by Paul Taylor


The Outliers hosted the Pueblo Bulls on Friday. The game was the first of two matchups between the clubs and their last regular season series against one another. This contest had plenty of hard-hitting action and intense battles which has become customary with these two clubs.

The first period started with both teams applying aggressive checking pressure and some solid physical play. Both clubs were determined to assert their will against the opponent in an attempt to grab some early momentum. 

Pueblo captured that momentum first when they scored at the 9:36 mark as defenseman Will Sinclair found the back of the net for his twelfth of the year to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead. The Outliers responded with a goal of their own when Jake Howard blasted a shot top shelf off a great pass from teammate Daniil Chuparnov. 

The period ended with the score tied 1-1 but the shots favored the Outliers by a margin of 16-9. Outliers goalie, Philip Rondina was back in the net for Utah and stood tall against the Bulls in the opening frame. 

The second period started quickly for Pueblo as they were able to capitalize on an Outlier turnover just over a minute into the action to grab a 2-1 lead. At the 4:54 mark, Jack Hanson extended Pueblo's lead when the visitors converted on the powerplay. Despite some solid scoring chances of their own, the Outliers were denied by Bulls netminder Beau Altman and headed to the locker room trailing 3-1.

The third period played out much like the second, with Pueblo converting for their fifth goal of the game just five minutes into the final frame. The Bulls would tack on their fifth and final goal at the 12:41 mark when Jack Hanson found the back of the net on the powerplay for his second tally of the night. Utah would score with just a minute remaining in the game when forward Daniil Chuparnov redirected a point shot past the Bulls netminder.

It was a valiant effort by the Outliers as they peppered the Pueblo goaltender with 50 shots but the club's lack of scoring cost them in this game and the team came up empty in the win column. 


On Saturday, the Outliers were looking for revenge against the Bulls. The two teams were back at the Acord Ice Center and Utah was looking forward to the opportunity to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd. 

It didn't take long to see that the Outliers were ready to play on this night as they displayed a tremendous amount of energy from the drop of the puck. The team established an intense forecheck early which gave the Bulls a lot of trouble in exiting their zone. 

It didn't take long for Utah to make an offensive statement in this contest as the team got on the board just a few minutes into the game. Garrett Joss collected the puck deep in the Bulls zone and took the puck hard to the net where he made a backdoor pass to Carson Strapon who tapped it in the back of the open cage.

The Outliers added their second goal of the evening with just over three minutes remaining in the opening period to earn a 2-0 lead. Utah forward, Michael Schwartz grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, drove down the right side of the ice into the Bulls zone, and took the puck hard to the net. Schwartz's shot on goal was initially stopped by the Pueblo netminder but Daniil Chuparnov was there to bang home the rebound. 

Just over a minute later, Utah defenseman Connor Mariner scored the club's third goal of the period when he was left all alone at the side of the Bulls net. Mariner fired his shot top shell to give the home team a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission. 

In the second period, Utah was adding to their offensive onslaught when just a minute into the frame, forward Makar Klochkov banged home a rebound off a point shot to give Utah a 4-0 lead. 

At the 7:02 mark, it was Garrett Joss and Carson Strapon connecting once again to give the home team a 5-0 lead. Joss gained control of the puck in the Bulls zone and rolled up high to the blue line where he released a shot that was deflected into the net by Strapon. 

Utah notched its sixth goal at the 9:35 mark off a quick transition play in the neutral zone. Garrett Joss entered the Pueblo zone and dished a pass to Makar Klochkov who drove to the net and put a shot on goal. Joss would sprint to the net after his pass and tap in the rebound. 

The third period had both teams adding one goal each. The Bulls scored off a nifty entry play while on playing the power play to ruin Philip Rondina's shutout attempt. Utah's Carson Strapon completed the scoring for the game when he fired a quick shot off an offensive zone face-off. This goal would give Strapon a hat trick and earn himself the 1st star of the game. 

The Outliers delivered a dominant performance to earn a well-deserved 7-1 victory. Utah outshot the Bulls by a margin of 37-22.