-0 when they converted on the powerplay. Utah won an offensive zone face-off and defenseman Jakub Suran made a perfect pass to Will Cohen who skated to the net and blasted his shot from the top of the circle past a screened Mustangs goalie for a 2-0 lead.

The Mustangs charged back with a powerplay goal of their own at the 7:48 mark. Ogden moved the puck around the Outliers zone and set up a play for a shot from high in the zone that beat Alderman on the blocker side to make it 2-1. 

The third period played out as it did in the previous game on Friday, with neither club scoring in the third period. Utah held its 2-1 lead for the rest of the game and locked in the victory. 

Garrett Alderman was rock solid in net for Utah all game stopping 37 shots to bring home the win for his club. Utah fired 35 shots at Ogden's net in this game.

February 21, Outliers 8 vs. Riverblades 3

On Monday, the Outliers played host to the Provo Riverblades for a matinee game on Presidents Day. Utah was looking to finish off their three-game set with another win and build on their momentum from the previous day. 

This game started slowly with both teams struggling to find their rhythm and playing very controlled. The Riverblades were set on playing a trap-style type of game against Utah and it took the home team a while to bust through it.

Eventually, Utah would break the game open with the first goal of the day when they created a neutral zone turnover that created a 2v1 counterattack. Forward Parker Williams stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke into the Provo zone with linemate Nikolas Schwab. While attacking the Riverblades net, Williams made a nice fake pass to Schwab but kept the puck and blasted his shot into the top corner of the net for a 1-0 Utah lead. 

In the second period, the Outliers came out very aggressive and determined to take the game over. The team ramped up its offensive assault by scoring five straight goals to take a commanding 6-0 lead into the intermission. They outshot the Riverblades 25-3 in the period. 

The goal-scoring fury started with an intense forecheck by Noah Bourassa to set up Utah's second goal. Bourassa won a race for the puck in the Riverblades zone and centered his pass to Nick Obourn in the slot. Obourn quickly released his shot through the goalkeeper's legs. The third Outliers' goal came off the stick of Matt Koepke who created a turnover in the neutral zone and skated into the Provo zone and ripped his shot 'top shelf.'  The club's fourth goal was scored off a net-front rebound by newly acquired Carl Jonnson-Edfast. Utah earned its fifth goal from defenseman Magnus Einarson who drilled his shot from the high slot past the Mustangs goalie. The home team finished off their scoring blitz with Parkers William's second goal of the game on the powerplay. 

In the third period, the Outliers added two more goals to give them eight goals for the game. Matt Koepke and Leyton Pettypiece were the goal scorers for Utah. The Riverblades answered with three goals of their own in the final frame, but the Outliers skated off the ice with an 8-3 victory. 

Lucas Brine played between the pipes for the Outliers stopping 15 shots for the win. Utah manufactured 45 shots for the game. 

The Outliers are back at home next weekend (Friday & Sunday) for a pair of games against the Northern Colorado Eagles. This will be the final two home games of the regular season for Utah before hosting the playoffs March 11-13, 2022. 

Friday's game will begin at 7 pm and Sunday at noon. Both games will be played at the Acord Ice Center. Fans can also catch the games broadcasted via live streaming on HockeyTV.com