Outliers Take Down Mustangs
The Utah Outliers were back in action on Saturday as they traveled to the Ice Sheet in Ogden to take on their state rival, the Ogden Mustangs. This would be the second meeting of the season between these two teams and there was no love lost in this contest which was an intense battle from start to finish.
The Outliers have been riding a wave of momentum entering their game against Ogden, winning 11 out of their past 12 games. The team was set on continuing its hot streak as they entered Saturday's contest and resume one the best rivalries in the entire USPHL. This game did not disappoint and lived up to the hype that had many viewers watching closely.
This game began as many expected, fast and furious. Both teams were determined to set the tempo early and try to assert their will over the opponent. From the drop of the puck, there was a lot of tight checking by both clubs which limited the offensive space and scoring attempts for both sides. As the period wore on things began to loosen up a bit but each time one of the teams managed to generate an opportunity it was denied by the goaltenders who were up to the task.
The first period came to an end with neither team giving an inch and both clubs unable to convert on any of their prime scoring chances. The shots on goal after the first period were 13-8 in favor of the Mustangs and neither team was able to find the back of the net.
In the second period, the two teams continued their chess match play with action going back and forth at both ends of the ice. As the period wore on, Utah started to establish its forecheck and exert consistent offensive pressure in the Ogden zone. Although the extended offensive zone time didn't lead to an immediate goal for the visitors, it took its toll on the home team as they drew a penalty to put Utah on the power play.
While on the power play, Utah controlled the puck and worked it in Ogden's zone as they set up their various power play options. The unit passed the puck around the zone effectively and created a few good chances but nothing could get past Ogden's netminder, Trey Hirschfield, and eventually, the Mustangs regained possession of the puck and sent it down the ice.
With the puck being sent down the ice by the Mustangs, Utah retreated back to its own end to initiate its power play breakout. Collecting the puck behind the net, Utah defenseman, Magnus Einarson skated up the ice and completed a pass to Will Cohen who then made a pass to teammate Miles Mccue breaking up the right side in the neutral zone. Upon receiving the pass, Mccue would make a nifty move past an Ogden defender at the Mustang's blue line and break in on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with Cohen. Mccue skated in off the rush and faked his shot on net and then slipped a slick pass over to Cohen who buried the puck into the far side of the open cage. This goal gave Utah a 1-0 lead at the 11:23 mark of the period.
Utah's lead was short-lived as the visitors found themselves in penalty trouble of their own which sent Ogden to the power play and a chance to convert with the man advantage. The Mustangs won an offensive zone face-off and worked the puck up high in the zone for a shot on goal. The initial shot was stopped by Utah goalie Nathan Dickey but the rebound lay loose in the crease and was tapped in by an Ogden forward to tie the game at 1-1.
The second period concluded with both teams deadlocked at 1-1. For two periods, neither team was able to find any scoring at even strength as both goals came off the stick while on a power play. The period ended with Ogden's Hirschfield making 14 saves and Utah's Dickey blocking 6 of Ogden's attempts.
The final period proved to be like most games between these two teams, a barnburner. Utah grabbed a 2-1 lead at the 15:11 mark off a fantastic individual effort by Outliers' forward, Paul Waldhauser. Collecting the puck off a breakout pass, Waldhauser skated through the neutral zone with speed and attacked the Ogden defenseman where he made a highlight reel move to split through the two defenders and ended the play with a backhand-to-forehand move to slip the puck into a wide-open net.
Utah extended its lead to 3-1 on another power play goal at the 8:58 mark. It was once again Utah's Miles McCue driving the offense as the unit moved the puck around the Mustang's zone. McCue would make a couple of passes to his teammates and then take possession of the puck high on the right side of the zone and zip a beautiful cross-ice pass onto the stick of Leyton Pettypiece who released a one-timer shot past Hirschfield.
Just when it looked as if Utah was in full control of the game, Ogden would capitalize on its next scoring chance just a couple of minutes later to narrow the Outlier's lead to 3-2. Ogden captured the puck in the neutral zone and attacked the Utah net off the rush for a shot on goal that was stopped by netminder Dickey but the rebound found its way back onto a Mustang player's stick and into the back of the net.
With just 27 seconds left in the game and the score 3-2 for Utah, the Mustangs pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker with a face-off in the Outliers zone. Utah won the critical face-off and rimmed the puck around the far boards where it slid out of the zone and onto the stick of an Outliers' player. While Skating up the ice and with an open net to shoot the puck into, Utah accidentally turned the puck over which resulted in a counter-attack by Ogden. The Mustang's attack made its way into the Outliers' zone and with the clock winding down, the puck was flung toward the Outliers' net and landed on the stick of an Ogden player who quickly shot it past Dickey to tie the game at 4-4 with four seconds remaining on the clock.
The two teams looked to win the game in 3-on-3 overtime but nothing could be settled in extra time as both goalies came up big for their team and shut the door on all scoring opportunities. The game ended up heading to a shootout to decide a winner which added a little more excitement and drama to the fast-paced action that was demonstrated all night.
In the shootout, Utah sealed the game for a 4-3 victory. The Outliers scored on its first two shootout attempts by Leyton Pettypiece and Emrik Froding to win the game as Outliers' goaltender Nathan Dickey slammed the door on both Mustang shots. Another battle of Utah came to an end with the Outliers skating off the ice in victory!