Outliers head to annual Vegas Showcase
It is that time of year once again. The Utah Outliers and all other members of the WSHL are making their way to Las Vegas, NV to compete in the Western States Hockey League Showcase from December 17-20. These three games are always a tough test and a great opportunity for Utah to see how they stack up against other teams from around the league that normally they do not see. The three games feature match ups between teams in equal standing from other divisions around the WSHL. With the team performing well with a 16-7-1, some formidable opponents await.
In game one, the Outliers will face off with the dangerous Edson Aeros, who currently sit in third place in the league and number one in the Provincial Division (22-1). Last season the Aeros made it all the way to the semi-finals for the league championship, and will present a very solid opening day opponent. Game two will see Utah pitted against the back-to-back defending champs, the El Paso Rhinos. The Rhinos and Outliers have met several times in the past, and matchups are always jam packed with action. This meeting should be no different as El Paso leads the Midwest / Mountain Division and sit in second place in the WSHL with a 25-4-1 record. The final matchup is one similar to Edson in that Utah has never faced this foe. The Fresno Monsters share a nearly identical record (17-7-1) and are another division front-runner, leading the Western Division.
The Outliers will be tested heavily throughout the showcase, and are eager to see how they stack up against some of the league’s best. The boys are extremely determined and motivated to try and add three more wins to their record going into the conclusion of the first half of the season. Achieving these three wins would help Utah further separate themselves from the third place Seattle Totems, as well as close the gap from the WSHL leading Ogden Mustangs in the Northwest Division.
When asked about the showcase, head coach Paul Taylor believes the key is to stay within themselves and maintain balance. “We need to play our game and get a feel for our opponent. A great thing about the showcase is that you get to face-off against teams you wouldn’t normally see during the regular season.” Coach Taylor continued on, “Our speed will be a huge factor, along with the intensity we bring coming off two tough games last weekend against Ogden. As always, goaltending also plays an immensely powerful role, and that is an area we are very confident in.”
Assistant Coach Sean Leahy believes that playing a two-way game is a huge factor in the Outliers’ success over the weekend. “Puck management and time of possession is going to be big. We need to manage the puck efficiently and make the most of opportunities. If we can control the puck and make smart decisions, we can dictate the pace of the game.” He went on to add, “when we don’t have the puck, the team has to buy in to playing hard defense both individually, and as a team. If we can limit chances against us and keep the flow going back the opposite way, it will be very tough for teams to make plays and be effective.”
These three games should be a lot of fun as 2019, and the first half of the season comes to a close. The Outliers are looking to make some noise in the WSHL and pick up momentum as they go into the second half of the season, preparing for another long playoff run. Make sure to tune in to BlackDogEnterprises for all the game coverage, and follow us on social media @UtahOutliers for updates on how the showcase is progressing!