OUTLIERS RISE UP THE STANDINGS
The WSHL is nearing the halfway point in the season, and the Utah Outliers have started the year off in fine fashion, boasting a record of 18 wins and only 5 losses. The current record comes in part to this past weekend’s series, where the team swept the Tahoe Icemen in three straight games. Utah won by a combined margin of 25-8. Not only did the weekend showcase the Outliers’ strengths, but it also leapfrogged the team over the Colorado Jr Eagles and into second place in the Mountain Division, and fifth place in the entire league.
The success of the Utah Outliers is due in part to the depth and balance this team has. Offensively, defensively, and goaltending, each member on the Outlier roster has shown their value to the organization and has contributed in one-way or another. Having a sound team concept, Utah has been able to wear down opponents, as well as make it difficult for other teams to focus in on only a handful of players.
On the offensive side, every player has multiple points. Twenty-two different Outliers have scored goals, and each player has at least 3 assists. The scoring by committee Utah has seen is a large reason why the program currently sits among the top teams in the league offensively. On the powerplay this season, Utah ranks eighth in the league with a 24% conversion rate. Kane Toriumi leads the potent Outlier attack with 15 goals this year. Gianni Vitali and Zack Hoffman lead the team in assists with 24, and Hoffman also leads the team with 36 points. In addition to topping in team points, Hoffman currently sits as the number one scoring defenseman in the league.
Defensively, the Outliers rank fourth in the league in team defense and number one in the Mountain Division, only allowing a miniscule 42 goals against in the 23 games. Averaging less than two goals against per game is a rare statistic that not many teams achieve in the WSHL, which is known to be a high scoring league. Utah has a solid core of d-men that have shown they have the ability to defend in all situations. The age-old adage “defense wins championships” hopefully stands true, as the Outliers defensive group has proved to be amongst the WSHL best. Up to this point, the Utah d-core has defended well and also scored a total of 20 goals and chipped in for 66 assists.
In net, Utah has been fortunate to have three very capable goaltenders that have all proved they have what it takes to win games. Both Dawson Rodin and Otto Saxin rank among the league leaders in save percentage and goals against average. Rodin and Saxin each have won eight games apiece, and both have staggering save percentages of 94% (Rodin) and 93% (Saxin) respectively. The third member of the goaltender trio Trenton Wendt has also done very well in his first season of junior hockey. As a 2000 born netminder, Wendt has a perfect 2-0 record. His continued improvements are sure to be the start of a very successful junior career.
Some other interesting stats for this year’s Outlier team come in terms of home ice advantage and in terms of penalties. Utah is currently a perfect 10-0 at home at the Acord Ice Center. Not surrendering home ice is a terrific stat to have when looking forward to playoff hockey. In addition to the start at home, the players have also done well at staying out of the penalty box. The team is amongst the league’s lowest in PIMs, but when they do receive penalties, opposing teams have found it hard to take advantage. In 100 attempts, opponents have only managed to score 10 goals, giving the Outliers a 90% kill rate, good for fifth in the league. In addition to only allowing 10 goals against, Utah has scored 11 goals shorthanded. Combined with the powerplay, the Outlier special team’s units are +22, trailing only the Oklahoma City Blazers, El Paso Rhinos, and the Ogden Mustangs for fourth best in special teams in the WSHL.
The Utah Outliers have two more games to play this weekend against Ogden before heading to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2017-18 WSHL Showcase. Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming weekend’s games, as well as an in depth analysis for the showcase.