The Utah Outliers were back in action this past weekend as they faced their in-state rival, the Ogden Mustangs for a pair of games. Both teams battled hard and ended up splitting the series. The Outliers would pick up the victory on Friday in Ogden by a score of 5-4 and the Mustangs returned the favor the next night to defeat the Outliers 4-1 at the Acord Ice Center.
UTAH OUTLIERS 5, OGDEN MUSTANGS 4 (OCT 6)
This game was the first matchup of the 2023-24 season between the Mustangs and the Outliers and it did not disappoint. The game had plenty of hard-hitting action and intense battles which has become customary with these two clubs over the years.
The first period started with both teams applying aggressive checking pressure and making it difficult to find much open ice to generate offense. The opening frame also displayed some big hits and physical play as each team worked to assert their presence and grab some early momentum.
Utah opened the scoring at 13:35 when defenseman Grant Burback made a strong play to keep the puck inside the Mustangs blue line and feathered a pass to teammate Milan Levcenko who found some open space in the slot. Levcenko grabbed control of the puck and skated into the slot where he rifled a shot over the glove of the Ogden goalie to give the Outliers a 1-0 lead.
The Outliers took further control of the game when just over a minute later at the 12:01 mark of the first period, David Utkin broke out of his own zone and rushed up the ice, and beat the Mustang's defender one-on-one and then finished the play with an outstanding deke on the Ogden goalie to give Utah a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Outliers the Mustangs came roaring back with a vengeance and scored three unanswered goals over the next three minutes of action to take a 3-2 lead by the 9:09 mark of the period. Utah made a goalie change to try and change the momentum and settle the game down. Loic Mainguy Crepault came into the game to replace starting goaltender Griffin Davis.
After a furious pace of scoring in the first period, the second period would only have one goal scored, and that belonged to the Outliers. Thanks to some hard work and aggressive play by Utah, the Mustangs were called for a penalty which the Outliers on the power play. While playing with the man advantage, Outliers forward Lucas Ouellette entered the Mustangs zone off the rush and slid a pass across to teammate Brayden Boucher who was streaking down the right side of the ice. Boucher quickly attacked the Ogden net and put a shot on goal and the rebound came right back to him where he quickly deposited it past a surprised Mustangs netminder to tie the game 3-3.
Early in the third period, Utah's power play went to work again as it was David Utkin scoring his second goal of the evening. Utkin picked up the puck in his own zone and navigated up the ice with tremendous speed to make a zone entry. Once he entered the Mustang's zone he released a quick snap shot from the top of the circles that beat the Mustangs goalie cleanly over his glove hand and into the top corner of the net. The Outliers were back on top with a 4-3 lead at the 16:42 mark of the final frame.
At the 6:04 mark of the third period, Ogden answered with their fourth goal of the contest to even the score once again. The Mustangs set up in the Outliers zone where they moved the puck around and eventually fed it up high to their defenseman Ethan Hall at the point. Hall released a quick shot to the net which was stopped by Mainguy-Crepault but the rebound lay in the crease and was whacked in by Ogden forward Parker Osborn.
With just over three minutes left in the game, Utah was awarded another power play and once again they made the Mustangs pay for their infraction. It would take the Outliers just eleven seconds to convert on the man advantage and put the puck in the back of the net. Utah won the critical face-off in the Mustang's zone and moved the puck back to the point to defenseman Grant Burback who slid a pass over to David Utkin positioned at the top of the left face-off circle. Utkin calmly took control of the puck and skated down the open lane where he fired a missile of a shot that went off the crossbar and into the net. This highlight shot gave Utkin a hat trick in the game and sealed the victory for the Outliers as they skated off the ice with a 5-4 win.
UTAH OUTLIERS 1, OGDEN MUSTANGS 4 (OCT 7)
The two teams were back in action on Saturday at the Acord Ice Center in West Valley. The Outliers were looking to carry their momentum from the previous night and grab the weekend sweep while the Mustangs were out for revenge and hoping to even the series up.
The opening period showed a lot of familiar characteristics from Friday's game as both teams played with a lot of pace and aggression along with some big hits from both clubs.
On this night, it was the Mustangs opening the scoring with just 5:33 remaining in the opening period. With the puck in Ogden's zone and the Outliers pressing for offense, the home team got caught with their defenseman pinching which resulted in a 2-on-1 odd-man rush for Ogden. The Mustangs made no mistake capitalizing on their opportunity to open the scoring and take a 1-0 lead.
Ogden extended their lead to 2-0 at the 2:00 mark of the first period as they applied intense pressure in the Utah zone. The Outliers worked to defend against Ogden's offense as they moved the puck around but eventually, the visitors created a shot opportunity that found its way into the back of Utah's net. The period came to an end with the Mustangs holding a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room.
In the second period, Utah capitalized on its first goal of the game while playing on the power play. As they had done the night before, the Outliers moved the puck around quickly in the Ogden zone with the man advantage. Utah forward Daniil Chuparnov would gain control of the puck at the left circle and skate down an open lane to rip his shot far side to beat the Ogden netminder and make the score 2-1.
The Outliers came out storming in the third period as they controlled the play and peppered the Mustang's net looking for the equalizer. Unfortunately for Utah, Mustang's goalie Vladislav Bryzgalov was up to the task and shut the door making save after save and not allowing the Outliers to tie the game.
Ogden increased its lead to 3-1 when they controlled the puck in the Outliers zone and converted on a rebound laying in the crease. Utah would pull its goalie in the last minute of the game and Ogden would take control of an Outliers errant turnover and finish the night off with an empty net goal and a 4-1 victory.