Outliers Clip Eagles
The Utah Outliers continued their successful season this past weekend as they hosted the Northern Colorado Eagles for a matinee game at the Acord Ice Center. Coming into the game, Utah sat in first place in the Mountain Division while the Northern Colorado Eagles were positioned in third place but hot on the tail of the second place Ogden Mustangs.
The Outliers have added some new and familiar faces to the team's lineup this week. The team acquired netminder Lucas Brine, Forward Kyle Muhr, and defenseman Luke Clarke. The team also welcomed back Nick Urtis who had been playing with the Minot Minotauros of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
In the first period of Sunday's game, Utah started the afternoon fast and furious scoring a goal just four minutes into the contest. Defenseman, Magnus Einarson would help the Outliers out of their zone with a nifty breakout pass to Nick Urtis who broke up the ice on a 2 on 1 rush with teammate Paul Wauldhauser. Urtis crossed the offensive blue line and pulled the Eagles defenseman towards him, making a nice backdoor pass to Wauldhauser for the tap in goal and a 1-0 Utah lead.
Midway through the period it was the Outliers again adding to their lead when they established an aggressive forecheck and passed the puck up to the point to defenseman Kai Stothers. After receiving the pass, Stothers quickly released a low shot towards the Eagles net that was tipped in by the stick of Will Cohen. The Outliers went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.
The second period started with Northern Colorado putting the pressure on the Outliers. This time it was the Eagles who would establish a strong forecheck early in the frame and put Utah on its heels. The aggressive forecheck would eventually pay off for the visiting team as they won a puck battle down low in the Outliers’ zone and then made a centering pass to the front of Utah's net where an Eagle player blasted a shot past Lucas Brine to narrow the Utah lead to 2-1.
The Outliers eventually found their rhythm later in the period and started controlling the play in the Eagles’ zone. Utah generated some good scoring chances, but the Eagles’ goaltender was up to the task to keep his team in the game. It would take the final minute of the period for Utah to get its third goal of the game and be rewarded for their hard work.
Nick Urtis gained control of the puck in his own zone and burst into the neutral zone for a 3 on 2 offensive rush. Carrying the puck through the middle of the ice in the neutral zone, Urtis passed the puck wide to teammate Matt Kreczman skating down the right side of the ice. Kreczman collected the wide pass and entered the Eagles’ zone and made a hard cut to the middle of the ice where he passed to Leyton Pettypiece on the far left side of the zone. Pettypiece handled the pass from Kreczman and put the puck towards the net where it deflected off an Eagles’ defender and passed their goaltender for a 3-1 Utah lead. The Outliers headed to the locker room in full control of the game.
The final period of the game had a lot of back-and-forth action but both goaltenders stood tall for their respective teams and made some big saves at both ends of the ice. Late in the third period, the Eagles pulled their goalie for the extra attacker in hopes of getting on the board, but it was to no avail as the Utah defense played hard to preserve the 3-1 victory.
Utah goaltender Lucas Brine picked up his first junior hockey victory with a 26 save performance.
The Outliers are back at home on Sunday, February 20th as they play host to the Ogden Mustangs at noon at the Acord Ice Center. The game will be streamed live on HockeyTV.com.