On Thursday, the Utah Outliers played an afternoon game facing off against the Northern Colorado Eagles at the Maverick Center in West Valley. The Outliers were determined to get off to a fast start and look to dictate the pace of the game.
It didn't take the Outliers long to find the back of the net. Just 59 seconds into the game, Jett Arminen converted his 9th goal of the season off a rush down the right side of the ice. Arminen broke towards the Eagles net and lost control of the puck but quickly got it back and slipped it past the Eagles goaltender. This was the exact kind of start that the Outliers wanted.
After the Outliers first goal of the contest, the game settled in and both teams pressed to create scoring opportunities. Mid period, the Eagles created some offensive zone pressure but Outliers goaltender Doug Connor was up to the challenge making some strong saves including a diving 'highlight' save that robbed the Eagles from tying the game. The Outliers would extend their lead to 2-0 when forward Josh Harrel scored his 7th of the season with a crazy shot from a puck that bounced off the boards over the crossbar and landed directly on his stick. Harrell was able to quickly chip it past the Colorado goalie at the 16:11 mark in the game to give the Outliers a 2-0 lead.
The Outliers scoring continued at 17:39 of the first period when forward Alex Charin broke into the Eagles zone down the wing and made a nice escape move to get away from the Colorado defender. Charin quickly slid a pass into the slot for teammate Brett Morich who released a perfect shot into the top corner. . Forward Josh Harrell continued the scoring pressure on the Eagles as less than 60 seconds after Morich's goal, Harrel would score his second of the game with the assist from defenseman Logan Johnson, The period ended with the Outliers commanding a 4-0 lead.
The second period opened with a change in netminder for the Northern Colorado Eagles in an attempt to alter the momentum of the game. Goaltender Ulrick Roussel would replace Riley Tucker. The Eagles finally found some life early in the period while playing shorthanded on the penalty kill. The Outliers turned the puck over on the power play at the Eagles blue line and Colorado forward Brennan Mcfarland took off on a breakaway and made a nice move to close the Outliers lead to 4-1.
It took the Outliers just under thirty seconds to avenge the shorthanded goal when Jett Arminen caught the Eagles on a risky line change. Goaltender Doug Connor quickly passed the puck up the ice to the Eagles blue line as they were on a change and Arminen broke down the right side and buried his shot past Roussel for a 5-1 lead.
With five minutes left in the second period, Outliers found themselves shorthanded and having to kill off an Eagles 5 on 3 powerplay. The penalty kill units did a great job preventing the Eagles from getting many shots to the net and when Colorado did get a shot off, Doug Connor made the save with no rebounds.
The Outliers would finish up the scoring in the second period when Outliers forward TJ Mcleod stepped out of the penalty box and would join Brett Morich on an offensive rush into the Eagles zone. Morich made a strong move to drive to the net on his backhand and then made a drop pass to a trailing Mcleod who shot it top shelf over Roussel's catching glove. The team's would head into the locker room with the Outliers leading by a score of 6-1.
The third period saw the Eagles’ penalty boxed starting to get crowded as three players were sent to the box for various penalties just five minutes into the final frame. The Eagles penalty kill units worked hard and did a good job of preventing the Outliers from adding any more goals to the game. The action was back and forth for the rest of the third without either team finding the net. The game appeared as it would end 6-1 but with just eleven seconds left in the period, the Eagles capitalized on a face-off win in the Outliers zone and fed a pass to the point. The puck made its way past the Outliers defenders attempting to block the shot for a final score of 6-2.
Doug Connor would finish the contest stopping 32 of the 34 shots by the Eagles. This game was a great demonstration of hard work and hustle by Utah and they will be looking to continue their strong play when they are back in action on Saturday against the Eagles at the Maverik Center. Game time is 7:45 PM. The game is available on HockeyTV.com.