Ogden, UT. -- There is nothing quite like the sport of hockey. Even more so, there is nothing quite like the rivalries in hockey. Some are far more revered; some are far more feared. The Ogden Mustangs began a stretch of the schedule in which they face either Provo Riverblades or the Utah Outliers until January, 2021. Not one of those games has been short of drama, tempers, and some great hockey.
October 29th, Ogden took to the road to face a Provo team that has been on the cusp of winning a handful of games they have played this season. The game began similarly to the previous encounter in early October: Provo struck first, then Ogden responded. Heading into the first intermission tied at one, the Mustangs knew they had more to give.
1:26 into the 2nd, Jake Meure slammed home a loose puck after a brilliant rush by his linemate, Cade Herrera, and the ice tilted in favor of Ogden for a majority of the period. Just over twelve minutes later, Gio Ursillo's persistence on the forecheck resulted in the third Ogden goal. Exactly two minutes after the Ursillo marker, an odd dump-in from outside the offensive zone snuck past Anthony Seykora. A rare miscue from the netminder, who was brilliant last weekend in Pueblo, but he and his team remained poised to finish this game with a victory.
A predominately hard-fought game became these two new division rivals to start, became a heated exchange between the teams every shift in the 3rd period. Parker Laughton was on the receiving end of a high hit that frustrated the Mustangs enough to answer the bell. Stanford Zito was ejected from the game, and Provo would find themselves on a man-advantage after several no-calls that ignited Zito to defend his teammate.
The Riverblades found the back of the net twice in the final five minutes of the game and the eventual game-winner with 28 seconds remaining. Christian Phinney had an excellent chance with 8.7 seconds left on the clock but could not get enough on the shot to tie the game. The extended powerplay proved costly for the Mustangs as the two-goal lead was not enough, and they would skate away with a 4-3 loss to Provo.
October 30th, a rivalry was renewed when the Outliers made their first visit to the Ice Sheet. The last time these two teams faced one another, it was a spectacular two-game series in which the Mustangs won both games in front of a sold-out crowd. This game was also the first of three consecutive matchups against one another.
In the 1st period, the Outliers struck first with two goals in the span of 1:36. The first goal scored on a second-chance opportunity that just snuck under the crossbar and over the shoulder of Mustang's goaltender Domagoj Troha. Moments later, the Outliers got a backhand shot past Troha during a 2-on-1 chance to increase the lead to 2-0. The Ogden powerplay needed just ten seconds before Herrera sent the one-time feed home to cut the lead to one with plenty of game left.
In the 2nd, both teams traded powerplay opportunities; however, the score would remain the same. Later in that same period, a turnover in the Mustangs offensive-zone gave Meure a perfect chance to tie the game, and he did not disappoint. His goal with 5:45 remaining in the second set the stage for another dramatic finish in Ogden.
The Outliers converted on a miscue by the Mustangs, and a shaky shot snuck just past Troha's pad for the 3-2 lead midway through the final frame. Seth Jones, typically a key cog on defense for Ogden, was moved to forward for both Outlier games, and his effort just after the go-ahead goal gave his team another spark and a powerplay when he became involved in a post-whistle scrum. Unfortunately, the man-advantage was cut short when Herrera was called for a hooking penalty 27 seconds after the altercation involving S. Jones.
One last chance remained for Ogden with the extra skater on with under a minute remaining. Still, the puck skipped just wide of the net several times before the buzzer sounded, and the Outliers were victorious in the first matchup of the season against the Mustangs.
Two games. Two disappointing finishes. More defining moments were on the horizon.
November 1st, the Mustangs wanted to drop their two-game skid. There was a different feeling in the building that Sunday afternoon. An early powerplay opportunity seemed to sway the momentum in favor of the Mustangs from the start. Both teams had their fair share of chances until the Outliers scored midway through the 2nd period.
A dangerous hit from behind that sent Mustangs defenseman Cameron Hawks crashing into the end boards garnered Hawks' response, and an eventual 4-on-4 situation came of it. During the 4-on-4, a puck battle in the offensive zone proved costly for Ogden as it led to a breakaway and the first goal of the game for the Outliers.
Later in the 3rd, Phinney had been given a minor penalty for cross-checking. During the penalty kill, things were going the way of Ogden until the puck took a strange bounce that landed on the stick of an open man, and it became 2-0 with 8:24 remaining in the 3rd. It was a punch to the gut for the Mustangs as the two-goal deficit seemed like a daunting task given the way the game was going.
Then chaos ensued.
Herrera raced down the ice to retrieve an errant pass by the Outliers, stickhandled around the goaltender, and scored to cut the lead in half. It was an odd sequence, but the Mustangs made it count. Boldway drew a powerplay 55 seconds later, and then Head Coach Kenny Orlando went to the drawing board. Herrera won the ensuing faceoff and Orlando's play was all set up for the Mustangs. Meure waited for Washco to collapse towards the net and connected on a beautiful cross-ice backdoor pass that Washco went top-shelf to tie the game with 4:38 remaining in the 3rd.
