Outliers defeat Mustangs
New season, same rivalry. The Utah Outliers welcomed back the battle of I-15 last night as they got reacquainted with their Utah rivals, the Ogden Mustangs. It was the first meeting between the two clubs for the 2020-21 season and it once again was a tight-checking, physical contest with the Outliers prevailing 3-2.
The Outliers who had not played for a week got off to a quick start controlling much of the pace and offense early in the game. The team's effort would be rewarded just over eight minutes into the first period when Outliers forward Brett Morich won an offensive zone face-off that came back to defenseman Micky Vignoli who rifled a top corner shot over the shoulder of Ogden goaltender Domagoj Troha to make it 1-0.
It didn't take the Outliers long to add to their lead as two minutes later they struck again to give the club a 2-0 lead. Outliers forward Trent Gephart won a loose puck in the team's defensive zone and skated the puck up the ice on a rush where he found teammate Alex Charin streaking down the left side of the ice. Upon receiving the pass, Charin drove wide into the Mustangs zone where he passed to Gephart driving to the net. Gephart collected the pass from Charin and made a nifty move as he broke all alone on the Mustangs goalie Troha, finishing the play with another top-shelf goal over the glove of Troha.
The Mustangs battled back with a goal of their own when the Outliers Brett Morich was sent to the penalty box. Ogden made quick use of the man-advantage opportunity winning an offensive zone face-off and making a quick tic-tac-toe play that ended up with Cade Herrera releasing a quick one-timer shot into the low corner past Soderholm. The first period would end with the Outliers leading by a score of 2-1.
The second period saw some good back and forth action between the two teams and some solid saves by both Troha and Soderholm. The two netminders made some timely saves for their team to keep the score close and within a one-goal range. As the period winded down with just over five minutes remaining, the Mustangs caught a break when an Outliers forward was tripped up in front of his net and a loose puck squirted right onto the stick of Mustangs forward Jake Meure who converted a quick shot to tie the game at 2-2. The two teams would enter the second intermission deadlocked at two apiece.
The third period saw the Outliers start to take over the game as they controlled the play in the Mustangs zone with some heavy forechecking pressure. That forecheck would pay off at the 9:40 mark, as the Outliers turned the puck over multiple times within the shift and would not allow Ogden to clear the zone. As the puck was attempted to be cleared high in the Mustangs zone, Outliers forward Brett Morich made a strong effort to keep it in at the blue line where teammate Josh Harrell collected the puck and rolled towards the Ogden net and found Shafaat Hashim all alone on the left side of the zone. Hashim made no mistake, as he opened up for a one-timer shot that blew past the far-right pad of Troha to give the Outliers a 3-2 lead.
The Outliers played strong defense for the rest of the game and goalie Collin Soderholm made some key saves down the stretch to fend off the Mustangs offense. The game would end with the Outliers celebrating a 3-2 victory and winning round one in the I-15 rivalry.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday in Ogden at the Ice Sheet. The puck drops at 1:30 PM MST and you can catch all the action live-streamed on Hockeytv.com.