Weekend Recap: Outliers Sweep Bulls
The Utah Outliers swept their divisional opponent, Pueblo Bulls this past weekend by scores of 5-4 OT, 8-2, and 4-0 at the Maverik Center. Utah came into the series looking for redemption having lost to Pueblo in the first series of the season back in early October in Colorado. The Outliers dominated the Bulls in all aspects of the three games and never once trailed in a game throughout the weekend.
Outliers 5 Bulls 4 (OT)
In game one of the series on Friday, the Outliers came out flying in the first period and took the game to the Bulls by controlling the pace and peppering Pueblo goalie Douglas Wakelyn with 16 shots.
As they have so often this season, the Outliers scored an early first goal of the game just eight minutes into the contest. Outliers forward Balint Mesterhazy broke the puck out of his zone and skated down the right side of the ice entering the Bulls zone and released a quick shot that created a rebound for teammate John McLaughlin following up on the play to bury into the back of the net.
Just a few minutes later, the Outliers were adding to their lead to make it a 2-0. Utah had been controlling the puck in the Bulls zone with some sustained pressure and the puck was passed up to the point to Outliers defenseman Matthew Kopeke for a point shot. Koepke's shot was stopped by the Bulls goalie but Utah's Ricky Bredberg scooped up the rebound that had gone to the side of the net and quickly passed it out front for Easton Armstrong to shoot past the Bulls goaltender for the goal.
The first period looked like it would end with the Outliers holding a 2-0 lead going into the intermission but with just 1:44 left in the opening frame, the Bulls found their first goal of the game. The Bulls flipped a puck out into the neutral zone that caught the Outliers flat-footed and an odd-man rush sent the Bulls on a three-on-two rush attack. It appeared the Outliers had caught up to the Bulls attack as they entered the Outliers zone but Pueblo forward Dane Whittet made a nice spin move and slid the puck backdoor for a tap-in goal for Bulls forward Ethan Knutsen.
The second period started similar to the first period with the Outliers controlling much of the play and manufacturing some solid scoring chances at the Bulls net. The Outliers' hard work finally paid off almost halfway into the second period when their forecheck created a turnover and went to work in the offensive zone. Utah controlled the puck in the Bulls zone for a sequence of time when the puck found itself passed to the point to Outliers defenseman Ethan Cumming who took a low shot on net. The rebound made its way behind the net where Utah forward Josh Harrell made a nifty pass to teammate Nikita Andrusenko who quickly made a nice wraparound play to jam the puck into the net at the far post.
The Bulls would quickly cut the Outliers lead and made the score 3-2 when they were awarded a power play. Pueblo set up their offense and moved the puck up top and fired a point shot that found its way past Outliers goaltender Rustam Kulizade. The two teams would head into the second intermission with the Outliers leading 3-2.
In the third period, the Outliers once again leaned on their tenacious forecheck to provide scoring, after a lengthy shift in the Bulls zone. After a series of scoring chances at the Bulls net, Outliers Nikita Andrusenko pounced on a loose puck in the corner and passed it up to the point to defenseman Michele Vignoli. Vignoli made no mistake and released a bomb of a shot off the crossbar and into the net. This would give the Outliers a 4-2 lead with 10:51 left in the game.
Although the Outliers held a comfortable two-goal lead with just over six minutes remaining in the game, the Bulls came roaring back with two goals of their own to send the game into Overtime.
First, it was Bulls defenseman Gabe Aigner shooting from the point for a tip-in by teammate Nico Hemming to make it 4-3, and then with just 19 seconds left in the game, the Bulls leading scorer Benjamin St.Onge was left wide open at the Outliers net and released a quick shot off a pass to tie the game at 4-4.
The two teams played a five minute 3 on 3 overtime with both teams having some great scoring chances. Each team had a chance to win it on the power play but both goalies made some terrific saves to deny the opponent.
In the shootout, the Outliers would make no mistake on their opportunities with both shooters (Nikita Andrusenko & Easton Armstrong) scoring on their attempts. Outliers goaltender Rustam Kulizade shut the door and blanked both Pueblo attempts to give the Outliers a 5-4 OT victory.
Outliers 8 Bulls 2
Game two of the series on Saturday was all Outliers as they won the game by a score of 8-2 and physically dominated the Bulls all over the ice.
Utah scored two goals in the first period, two in the second, and another four goals in the third period. Goaltender Rustam Kulizade was solid in net making 26 saves on the night.
The Outliers saw a variety of different players hit the scoresheet. The team saw goals from seven different players. Jett Arminen, Balint Mesterhazy, John McLaughlin, Dawson Armstrong, Luke Volkmann (2), Ricky Bredberg and Brett Morich.
Outliers 4 Bulls 0
In the last game of the series on Sunday, the Outliers finished where they had left off from the previous two games by scoring first and never looking back.
The first period of the game saw back and forth action with good scoring chances and quality saves from both goalies. Outliers netminder Collin Soderstrom made his first appearance of the weekend and looked especially sharp, robbing Bulls leading scorer Benjamin St. Onge on a breakaway early in the game. The first period would end with no scoring and deadlocked at 0-0.
In the second period, Utah came out hard and started to take the game over physically with their forecheck and wear down the Bulls defense. That relentless effort would pay off for the Outliers as they found some open space to attack Pueblo's goal. With the Bulls trying to relieve the pressure they chipped the puck into the neutral zone where Outliers defenseman Ethan Cumming made a nice pass to forward Josh Harrell breaking into the Bulls zone. Harrell upon entering the attacking zone made a quick one-touch pass to teammate Shafaat Hashim for a two-on-one odd-man rush. Hashim broke down the right side of the goal and buried a laser to the low stick side of the Bulls netminder for a 1-0 lead.
Just a few minutes later the Outliers would extend their lead to 2-0. Balint Mesterhazy made a fantastic effort on the forecheck and hunted down the Bulls defenseman retrieving the puck on a dump-in. Mesterhazy stripped the defenseman of the puck from behind the net and made a great centering pass to Ricky Bredberg who was all alone at the front of the net. Bredberg released a quick shot off the pass that found its way through the legs of the Pueblo goaltender. The Outliers would head into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
The third period was a clinic in shut down defense by the Outliers and when the team needed a key save, Collin Soderholm was there for the club. Utah extended its lead to 3-0 when Utah defenseman Luc Modry made a strong pinch at the blue line and sent the puck down the wall and behind the Bulls net where Shafaat Hashim made a quick centering pass to Luke Volkmann who one-timed the pass into the back of the net. The Outliers would close out the scoring in the game when Easton Armstrong collected a blocked puck in his defensive zone and flipped it into the air to his brother Dawson Armstrong who would slide his shot into an open net as the Bulls had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.
The Outliers are back in action on Wednesday, November 25th as they play on the road against the Provo Riverblades at 7:30 PM. Utah will then play host to the Ogden Mustangs on Saturday, November 28th at 7:30 PM at the Maverik Center. All games can be found on live stream broadcast at Hockeytv.com.