Utah Outliers Sweep their Showcase
The Utah Outliers participated in the USPHL’s Mountain West Showcase in Provo, Utah on Feb 2-5. Six teams gathered in Provo Utah to play four games in four days. Three of the four Pacific Division teams came to Utah to face off against the three teams in Utah who make up three of the five teams in the Mountain Division.
The Las Vegas Thunderbirds, Fresno Monsters, Anaheim Avalanche, Utah Outliers, Ogden Mustangs, and Provo Riverblades all faced off against each other for a great week of hockey. There was a lot of great action, hard-hitting, fantastic goals, and sensational saves during the showcase.
Game #1 Recap: Utah Outliers vs Fresno Monsters
The Outliers' first game was against the green and black Fresno Monsters from California. This was the first game of the 2020-2021 season that the Outliers faced a team outside of their Mountain Division. The excitement was felt on and off the ice for this opportunity to compete against an unknown opponent. The Outliers started the game fast and furious put pressure on Fresno immediately from the opening puck drop and controlled much of the play.
Fresno was the debut game for the newest member of the Utah Outliers. Forward Liam Tivers joined the club for his first game and made an impact immediately setting up the first goal of the contest. Tivers made a slick saucer pass to teammate Alex Charin who buried his shot top shelf past the Fresno goaltender. The Outliers would head into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the game, the Outliers continued their decisive play and took home the win by a score of 4-1. Collin Soderholm was steady in the net and fended off 33 off the 34 shots that came his way.
Game #2 Recap: Utah Outliers vs Anaheim Avalanche
Game #2 was a significant game for the Outliers as it was the first start of the season for Outliers goaltender Fabian Pozzera. Pozzera who is from Austria had been training hard all season and waiting for his chance to shine. The team was united and ready to support him just as much as he was ready to do his part in securing the win of this game.
The Outliers took once again got off to a fast start and controlled the puck in the Avalanche's zone for long stretches of time. Anaheim's goalie was up to the challenge and made some big saves from all angles and forced the Outliers players work hard to find the back of the net. The Outliers would eventually skate off with a 3-1 victory and blasting 61 shots on the Anaheim net.
The team was happy to earn the two points for the win and also excited for goaltender Fabian Pozzera who made some key saves to earn his first junior hockey career win. Pozerra was awarded the Outliers 'player of the game' afterward in the locker room.
Game #3 Recap: Utah Outliers vs the Las Vegas Thunderbirds
In game #3, the Utah Outliers faced off against the Pacific Division’s leading ranked team the Las Vegas Thunderbirds. The T- Birds were coming to the showcase having had a strong season and were ready to battle against the Outliers.
This game showcased a lot of back and forth action with both teams generating some good chances but both goalies were up to the task and made some good saves in the first two periods. By the end of the second period, the Outliers had the lead by the score of 2-1.
The T- Birds were hungry for a win after losing their first two games in the showcase and they fought hard against the Outliers in the third period looking to make a comeback in an effort to earn the win. The Thunderbirds effort would pay off as they scored early in the third period during a power play and then later in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. The Outliers would make a comeback of their own and tie the game and force it to overtime when forward Nikolas Schwab who has been on a hot streak the past three weeks found the back of the net and brought the game to a tie with only 2:07 left in the third period.
In the 3-on-3 OT, the Outliers would get the victory. Forward, Brett Morich skated into the Thunderbirds zone and cut across the offensive zone looking like he was about to shoot but then quickly made a nifty 'no-look' backhand pass to the backdoor to teammate Dawson Armstrong who buried the puck into the open cage for the 4-3 win.
Goaltender Doug Connor skated away with the win in net and helped the Outliers continue their winning streak.
Game #4 Utah Outliers vs Fresno Monsters
Game #4 of the showcase was a rematch between the Outliers and the Fresno Monsters. The Monsters were intent on evening up the series with Utah and breaking their win streak. Fresno started the game determined and played with a lot of pace and physicality. The Outliers would eventually find their legs and exert some of their pressure at the Fresno net and began to take over the period. Forwards John McLaughlin and Luke Volkmann put two goals in the net in the first period and the Outliers kept the Monsters limited to only 6 shots on goal. Utah headed into the locker room after period one leading by a score of 2-0.
In the second period, the pace of the game was significantly different and felt more evenly controlled between the Monsters and the Outliers. The Monsters responded with a better defensive effort and began to apply more offensive pressure on the Outliers. Fortunately for the Outliers, forward Leeam Tivers struck with his first goal with the team
assisted by forward Niko Schwab and Alex Charin to increase the Outliers’ lead to 3-0. Fresno would find some scoring of their own and narrow the lead later in the second period to narrow Utah's lead to 3-1.
The third period saw more scoring as both teams found additional offensive output. Fresno would score half way through the period to narrow Utah's lead to 3-2. The Outliers would call a timeout to regroup and talk things over and immediately after the timeout, Utah's Luke Volkmann would streak down the right-wing and blast a slap shot top shelf to give the Outliers another two-goal lead, making it 4-2. Utah's John McLaughlin would extend the Outliers lead to 5-2 with a great shot of his own while skating down the wing and shooting it top shelf.
Fresno would not go away quietly as they would score two more goals of their own late in the game to narrow the Outliers' lead to 5-4. The final minutes of the game were hectic as the Monsters continued to apply pressure at Utah's net but the team defended hard until the final buzzer to win their fourth consecutive game of the showcase and get their sixth consecutive win.