Outliers Finish Regular Season Play
The Outliers' regular season has come to an end. The team traveled to Ogden for a two-game series and their last games of the regular season. Utah would find victory in game one of the series and Ogden would take home the win in game two.
Game One - Outliers 5 Mustangs 3
The Outliers traveled up to Ogden to face off against the Ogden Mustangs for both team’s final two regular-season games. Utah's spirits were high and energetic after having defeated the Provo Riverblades two nights prior and therefore securing a postseason playoff spot.
Saturday night at the Ice Sheet, the Ogden Mustangs were celebrating their 10th anniversary with their fans. Local fans in attendance came to Ogden to be a part of this sold-out crowd, to watch the best rivalry in the Mountain Division duel it out on the ice. Utah went into this game knowing that the Mustangs would have a chip on their shoulder having lost the previous three games to the Outliers. The Outliers were looking to continue their recent success against Ogden and continue their hot streak and momentum heading into playoffs.
The “Black and Yellow” attacked right from the opening puck drop. Twenty seconds into the game, forward Luke Volkmann put the puck into the back of the net as he released a quick shot off the rush. that fooled the Mustangs goaltender for an early 1-0 lead.
The Outliers scoring did not stop there as they added two additional goals during the first period to give themselves a 3-0 lead and silence the Ogden crowd. Forward Nikolas Schwab scored the second goal
of the game when he finished off a 2-on-1 play and scored off a nifty pass from linemate Luke Volkmann. Volkmann would again get on the score sheet when Nikolas Schwab returned the favor and fed him a nice pass for a backdoor goal on the power play. Defenseman Curtis Shukster would also get an assist on Volkmann's goal.
The first period would conclude with the Outliers controlling the period and having a 3 goal lead. The Outliers would outshoot Ogden in the opening frame 13 to 7. Although Utah limited the Mustangs to just seven shots in the first period, Kyle Kozma stood tall in net for the Outliers.
Both teams started the second period fast and furious. The Outliers were looking to maintain their lead and defend the lead, while the Mustangs needed to get on the scoreboard and close the gap. Early in the second period, Ogden found their first goal while playing on the power play to narrow Utah's lead to 3-1.
Ogden's first goal of the game intensified the action as things heated up quickly between the two teams and it showed through the penalties that were happening on the ice. Both teams were looking to impose their will on the other and neither team was going away quietly.
The Outliers penalty kill had to come through for the club and hold off the Mustangs attack. It looked as though the second period would come to an end with the Outliers holding a 3-1 lead, but Utah defenseman Matthew Koepke struck gold when he pressured up ice on the Mustangs power play and created a turnover for a breakaway.
Koepke would make no mistake on his opportunity and fire a laser into the top corner over the Mustang's goalie's blocker. Utah would head into the third period up by a score of 4-1 and once again outshoot Ogden 13-9 in the period.
Heading into the third period, the Outliers once again knew that defense would be the key to their success in solidifying the win for this game. The team's penalty kill had been strong all game, but Utah knew that if they stayed out of the box they would limit the number of chances for the Mustangs and that would be critical to maintaining their lead.
Two minutes into the third period, Utah forward Josh Harrell would break down the right side of the ice and gain the Mustangs zone. Upon entering the offensive zone, Harrell would slide a nice pass through the Mustangs defender onto the stick of John McLaughlin who would snipe the top corner to extend the Outliers lead to 5-1. Curtis Shukster would get his second assist of the game.
The Mustangs would come back later in the period and find two goals of their own to narrow the Outliers' lead to 5-3. Utah would then tighten up defensively and block several attempted shots at the net by Ogden.
Outliers goaltender Kyle Kozma would make many key saves to keep his team ahead in the contest. As the clock ticked down, the Outliers would once again skate off with the win and beat the Mustangs 5-3 for their fourth consecutive win against their Utah rival. The final shots for the game showed Utah 36 and Mustangs 24.
Game two - Mustangs 5 Outliers 2
Sunday afternoon the Outliers returned to the Ice Sheet to play the Mustangs and complete their last regular-season game.
Both teams came into this game with over 20 wins in the season and both teams were looking to head into the playoffs on a high note.
The first-period action would have Utah starting strong again and spending large amounts of time in the Mustangs zone. The Outliers generated many good scoring chances in the first half of the period but could not find the back of the net. The Mustangs would take advantage of Utah's inability to score early and make them pay as they intercepted an errant pass by the Outliers in their zone and walked down the slot to score into the top corner past Utah's goalie Kyle Kozma.
Just over five minutes later, Mustangs forward Seth Jones intercepted another cross-ice pass by Utah who was getting sloppy in their zone and skated in all alone on Kozma to score and give Ogden a 2-0 lead. No additional goals were scored in the first period and shots would end up 10 apiece for both teams.
In the second period, the Outliers came out more mind full of their play and managed the puck more effectively. Once again the Outliers had several good scoring chances but the Mustangs goalie was up for the challenge and fended off Utah with many big saves.
After pressing offensively for some time, Utah would then take a double minor penalty against them to put the Mustangs on the power play for 4 minutes. Ogden would take advantage of this opportunity and score to increase their lead to 3-0. At the 16:48 mark of the second period, the Outliers would finally get on the scoreboard with a power-play goal of their own. Outliers forward Leeam Tivers would set up at the front of the Mustangs net and tip a shot from the point off the stick of defenseman Declan Douthart. Utah defenseman Zac Patrick would also get an assist on the play.
In the third period with a 3-1 lead for the Mustangs, the Outliers went on the attack immediately to try and close on the Mustangs lead. After almost nine minutes of back and forth action on the ice, it was the Outliers power play that would connect again for the visiting team's second goal of the game. This second goal of the game was a carbon copy of the first Utah goal. Once again, it was Outliers forward Leeam Tivers deflecting a shot at the net-front from defenseman Declan Douthart at the point to make it 3-2.
Unfortunately for the Outliers, the momentum of scoring would not last long as Ogden would strike back just 60 seconds later with a goal of their own and give them another two-goal lead in the contest. The Mustangs would strike again almost 5 minutes later and increase their lead to 5-2. The Outliers continued to press offensively and had multiple chances to score but just could not find any more goals in this game. The final shots for the game were Outliers 29, Mustangs 24.
The Outliers will now prepare for the playoffs and begin their quest for a USPHL 'Premier' National Championship.