by Paul Taylor

Hockey is back! The Utah Outliers have been back on the ice for training camp in preparation for the 2018-19 hockey campaign. After a very successful season last year, the Outliers are looking to take the next step as they pursue a WSHL Thorne Cup Championship. Coming into their third year in the WSHL, Utah is primed and ready as they believe they have built a team with the right mix of talent and character to achieve their mission.

In their first year, the Outliers carried a 30-18-4 record and advanced to the second round of playoffs. Last season the team showed improvement, posting a 39-11-1 record and finishing first in the Mountain Division and then playing at the Thorne Cup championship.

This season, Utah is looking to improve yet again, and achieve the goal of being crowned WSHL champions. The 2018-19 team has a different look, as the Outliers have brought in some younger but highly touted players while adding more size and speed across the roster. This year’s team is also unique in that 9 different states are represented, along with 6 different countries.

The early strength of the Outliers looks to be in team speed. Every player on the roster can get up and down the ice at a very good pace. There is also a very good blend of size and skill. In net, all three goaltenders have started earning their stripes by making some dazzling saves throughout training camp.

As they have done the last two years, the Outliers will compete in the very competitive Mountain Division. The division consists of four other teams: Ogden Mustangs, Casper Bobcats, Cheyenne Stampede, and Steamboat Wranglers. The team will compete in a 52 game schedule, playing teams from within the division, along with out of division games against the Oklahoma City Blazers, El Paso Rhinos, Long beach Bombers, Ontario Avalanche and Northern Colorado Eagles.

This year’s roster for the Outliers sees six returners back in black. Zach Dornseifer, Benji Mickel, Kaeden Meuer, and Philip Magni all return up front. Christian Bundschuh and Brad McCloskey will once again patrol the blue line. This group is no stranger to the WSHL or what it takes to win games. Utah is fortunate to have these players as a solid core to help usher in new players.

Another player who is familiar with the WSHL comes in the form of Anthony Masanotti. 'Maz' comes to the Outliers by way of the Phoenix Knights. Last season he tallied 40 goals and helped lead the Knights to their best season in recent years. Some other notable veterans who should make an impact on the roster include Dylan Dix who comes to the team with NAHL experience, Jake Papesh, Zak Albers, Ryley Bast, and Tristan Slot. In net, both Kenton Kim and Jack Walsh played last season in the USPHL, whereas Oscar Wahlgren comes to Utah from playing J20 Div1 in Sweden.

A first year player to keep an eye out for this season is Mikey Power out of England. Last season Power put up a staggering 38 goals in just 16 games for Okanagon’s English U18 team. Three Czech natives (Jakub Lelek, Miroslav Hradecky, Honza Dvorak) will also add a nice dynamic to the team with their combination of skill, speed, and work ethic. Two other players who will be exciting to watch are forwards Josh Friend and Alexander Charin. Both have shown some solid raw ability to make dazzling plays.

The Outliers will kick of the season Sept 29th at 6:30 PM at the Acord Ice Center as the Outliers will host their state rival, the Ogden Mustangs. Be sure to mark your calendars and get ready for another great season of Outlier hockey!

Stay tuned for more information leading up to the 'Home Opener' as we will preview the Outliers and Mustangs as they prepare to battle on opening night of the 2018-19 WSHL season.