by Paul Taylor

This past weekend the Utah Outliers travelled to Superior, Colorado to take on the Superior Roughriders in their last three game series of the regular season. The weekend also was a possible preview of the first round opponents Utah may face in the second weekend of the playoffs. All three games were a battle, with the Outliers taking two (one in overtime) and the Roughriders taking one. The weekend was filled with big hits, spectacular goal scoring, and showed why the Mountain Division is so tough.

In game one, the Outliers jumped out early as a nice feed from Oskars Ancitis and Kane Toriumi allowed Roman Svik to start the game off early. Ancitis then doubled the Outliers lead on a powerplay goal with assists from Mattias Wikstrom and Brandon Krumpschmid. The Roughriders responded soon after the Outlier’s second goal, but Svik would again put Utah up by two. Jan Pixa and Kaeden Meuer were awarded assists. The Outliers went into the second period and once again struck early. Erik Safstrom slid a pass to Christian Bundschuh who blistered a shot that ricocheted onto Zach Dornseifer’s stick who made no mistake burying. Superior again did not show signs of quitting as they scored two goals just one minute apart. The second period concluded with a 4-3 Outlier lead. In the third frame, the Outliers tacked on two more goals courtesty of Dylan Massie. Vladislav Buyanov, Dornseifer, and Jacob Wanstrom collected assists. Dawson Rodin made 19 saves in the win.

Game two featured a battle of two’s. Each team scored twice in a row two times each. Utah struck first scoring in the first frame on goals by Wikstrom and Dornseifer. In the second, Superior responded with two goals of their own in the second. The score would return to Utah’s favor as Philip Rodhe-Magni found Dylan Massie who outmuscled two defenders and scored a brilliant one-handed goal. In the third period, Kane Toriumi put Utah up by two yet again, before the Roughriders scored two more to once again tie the game. For the first time all season, Superior and Utah headed to overtime. Superior’s goaltender stood tall and thwarted all of Utah’s attempts, but in the second overtime Dylan Massie once again stole the show, burying his second of the game on a beautiful breakaway feed from Kane Toriumi. Utah outshot Superior 53-20 and Cedric Lesieur earned 16 saves to win his second game in black and yellow.

On Sunday, Superior came out swinging in the final game of the regular season. The home team took a 2-0 lead until late in the first when Wanstrom showed a beautiful individual effort to steal the puck, walk in alone on the Superior D, and score. In the second frame the Roughriders scored first again in what would be the only goal of the period. The Outliers went into the third in unfamiliar territory being down by two. Another fantastic individual effort by Benji Mickel while shorthanded brought the Outliers within one goal. The Roughriders regained their two goal lead a few minutes later, and then increased that lead to three one minute after that. The Outliers kept the pressure on and managed to score two more goals thanks to Massie and Meuer, however the comeback would fall just short. Although outshooting Superior 38-20, the Roughriders were opportunistic and capitalized on their chances throughout the game. 

To wrap up the series, the Outliers hold the edge with a 5-1 record. It should be a very interesting playoff matchup if these two are to meet up again. Utah has a few weeks to heal up and rest, while preparing to face either the Casper Coyotes or the Roughriders in the playoffs.