Weekend recap: Outliers take Thunderbirds
The Outliers picked up two wins in their three game series against the visiting Las Vegas Thunderbirds. This series ended up being closely contested with back and forth action and strong goaltending by both teams. The Outliers will now begin to prepare for next weekend's series against the Ogden Mustangs.
Utah Outliers 4, Las Vegas Thunderbirds 1
Ethan Knutsen got free from his man and beat Rhett Bruckner on the break away to give Utah the game-winning goal at 9:14 of the second. Oscar Wahlgren was strong in making 23 saves to make the victory possible against the Outlier’s second Western Division opponent of the season.
Although Las Vegas was outshot in the first frame by almost double their amount, they were able to get Utah on its heels with the opening goal from Anthony Rodriguez at 3:31. Rodriguez intercepted a pass in the Outliers zone and shot a bullet over goaltender Wahlgren's blocker.
Utah tightened the vice-grip after the opening frame holding the Thunderbirds to only three shots. Vegas’s inability to produce quality chances did not couple well with the concerted effort presented by four different Outliers who got on the board.
Jakub Lelek’s power play goal at 15:47 of the second stanza tied it and got the night started for Utah. Lelek walked the blue line and shot through a screen and the puck found its way past Buckner's blocker. Shortly thereafter, Knutsen netted the game-winner on a breakaway as he received a pass from defenseman Ishmael Carrington. Austin Heinrich and Ben Doherty added the insurance goals to seal the win.
Las Vegas Thunderbirds 3, Utah Outliers 2
Tomas Urbanec zipped through the Utah zone on the right wing and fed a well-positioned Joseph Wheeler who deflected the centering feed into the net for the game-winner.
Rhett Bruckner stopped 29 of 31 shots securing his fifth win of the season. Micah Hershey was also solid in the Outliers net making various saves to keep the game close.
The Thunderbirds earned an important road win against a top team and avoid being swept by another Northwest Division opponent.
Vegas scored first for the second night in a row with a short-handed goal from Joseph Terrana at 14:08 of the first. Utah remained the higher shooting team and the frequent production came to fruition as Austin Heinrich tied it 1-1.
Ben Doherty gave Utah their only lead at 11:20 of the second stanza as he made a nifty move on a breakaway to give the Outliers the lead 2-1 heading into the third frame. Emil Svartbro’s unassisted tally at 19:19 allowed the Thunderbirds to tie the game . Later in the third period the Thunderbirds would steal the game when they connected on a cross crease pass that found its way in the net for the winning goal.
Utah Outliers 2, Las Vegas Thunderbirds 1
Luke Parry was the Sunday hero when he scored the game-winner to continue the Outliers’ dominant home record at the Acord Ice Center. Micah Hershey made 19 saves in the winning effort. He had to acclimate to a busier second half of the game after only facing three shots in the first period. Hershey did come up with a couple of key breakaway saves which were critical in keeping Vegas off the board at key moments of the game.
Utah took the opening goal initiative in this game when defenseman Tristan Slot scored within the first minute of play by putting a shot through Buckner's arm as he walked in alone from the point.
Las Vegas could not convert on a tying bid until the final minute of the second period. It was Emil Svartbro who converted to make it 1-1 by shooting a laser into the top corner past Outliers goaltender Micah Hershey.
The Outliers were able to tighten up defensively the rest of the way and hold on to their one goal lead to secure the victory.
The Outliers will now prepare for this weekend's home-and-home series against state rival Ogden Mustangs. Saturday's game will be the Outliers annual Teddy Bear Toss game. Last year the team donated over 700 stuffed toys to underprivileged kids. Game time will be 6:30 PM at the Acord Ice Center in West Valley.