The Utah Outliers continued their hot streak at home as they swept the Northern Colorado Eagles in a two-game set by a score of 6-4 and 4-3 (OT). Utah is now 9-0-1 in their last ten games, giving them a record of 24-2-1 and putting them at the top of the Mountain division standings.
Utah Outliers 6, Northern Colorado Eagles 4 (Friday, Dec 9th)
Utah got off to a strong start on Friday, which has been a reoccurring theme for the club this season. The Outliers carried much of the early 5-on-5 play and pressured the Eagle's net but were unable to solve the Northern Colorado netminder who made a handful of quality saves.
Utah's pressure eventually paid off at the 11:44 mark of the opening frame while playing shorthanded. Outliers defenseman, Magnus Einarson was called for tripping, putting the home team a man down for two minutes.
While killing the penalty, Utah forward Will Cohen applied pressure on the Eagle's puck carrier up at the blue line which created a turnover that led to 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Cohen skated the puck up the left side of the ice and upon entering the Northern Colorado zone put a pass onto the stick of his teammate Emrik Froding who deposited the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 Utah lead.
Northern Colorado answered shortly after to tie the game at the 4:38 mark of the opening period while cycling the puck in the Outliers zone. Utah's defense had a chance to clear the puck out of its zone when a board battle ensued close to the blue line. The failed clearing attempt proved costly for Utah as the Eagles regained control of the puck and attacked the net for the tying goal.
The Outliers responded exactly how good teams do; by wasting no time to add another goal of their own and take back the momentum for a 2-1 lead. Just a minute after the Eagles had tied the game, Emrik Froding scored his second goal of the evening. The play started with Utah dumping the puck into the Eagle's zone and a heavy forecheck was applied by Froding as he created a turnover behind the Northern Colorado net. After creating the turnover, Froding captured control of the puck and attempted to pass it to a teammate in front of the net but his centering pass accidentally deflected off the Northern Colorado goalie's stick and into the back of the net.
Utah added one more goal before the conclusion of the period while playing on the power play. Outlier's defenseman Donovan Burdette shot the puck from the blue line and the rebound found its way into the slot where Paul Waldhauser was quick to pounce on the loose puck and rifle the shot cleanly past the Eagles netminder.
The two teams headed to the locker room with Utah leading by a score of 3-1 and outshooting the Eagles by a margin of 12-6. Outliers goalie Nathan Dickey was making his third consecutive start for the home club and he made some timely saves in the opening period to keep his team in the lead.
The second period proved to be a tale of two games. The first ten minutes of the second frame belonged to Utah as they controlled much of the possession and zone time over the Eagles. Lucas Ouellette helped the Outliers extend their lead to 4-1 when he was rewarded for driving to the net on a point shot and received a fortunate bounce that saw the puck deflect off his body and into the net.
It appeared as if Utah may extend the score even further when the team was awarded a 5-on-3 power play. With two Eagles players called for infractions, Utah's power play went to work but came up empty and Northern Colorado was able to escape without any further damage.
Once Utah's 5-on-3 power play ended the game soon shifted and it was the Eagles stealing the momentum as the visitors cashed in on two goals due to some sloppy play by the Outliers. The Eagle's third goal of the night came off a poor turnover by Utah which allowed the Eagles to convert into a goal and narrow Utah's lead to 3-2. Shortly after scoring their second goal, Northern Colorado got another goal off a face-off win in the Outliers zone. The puck was won by Northern Colorado off the draw and they wasted no time burying it into the Utah net.
The second period buzzer sent both teams to the locker room with Utah ahead by a score of 4-3 but the Eagles had now gained some momentum which set the stage for an exciting third period and put the game up for grabs. Utah outshot Northern Colorado in the second period by a margin of 15-7.
The third period demonstrated a lot of tight checking by both teams and therefore not much offense was created by either club. On the few occasions where either team was able to break free from checking pressure and create a scoring chance, the goalies were up to the task and shut the door. The game appeared as if it would go down to the wire with Utah leading 4-3 but with under three minutes remaining in the game, Utah knotted their fifth goal of the night.