Ogden took a late hooking minor, but the penalty kill unit did their job and regulation proved not to be enough for these two teams. The back-and-forth chances in overtime for both teams kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Finally, the two-way ability of Jack Jones tilted the ice in favor of Ogden one more time and Meure froze the goaltender on the five-hole shot to win it. It was another incredible comeback by this team this season and another signature moment in this storied rivalry.
After recovering from a crazy weekend of games, Ogden paid their first visit to West Valley. This time around, in a much different building. Stepping onto the ice at the Maverik Center, the Mustangs wanted to let it be known that they are the team to beat in Utah.
After quickly establishing themselves in the offensive zone with shots heavily in favor of Ogden 9-1, their opponent struck first on the board. Before the end of the opening frame, Utah's frustration showed when two players were sent to the penalty box for an extended two-man advantage going to the Mustangs; however, they still could not solve the goaltender.
In the 2nd, it was another back-and-forth period for both teams. Chances were plentiful, but nothing to show for it. Any momentum generated by Ogden was quickly met with a rush back down the other way towards Troha. Just seconds after a successful penalty kill during a 4-on-3 situation, Utah grabbed a two-goal lead. The Outliers would eventually end the period with a three-goal cushion after another late-period goal.
It was challenging to put the finger on what the issue was that night. It would be safe to say that anyone watching the game would tell you that it was much closer than the score suggested. The Mustangs were making progress, albeit rather slowly, but they were getting ready for some of the best hockey we have seen this season.
After drawing an early powerplay opportunity, Tucker Thorstad needed just eleven seconds to get on the board with a crisp shot through the goaltender's five-hole. The ice tilted in favor of Ogden once again and they made it count. The smooth-skating of Deven Boldway helped jumpstart a breakout that eventually led to his goal after Meure saw him jump up into the play and go right for the net. Boldway wasted no time, putting the rebound in the open net and cutting the deficit to one with 13:38 remaining in the 3rd.
Nearly one minute after the Boldway marker, Andrey Shmakov made a brilliant play in the offensive zone to intercept a clearing attempt by the Outliers. He then had Ursillo coming right down the middle of the ice for a good look at a potential game-tying goal. Unbeknownst to Ursillo, the puck had fluttered off the blade of his stick and into the wheelhouse of Thorstad. His rocket slapshot above the goaltender's shoulder tied the game and it was bedlam among the benches and crowd.
Tied at 3, the Outliers were reeling as they called a timeout. The Mustangs seized the moment and this game was going to be another photo finish.
Utah scored with 11:10 remaining in the period after a clearing attempt by Troha went off the skate of Michael Heller and created a chaotic sequence for Ogden before eventually surrendering their fourth goal of the game. With time winding down, chances became fewer and the light on this remarkable comeback appeared to dwindle.
Then, it was the big guns again sho stepped up when their team needed them the most. Meure's beautiful cross-ice feed to Herrera started the play. Herrera received the pass in stride, stickhandled around the defenseman in front while fighting off the backcheck from another before freezing the goaltender and giving the hard-skating Washco a wide-open net to tie the game 4-4 with 2:05 remaining in regulation. The entire play is the culmination of hard work, long hours of film review, attention to detail and the will to fight through growing pains for this young and resilient team.
Ogden was given a powerplay opportunity at the end of the game-tying goal but could not score and on to overtime, we were. Both teams traded good looks but none quite as promising as Heller's backhander with 16 seconds left in overtime that just went wide of the far side post.
Now onto the first shootout for Ogden this season. Washco's patient approach proved wise as he went top-shelf on the sprawling goaltender. Troha then followed suit in the net and paddled the puck away calmly for a save. Meure came down the ice, committed to his move and backhanded the puck just under the goaltender's blocker for the 2-0 shootout advantage. The next Outlier shooter missed the net entirely and the Mustangs completed another wild comeback.
It was thrilling; it was madness; it was unreal; it was something we have seen over and over this season from this team. The "never-say-die" attitude and approach to every game for Ogden has caught the eye of many. We are in the midst of a very trying year filled with an abundance of challenges and adversity, both on the ice and off of it. If there is one thing that we all can learn from this impressive group, it is this: Do not ever give up.
Friday, Nov 20th | Vs. Anaheim Avalanche| 7:30 PM | Military Appreciation Night
The U.S. Army Recruiting stations of Ogden and Clearfield will take part in a special ceremony during the 1st intermission
Live and Silent Jersey Auctions for special game worn camo jerseys in honor of the U.S. Military
Sunday, Nov 22nd | Vs. Anaheim Avalanche| 10:45 AM
Defenseman Aaron Cope has been traded to the San Diego Sabres.
Tickets are available at tickets.ogdenmustangs.com
Stay up to date on all Mustangs news, sales, events, and more, by following our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.
During away games, be sure to check-in with our Twitter page for live updates.
#OMHockey | @Ogdenmustangs