by Website Admin

The Utah Outliers emerged victorious in a pair of games this past weekend. The club earned a weekend sweep by defeating the Provo Predators 6-3 and the Idaho Falls Spud Kings 5-3. 

Utah Outliers 6, Provo Predators 3 (Friday, February 16th)

On Friday night, the Outliers hosted the Provo Predators for their final matchup of the regular season. Utah had already earned seven wins against Provo thus far this season and was determined to make it eight. 

Blake Johnson opened the scoring for Provo early at the 3:32 mark of the first period. Although the Outliers found themselves down early in the contest they began to find their footing and elevate their play despite the deficit. 

Ryan Cooper helped the Outliers get on the board and even the score at 1-1 when he buried a shot past Provo netminder Ryan Henry at the halfway point of the period. Cooper found himself all alone after teammate Magzhan Sagadiev tipped a puck into open space which Cooper recovered and fired into the back of the net. 

The period appeared as if it was going to end deadlocked at 1-1 but Utah's Jaxon Grosdidier gave the Outliers a 2-1 lead. The newly acquired forward capitalized on a rebound off of a shot from the point by defenseman Matteo Mitrovic and the club headed into the locker room leading by a score of 2-1.  

The second period continued to be a very even contest as both teams traded scoring chances but both goaltenders stood tall to make some key saves. Utah eventually found their third goal of the evening at the 13:16 mark when defenseman Carter Ansems scored a goal off of an offensive zone faceoff for his first tally as an Outlier.

The Predators cut the Outliers lead to 3-2  in the third period when Vit Beran beat Phil Rondina blocker side at the 10:32 mark. Despite the Predators closing the lead to one, Utah showed its aggression and intensity to take back momentum with some hard work that drew a series of penalties to put them on the power play.

While playing with the man advantage, the power play demonstrated its prowess to find the back of the net three times in five minutes. Powerplay goals came courtesy of Makar Klochkov, Michael Schwartz, and Daniil Chuparnov. 

Provo found a powerplay goal of their own later in the final frame but it was 'too little too late' for the visitors as Utah sealed the victory with a 6-3 win. 

The final shots for the game were 36-29 in favor of the Outliers and the club improved their head-to-head record to 8-1-1 this season.  

Utah Outliers 5, Idaho Falls Spud Kings 3 (Saturday, February 17th)

The Outliers were back at the Acord Ice Center on Saturday to play host to the Idaho Falls Spud Kings in front of an energized crowd. 

Philip Rondina was back in the net for the Outliers and looking to earn another victory with his solid play. Rondina has quickly established himself as one of the top goalies in the NCDC. 

The game started fast and furious for Utah as they quickly asserted themselves and applied a ton of offensive pressure at the Idaho net. The frenetic start caused the Spud Kings to get penalized for holding. Utah would subsequently capitalize on the man advantage when Daniil Chuparnov blasted a shot on the power play that rang off the post and into the back of the net. Despite both teams tallying a combined 30 shots in the period it would end 1-0 with both goalies making a slew of solid saves.

The Spud Kings would go on to level the score at 1-1 when Landon Steffen scored on the powerplay. At the 13:52 mark, the visitors would grab a 2-1 lead when they converted on another powerplay opportunity.

With just over a minute left in the second period, Utah would find its success while playing with the man advantage courtesy of Makar Klochkov. While moving the puck around the Spud Kings zone it would squirt out to the side of the net where Klochkov drilled a one-timer shot into the open cage. 

The period concluded with the two sides deadlocked at 2-2. A plethora of penalties forced the Outliers to defend a lot during the second period but they hoped to build on their last-minute goal heading into the final frame.

The home team showed their resilience in the third period as they turned up the tempo to grab a 3-2 lead. Utah's Daniil Chuparnov skated over the Spud Kings’ blue line on an offensive rush and made a fantastic shot inside the far post. A few minutes later Daniil Chuparnov scored again to extend the Outliers lead to 4-2 and earn him a much-deserved hattrick. 

Following Chuparnov's third goal, the action increased with a lot of back-and-forth play and both teams creating some high-danger scoring chances. Both goaltenders stood tall in the net for their respective teams and made several timely saves.

Idaho pulled their goalie in the final two minutes in hopes of cutting into the Outliers lead but those hopes were dashed at the 18:24 mark when Carson Strapon scored the club's fifth goal on an empty net. Idaho Falls added one more goal when they redirected a puck past Rondina with just seven seconds remaining in the game. 

The game ended with Utah earning a 5-3 victory in a very spirited contest that had each team registering 43 shots apiece.