Outliers defeat Rush
Coming off of their first win at Nationals, the Utah Outliers faced off against the Charlotte rush in game two. The Rush are the defending 2021 USPHL National Champions, so this was sure to be a very spirited game.
Utah would show the visitors they had come to play and would not back down at any point on this night to skate to a 3-2 OT win. The victory moved the Outliers into first place in Pool C.
The Outliers switched goaltenders for game two as they have done so often in the playoffs. In this game, Utah would turn to Lucas Brine to guard their net. For Charlotte, David Battisti would get the nod as their chosen back stopper. Brine would finish the night making 25 saves and lead his club to victory with a very solid performance. His strong play in the net earned him another win as he is undefeated in the playoffs thus far.
The first period started off with a fury of intensity from both teams as there was a lot of high energy and emotion in the building. That high intensity would unfortunately get the best of Utah early as forward Noah Bourassa was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking at the eight-minute mark. Charlotte, who is known for having a strong power play was defended aggressively by the Outliers and denied any real quality scoring chances. Utah would successfully kill of the major and get back to 5-on5 play.
As the period wore on, Utah began to press hard against Charlotte and control the offensive zone. Their hard forecheck style would result in drawing a hooking penalty and give Utah a chance to work the man advantage. Although the Outliers had some good puck movement and chances at the net they were unable to capitalize and headed into the first intermission scoreless.
In the second period, it was Utah drawing first blood and finding the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead. The Outliers won a defensive zone face-off and quickly broke up the ice with Carl Jonsson-Edfast leading the charge. Jonsson-Edfast would attack down the right sideboards and through the neutral zone with speed to enter the Rush zone. Upon crossing the blue line, Jonsson-Esdfast drove to the net and feathered a beautiful pass to the backdoor to Leyton Pettypiece who beat his man up the ice. Pettypiece would take the pass and tap it into the back of thee net to give Utah the opening goal of the evening.
It looked as if the second period would wind down with a 1-0 Utah lead but Charlotte would score with just over two minutes remaining in the second period to narrow the score to 2-1. Just under a minute later, the Rush added a second goal to take a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. It was a quick turn of events for Utah and the team went back into the locker room to regroup and prepare for a battle in the final frame.
In the final period, with the Outliers pressing, Charlotte’s Zach Dill was called for a slashing infraction and the Outliers would head to the man advantage with a chance to even the score. The Utah power play would work the puck around the rush zone and generate some strong chances at the net but were denied by the Rush goaltender.
Shortly after the power play, it was Outliers’ defenseman Kai Stothers who broke free up ice off the rush and skated the puck down the right side of the boards and entered the Charlotte zone with speed. When entering the zone, Stothers continued to drive low to the goal line and ripped a quick shot towards the near post that fooled the rush netminder and found its way across the goal line. Utah had evened the game at 2-2 with 7 minutes remaining.
The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the game looking for the crucial third goal. Utah had some great scoring chances in the final minute but could not convert. Regulation play would prove to be not enough time on this night and the two teams would head into 3-on-3 overtime.
With just over a minute remaining in overtime, Utah's Miles Mccue created a turnover near the sideboards in the rush zone and a battle would ensue with Mccue and Rush player. Utah defenseman, Matthew Kopeke skate to the scrum and scooped up the loose puck out of the pile of bodies and broke free on a short 2 on 0 with teammate Will Cohen. Koepke skated in on the Charlotte netminder and dished a pass to the backdoor to Will Cohen who shot it under the cross bar for a 3-2 Utah victory!
This electric game-winning goal led to Will Cohan being announced as the USPHL star of the game.
The Outliers are back in action tomorrow against the Northern Cyclones at 8:30 p.m. Utah will need a victory or a tie during regulation play to advance out of its pool and on to the quarter-finals.
All USPHL National championship games can be viewed live stream on Hockeytv.com.