Outliers reign in the Mustangs
The Utah Outliers took to the ice this past weekend in a two game series against state rivals the Ogden Mustangs. These two opponents are no strangers, as they have already competed against one another five times. Prior to the weekend, the Mustangs held the advantage having won 3 games to the Outliers 2 games. As is the normal for these two teams in recent years, almost every contest this season was action packed and down to the wire. Ogden’s wins had come by scores of: 6-5, 4-0, and 3-2. Utah’s wins were by margins of 3-1 and 3-2. This past weekend was no exception as both Friday and Saturday’s games featured a lot of speed and skill, as both teams prepare for their upcoming schedules at the WSHL Las Vegas Showcase.
In Friday’s contest at the Ice Sheet in Ogden, both the Outliers and the Mustangs wasted no time re-acquainting themselves with each other. Throughout the game there was numerous penalties, which is uncharacteristic of how both teams normally play. There were some heavy hits and a lot of scoring chances from the opening drop of the puck. Each team came close to scoring the first goal, but it did not come until just over five minutes remaining in the opening period. Some hard fore-checking by Dylan Massie freed up the puck which led to Zach Dornseifer rifling a shot that clanked off the cross bar and Jacob Wanstrom rushing in to slide the rebound past a sprawling Daniel Pavlicko for the game opening goal. Utah took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission, as Dawson Rodin would not allow a goal on the ten shots he faced in the first period.
Unhappy with how the first period had ended, the Mustangs came out flying in the second and Swedish forward Jacob Laurin scored five minutes into the frame to tie the game at 1-1. Towards the middle of the second period, Utah started heating up and applying pressure at the Mustangs net. As the Outliers were in the Mustangs zone, the puck popped out to the point where defenseman Zach Evans rifled a shot that was deflected in the net by Gianni Vitali to help the Outliers regain a 2-1 lead. Just thirty seconds later, the Outliers were back in the Mustangs zone and Kaeden Meuer received a pass near the back of the net and centered a pass out front onto the stick of forward Brandon Krumpschmid who quickly shot it past Pavlicko to double the Outliers lead to 3-1. Not taking their foot off of the pedal, Krumpschmid found an opening in the neutral zone and received a breakaway pass where he made a nifty little fake on Pavlicko and then shot the puck up into the the top right corner. Zack Hoffman and Vitali recorded assists. Ogden did not show signs of quitting as Sage Fleming managed to put one past Rodin on a powerplay late with just three minutes remaining.
The third period was a battle of goalies, as a majority of the frame was spent with near misses and solid defensive plays. Neither the Outliers nor the Mustangs could manage to capitalize on their offensive attacks, and it was not until just over a minute left that the home team made the game a true nail biter. With just over a minute left, Matt Mcclelland managed to get a skate on a shot from the point that redirected the puck into the net and cut the lead to 4-3. Utah managed to hold off Ogden’s final attacks and the buzzer sounded declaring the visiting team the winner. Rodin earned 27 saves and picked up his 9th win of the season, while goaltenders Pavlicko and Jonathan Chin combined to make 24 saves. The Outliers also collected 11 penalties for 33 minutes to the Mustangs 9 penalties for 26 minutes, both significantly higher than their season averages.
Saturday’s contest was held in Murray, Utah as a special event game. The last home game in 2017 for the Outliers picked up right where Friday left off, with Jacob Wanstrom scoring the lone goal of the first period. Just over five minutes into the first period, Christian Bundschuh sent the puck to Vitali, who faked a shot and sent a beautiful pass to Wanstrom standing alone in front of the net. “Big Worm” made no mistake burying the puck and keeping his goal-scoring streak alive. The Mustangs had some quality chances in the first period but Rodin stood tall thwarting all scoring opportunities, some in spectacular fashion.
In the second period, while on the penalty kill, Hoffman made an incredible block on an Ogden shot and muscled his way past a defender. As he skated down the ice, Wanstrom joined on the far side for a two-on-one rush where Hoffman slipped the puck under the last defensive player’s stick and Wanstrom buried a shot under the bar for his second goal of the night and Utah’s second goal of the game. The Mustangs received another powerplay shortly after the goal, but this time would make no mistake, as once again Laurin struck first for the Musttangs. Unfortunately for the away team, this was the only offense that would get past Rodin. The Outliers responded with 4:28 remaining, as Vitali kept his goal streak alive on a great play featuring Meuer, Krumpschmid, and himself. Rodin continued to hold down the Mustangs offense and some timely scoring helped Utah maintain a 3-1 lead.
The third period was all Utah, and it started early. Just 39 seconds in, Krumpschmid scored his first of the game and gave the ‘boys in black’ a three-goal advantage. Bundschuh pushed the lead to four on a one-timer from the point while on the Power Play. Wanstrom was able to win a face off to Massie, who one touched the puck to Hoffman. Hoffman passed it over to Bundschuh who unloaded a bomb past Pavlicko. Vitali rounded out the scoring picking up his second of the night on a perfect rebound shot by Locke Wischmann. Evans also picked up an assist.
Rodin stood tall, stopping 43 shots and earning his 10th win of the season. The Outliers converted on four powerplay goals as well as a shorthanded tally. Utah now gets a weekend off as they prepare to take on the WSHL Las Vegas Showcase December 19-21, 2017. The schedule for the showcase is now available online, and the opponents have been revealed. The Outliers will take on the Valencia Flyers December 19th, the Long Beach Bombers December 20th, and the Oklahoma City Blazers December 21st.