Outliers make a statement at Showcase
The Utah Outliers just finished up their participation in the WSHL Las Vegas Showcase December 19-21. Along with the other twenty two teams, the Outliers set out to see how they would stack up against the other divisions, as well as showcase their talents in front of the high number of college scouts in attendance. Utah came into the showcase with a tough challenge of taking on three of the top teams from around the WSHL. The Valencia Flyers, the Long Beach Bombers, and the Oklahoma City Blazers were ranked 2nd, 1st, and 2nd in their respective divisions, which meant there would be no easy points for the Outliers. Even with the tough opponents, Utah did very well for themselves winning two of the three games to head into the new year.
Monday’s game featured the Valencia Flyers taking on the Utah Outliers. Utah came out strong but failed to capitalize on some early chances. The Western Division foes struck first, just seven minutes into the opening frame on a powerplay goal. The Outliers started picking up steam and Dylan Massie evened the score at 1-1 on a nice set up from Zach Dornseifer. Another penalty put the Outliers down a man but this time this time they were able to score a short-handed goal. Once again it was Massie who slipped a shot through the goalie’s legs on a breakaway. Assists on the second goal were awarded to Zack Hoffman and Jacob Wanstrom. The first Outliers lead was short lived as merely thirty seconds later the Flyers would knot the game at two, and then twenty seconds after that, gain their lead back. Though outshot by Utah, Valencia went into the end of the first half with the edge 3-2.
In the second frame, Valencia repeated what they did in the first, scoring six minutes in and doubling their lead. Utah once again turned up the heat and began creating a barrage of chances. Finally breaking through with 9:02 remaining, Massie scored his third goal of the night by batting the puck out of the air. Assists came from Dornseifer and Hoffman. The pace kept up for the Outliers and a minute later Gianni Vitali collected a rebound in front of the net and drilled it by the goaltender to tie the game. Kaeden Meuer picked up the lone assist. The Outliers seemed to have momentum and a number of quality chances, but a late penalty opened the door for the Flyers, and the opponents made no mistake reclaiming the lead. Utah had a few more chances, but unfortunately could not even the score, and dropped game one of the Showcase 5-4.
Otto Saxin picked up 26 saves in the contest, and uncharacteristically the Outliers allowed 3 powerplay goals against.
Game two saw the Outliers taking on another Western Division foe, this time in the form of the first place Long Beach Bombers. With two high-powered offenses hitting the ice, this contest did not disappoint. Scoring came early as Oskars Ancitis scored in the first shift of the game with helpers being credited to Hoffman and Zack Evans. Less than three minutes later the Outliers saw their lead double, as Locke Wischmann made a terrific move on a Bomber defenseman and sent the puck to Benji Mickel who deked the goaltender and buried the puck in the net. The quick lead engaged both teams and was followed by up and down action. Each team traded chances and Long Beach was finally able to get one by Dawson Rodin with 16:51 left in the first. Utah responded back quickly as Kane Toriumi took a rebound shot fired by Brandon Krumpschmid and slipped it in the net. Once again Long Beach would not go down without a fight, scoring two goals in two minutes to tie the game back up 3-3. As time was winding down in the first, a miscue by a Bomber defenseman on the powerplay saw the puck land on Roman Svik’s stick. Svik made a nice move and blasted the puck past the Bombers goalie. After an eventful first period, both teams retired to the dressing room with a score of 4-3 in favor of Utah.
In the second frame, the ice was tilted completely towards the Outliers. The boys in black dominated time of possession and dictated control of the game throughout the period, and scored what looked like the only goal of the period ten minutes in. While on the powerplay, Christian Bundschuh sent a pass over to Ancitis, who tapped the puck to Toriumi. Kane made no mistake burying his second of the game and regaining Utah’s two-goal lead. As the game was drawing to a close, Long Beach pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. With just over a minute left, the Bombers dumped the puck high on net to Outliers goalie Dawson Rodin. Rodin quickly gloved the puck and dropped it on his stick and launched the puck down the length of the ice. Everyone in the rink rose to their feet as the puck slid into the empty net for a ‘goalie goal.’ The Outlier bench emptied and the players sprinted to their netminder who did the unthinkable. The Outliers finished off the game with a highlight play and a 6-3 victory.
In addition to the goal, Rodin earned 21 saves in his 11th win of the season. His goal made its way to TSN and the NHL Network, and was the number two play on ESPN’s SportCenter Top 10 Plays of the day.
In the final game of the showcase for Utah, the opponent was the red-hot Oklahoma City Blazers, who were coming off of a 4-2 win over Ogden and a 2-1 win over the Idaho IceCats. In what would be the toughest test of the weekend, Utah again made a claim as why they should be considered as a contender for the WSHL Thorne Cup. As shown in the first two games, the offense was clicking, and once again the Outliers had a sizeable shot advantage. The first period featured some good chances and some big hits from both teams, but it wasn’t until 3:12 left in the frame that a team would take the lead. A beautiful pass from Outliers captain Jacob Wanstrom to Zach Dornseifer who was alone in front of the net. Dornseifer wired a wrister right under the bar, and gave Utah the 1-0 lead.
In the last frame of the showcase, the Outliers were able to hold the potent OKC offense to just 6 shots, and were able to possess the puck and create a number of opportunities. Massie kept his hot streak alive and doubled the lead for Utah on a very skillful shot that beat the Blazers goalie cleanly. The final goal of the game once again came thanks to the effort of Rodin. While on the powerplay, the Blazers put a shot on Utah’s goalie. Rodin turned the puck to Meuer, who saw Wanstrom streaking up the ice. “Big Worm” took the puck and went in on a breakaway, shooting the puck under the glove of OKC’s goaltender and putting the dagger in the opponents. The 3-0 win solidified the first half of the season and put an exclamation point on the showcase, as the Outliers enter the Christmas break with a 22-6-0 record.
Rodin picked up his 12th win, 2nd assist, and 5th shutout of the season while earning 20 saves.
The Utah Outliers will return to action January 12-14 when they take on the Cheyenne Stampe