Utah started a nice breakout from their own zone which created a 2-on-1 odd-man rush on the play. Utah forward Grant Parshall led the charge up ice and when entering the Northern Colorado zone he slid a pass over to teammate Paul Waldhauser who was breaking to the net. Upon receiving the pass, Waldhauser made a nice deke past the Eagle's netminder to finish off the play and bury the puck.
Utah added an empty net goal to give them a 6-3 lead but Northern Colorado would not quit and once again stormed back with another goal of their own while on the power play. The clock ticked down and the Outliers skated off with the 6-4 victory, earning them another 'W' in the win column.
Utah Outliers 4, Northern Colorado Eagles 3 (Sunday, Dec 11th)
On Sunday, the two teams were back in action for an afternoon game. Northern Colorado came into the contest looking for some revenge and hoping to snap the Outlier's win streak while Utah looked to continue to assert themselves over the Eagles and continue their winning ways.
The Outliers started goaltender Marco Felictetti who came into the game with an 8-2-0 record and a .902 save percentage, The Eagles gave the nod to their young netminder Evan Stringer who had played some big games for his team recently.
The first period started off with a quick pace and a lot of back-and-forth action between the two teams as well as some physical play. Neither team wanted to give an inch to their opponent and both clubs asserted their defensive game early. When either team was fortunate enough to muster up some scoring chances, both goalies were up to the task and would come up big to keep the score tied at 0-0 heading into the first intermission. Shots on goal in the first period were 12 for Utah and 7 for Northern Colorado.
In the second period, Utah came out fast and furious and pressured the Eagle's zone with a lot of aggressiveness and puck possession time which led to an early goal at the 15:45 mark. While playing in the Eagles zone a board battle ensued low in the corner where Utah's Lucas Ouellette won possession of the puck and sent a pass up to the point and onto the stick of defenseman Matthew Koepke. Controlling the puck at the blue line, Koepke released a quick shot on the net, and forward Emrik Froding got his stick on the puck and tipped it past a surprised Eagles netminder for a 1-0 Utah lead.
Just a few minutes later at the 11:50 mark, Utah added its second goal of the contest after a clean breakout in their own zone led to an offensive rush up the ice. Paul Waldhauser received a pass on the breakout and carried the puck through the neutral zone where he entered the Eagles zone wide and then dished a pass to the middle of the ice to defenseman Magnus Einarson who had jumped into the rush. Gathering the pass, Einerson released a quick shot from the slot that beat the Eagles goaltender low to the far side for a 2-0 Utah lead.
After a tight-checking first period, goals were coming at a rapid rate and just minutes after the Outliers had taken a 2-0 lead, Northern Colorado found their first goal of the afternoon to make it 2-1. The Eagles gained control of the puck high in the Utah zone and took a seemingly harmless shot from the blue line that was deflected through the legs of Outliers goalie Marco Felicetti.
Utah stormed back and found its third goal of the game at the 9:57 mark as Utah defenseman Alex Shluep released a shot from the point and teammate Kael Delzer pounced on the rebound and slipped it past the Northern Colorado goaltender. The second period came to an end with Utah leading by a score of 3-1 and outshooting the Eagles 21-6 in the period.
The third period started off similar to the second frame with the Outliers controlling most of the puck possession and spending a lot of time in the Eagle's zone. Goaltender Evan Stringer stood tall for his club and thwarted away numerous chances to keep his team in the game. As the period wore on the momentum of the game turned abruptly in favor of the Eagles. Utah found themselves in a bunch of penalty trouble that allowed Northern Colorado to soar back into the game and capitalize with two power play goals and tie the game up at 3-3. This game would now need overtime to decide a winner.
In overtime, Utah put a dagger in the Eagle's hopes for a comeback win. Gaining possession of the puck, the Outliers made their way into the Northern Colorado zone where forward Nikolas Schwab would control the puck along the sideboards and eventually escape the pressure from an Eagles defender. Having created some space for himself, Schwab passed the puck off to teammate Grant Parshall who found some room in the slot and quickly fired a beautiful shot top shelf for a 4-3 Utah victory!
Utah finished the game outshooting the Eagles by a margin of 49-25. Marco Felicetti picked up another win for his team and improved his record to 9-2-0.
Utah is back in action on Thursday, December 15th when they travel to Idaho Falls to take on the Spud Kings at Mountain America Center. You can catch all the action streamed live on HOCKEYTV.