by Paul Taylor

The Utah Outliers and Ogden Mustangs are no strangers to one another. Having met nine times during the regular season, it came as no shock to anyone that these two teams were destined to face each other in the playoffs. Just as it was in the regular season, each game was tightly played and action packed. Coming in to the playoffs, the Outliers held the advantage five games to four, but as mentioned before, all but two games were only separated by a one-two goal margin. That fact stayed true in the playoffs, as Ogden beat Utah 4-3 and 2-1 with both games being in overtime.

In game one, both teams showed their prowess, as shots throughout the first period were 10-9 in favor of Ogden. Matus Spodniak picked up where he left off in the regular season, scoring the only goal of the first. In the second frame, Utah put on the pressure, outshooting Ogden by a 15-8 margin, however the Mustangs were the only one to capitalize courtesy of Jacob Laurin. The Outliers used the offensive chances in the second to springboard their chances in the third. Jacob Wanstrom scored 13 seconds into the period with help from Brandon Krumpschmid and Christian Bundschuh. The Mustangs responded on another Spoodniak power play goal. Utah turned up the intensity late into the frame as some hard work down low by Kane Toriumi led to a Kaeden Meuer goal. With just over a minute left to go in the game, Mattias Wikstrom blasted a shot just wide of the net. Krumpschmid whacked at the puck and it found its way to Wanstrom’s stick. Big Worm made no mistake burying the puck and tying the game at 3-3. The Outliers made a strong push in the last minute and had two near chances to take the lead, but ultimately the game would go to overtime. It did not take long once overtime started. The twenty minute break hurt Utah’s momentum and revitalized the Mustangs, as thirty seconds in Laurin would score his second of the game from a pass into the slot and seal game one for the Stangs.

Game two was a contest of goaltenders, as both Dawson Rodin and Jonathan Chin stood tall in net, making 39 and 36 saves respectively. Ross Bartlett would score the only goal through two periods in what was a back and forth game. Uncharacteristically there were also only three penalties called, so the tempo was ramped up with very few whistles. Once again, it took until the third period for the Outliers to find the board as Viktor Burman found Wanstrom wide open up the ice. Jacob slid the puck across to Zach Dornseifer who blasted a wicked wrister over Chin’s shoulder. For the second game in as many nights, the game would go to overtime. Just under halfway through OT, Tyson Liverance would end the game and the series, sneaking a ‘seeing eye shot’ from the point that found its way through traffic and past Rodin.

The Utah Outliers now have a week to regroup and prepare for the Thorne Cup Championship in El Paso, TX starting April 11. The final six teams include: El Paso Rhinos, Idaho Ice Cats, Ogden Mustangs, Long Beach Bombers, Oklahoma City Blazers, and the Utah Outliers. Stay tuned for more information regarding the games as well as the format for the Thorne Cup.