Outliers sweep Southern Oregon Spartans
The Utah Outliers celebrated their home opener in dominant fashion, sweeping the Southern Oregon Spartans this past weekend. The Outliers strung together three impressive wins by a combined score of 22-4, increasing their winning streak to four games, and improving their record to 5-3-0 in the 2017-18 WSHL season. The Outliers saw scoring from a multitude of players, veterans and rookies, throughout the weekend.
Friday, October 13th
In Friday’s contest, Utah started the scoring off early on their first power-play chance of the night, when Zack Hoffman blasted a shot past goalie Austin Toussaint just six minutes into the game. Gianni Vitali and Dylan Massie picked up assists. A little over half way into the first, another powerplay led to a Roman Svik goal, with assists going to Hoffman and Vitali. The Outliers kept the pressure on, and with a minute remaining in the period, Svik sauced a pass to Massie, who then slid the puck across the net to Vitali. Vitali quickly shot the puck into the back of the net for the team’s third power-play goal of the game.
Entering the second period with a dominant 3-0 lead over the Spartans, the Outliers were eager to keep their foot on the gas by playing at a high tempo. The period saw a barrage of action from the Outliers, but Toussaint stood tall and kept the Spartans down by just three. Late in the second frame, another penalty led to a short-handed Benji Mickel goal, coming from Massie. The Outlier’s four-goal lead did not last long, as Southern Oregon won the next faceoff and Spartan’s Axel Low buried their only tally of the night.
In the third period, the Outlier’s power-play unit came through for Utah once again, when Oskars Ancitis sent the fifth goal of the game past Toussaint. Assists went to Vitali and Hoffman. Late in the game, Svik scored his second of the night, and the only even strength goal of the game, with assists coming from Kane Toriumi and Mickel.
Goaltender Otto Saxin earned a big win in his first game with the Outliers. Saxin made a few key saves throughout the game to ensure the Utah’s dominant victory. The Outliers special teams were also a key factor in the win as they were responsible for three power-play goals and one short-handed tally.
Saturday, October 14th
In game two, the Outliers exerted their dynamic offense yet again. Ten minutes into the game, a beautifully set up power-play resulted in a tic-tac-toe passing play from Hoffman to Vitali, which found Kane Toriumi alone in the slot. Toriumi finished the play with a beautiful top-corner snipe past Spartan’s goaltender Krystof Holub. Almost one minute later, Alex McCloskey scored his first of the season on assists from Spencer Langille-Crowe and Benji Mickel. Rounding out the scoring in the frame was another first-year player, Locke Wischmann, with McCloskey and Holden McCulluch collecting the assists.
In the second period, Ancitis picked up his second goal in as many nights, with assists from Captain Jacob Wanstrom and Zack Evans. The 4-goal lead would stand until another Outlier’s power-play strike at the seven-minute mark in the period. Oskar Ancitis found Bogdan Khvatov on the half-wall, who then distributed the puck to Hoffman. Hoffman ripped a blistering slap-shot from the point and found the back of the net off the play. With the clock winding down in the period, another Utah power-play opportunity refused to be denied. Zack Evans shot the puck to Svik’s stick, who deflected the puck right onto Toriumi’s tape and into the empty net, for Kane’s second of the game.
The Outliers entered the third period up 6-0, and they did not let up as they continued to apply pressure on the Spartans. With just under five minutes remaining in the game, McCloskey hammered a highlight reel slap shot past goalie Holub. Not to be outdone by his line-mate, a minute later Wischmann picked up the puck behind the Southern Oregon net and tucked in a wrap-around for his second goal of the night.
Dawson Rodin collected his first shutout of the season for the Outliers. The Utah power-play unit held strong and was a huge part of the fire-power behind the crushing win over the Spartans.
Sunday, October 15th
In the final match of the three-game series, the Utah Outliers sealed the fate for South Oregon. The Spartans put up a fight, but the offensive onslaught from Utah was too much for the opposition to stop.
The Outliers wasted no time in the contest as first-year forward Kaeden Meuer buried a shot right under the bar less than four minutes in, finishing on great passes from Roman Svik and Christian Bundschuh. The Spartans evened the game eight minutes in, with the goal coming from Jakub Mercir. However, less than thirty seconds later, young forward Artem Popov netted the first goal of his junior hockey career, a reward stemming from great, hardworking plays by Meuer and Wischmann. The scoring barrage kept going, and exactly one minute later Dylan Massie scored a power-play goal from the side of the net off a rebound. Assists came from Hoffman and Vitali.
The Outliers entered the second period up 3-1 over the Spartans. Just thirty-five seconds into the second period, returning sniper Khvatov capitalized on a four-on-four situation, with assists from Hoffman and Viktor Burman. On par for this game, the visiting team struck back a mere thirty seconds later. The Spartan’s goal came from Mercir, marking his second tally of the match. The Spartans then cut the lead to just one halfway through the second, but once again the Outliers would not see their lead dwindle. Dylan Massie capitalized on another power-play chance, with assists from Hoffman and Vitali. Thirty seconds later, Zack Evans scored his first of the season, set up by Khvatov and Vitali. Hoffman added to the lead even more with just fewer than five to play, giving the Outliers a 6-2 advantage entering the final period.
In the last period of the weekend, the Outliers closed out the series with aggressive play and more of the same offensive firepower. Meuer buried his second of the game, assisted by Popov and McCloskey. The final blow to the Spartans weekend came in the form of a beautiful breakaway with Mickel going top shelf on a great stretch pass from Burman.
Goaltender Trenton Wendt got the start for the Outliers in this game and earned his first ever junior hockey win with a 20 save performance. The young netminder turned away some solid chances throughout the game, frustrating the Spartans offense.
The three-game series was the first of two these teams will play, as the Outliers will travel to Medford, Oregon in November to take on the Spartans in the “Madhouse”. Next weekend, the Outliers head to Casper, Wyoming for a three-game series against their WSHL Mountain division rivals, the Casper Coyotes.
By Carly Tashman