After an eventful Thanksgiving weekend, the Ogden Mustangs are ready for another matchup featuring a California team. The visiting Valencia Flyers were not originally featured on the schedule; however, they will make the 11-hour trip up to the Ice Sheet to battle with the leading team in the WSHL. They bring an all-time winning record vs. the Mustangs into Ogden for this early December matchup.
Game Notes are compiled by the Ogden Mustangs broadcasting and media Director, Steffen Bell. Catch the Mustangs live during the games via Black Dog Hockey.
Mustangs this Season
The Mustangs enter this series with a WSHL leading record of 21-1-0-0. They saw their 20-game win streak come to an end at the hands of the Utah Outliers (4-3). Just 24 hours later, the Mustangs also got to play streak killers as they defeated the visiting Outliers (4-2) and thus ending their 13-game win streak. Lukas Vacin continued his recent torrid scoring pace with a five-point weekend and four (3G, 1A) in the Saturday night tilt alone. Even though the result was not in favor of the Mustangs, the relentlessness and resilience were on display as the Mustangs furiously mounted a comeback that fell just short in the final seconds of the game. The very next night, we saw the Mustangs return to form and showcase their talent and skill from top-to-bottom. Playing with speed, physicality, and emotion, the Mustangs dominated play for vast stretches by taking away the neutral zone and maintaining possession in the offensive zone. Travis Allen saw plenty more action in this series. The Outliers are no slouch when it comes to scoring and check-in as the second highest-scoring team in the WSHL. Allen was able to withstand most of the attack from the opposition with 50 saves between the two games.
2019 is the ninth season of Mustangs hockey. Head coach Jake Laime is in his eighth season. The Mustangs won division championships in 2014, 2015, 2018, and last season in 2019. Total points earned and team winning percentage increased each of the first six seasons. For the past seven seasons, the Mustangs have been considered in the top tier of teams in the WSHL, with deep runs in the playoffs each season, but are still looking for their first league title. The Mustangs have established themselves as the top producer of NCAA commitments in the WSHL. They had nine players commit from last season's roster and have had 40+ overall, including Matus Spodniak's NCAA DI commitment to American International College.
Flyers this Season
The Flyers come into the weekend with a record of 2-17-2-0. They have seen some of the best teams in the WSHL so far this season. Playing the El Paso Rhinos, Fresno Monsters, Utah Outliers, and now the Ogden Mustangs. The four clubs currently combine for a record of 67-15-1-1, and three of which are currently leading their respective divisions. The Flyers are looking to bounce back from a current four-game skid but a mighty test they face in this matchup. Their most recent win coming against the Ontario Avalanche (4-3) at home.
2019 is the nineteenth season of Valencia Flyers hockey. The Flyers joined the league in 2001 and have changed names just once during that time as they were briefly known as the Valencia Vipers from 2004-2007. Just a few years removed from a dominant three-season run that saw them collect 125 wins and clinching a berth to the Thorne Cup Finals in 2017 before losing to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads in the Semifinal game. Perhaps not the year they were hoping to have but don't expect this trend to continue as Valencia is looking to reload and return to their winning ways.
An intriguing matchup this weekend as this is a very irregular matchup for both clubs. The Mustangs currently trail the all-time series 3-5-0-1. These two teams last faced off during the Las Vegas Shootout in 2017. The Mustangs took that game with a 6-3 victory sparked by a three-point effort by former Mustangs forward Ian Currie. The Valencia Flyers have never lost when playing the Mustangs in Ogden. A 3-2 shootout defeat in the season opener back in 2012 was the closest the Mustangs have come to take a home victory against the Flyers.
Players to Watch
For the Flyers, they feature a much younger lineup than that of the Mustangs. They are led by forwards Nikita Garin and Evgenii Semeniuk, with both players hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia. Garin, their top returning skater from last season, currently leads the Flyers in scoring with 19 points (7G, 12A) while Semeniuk trails by one point (18 points) but leads the team with 1.5 points-per-game. Goaltender Brooks Dimarino, the top returning netminder for the Flyers, is their #1 goalie and now in his 4th season in the WSHL. He sports a .868 sv% and is 3-13 on the year. Although his stats may not stand out, he has also been the man in net when playing the likes of El Paso, Utah, and Fresno this season. Ogden should expect to face Dimarino in perhaps more than one contest this weekend.
For the Mustangs, they bring their high-octane attack back with ten skaters now posting point totals of 20 or more on the year. The lines combinations might look a bit different this weekend as Gleb Krivoshapkin is currently with Team Ukraine for the IIHF World Championships. With or without the Ukrainian speedster, the Mustangs will continue to push the attack with the potent second line of wingers Bryson Bartell and Lukas Vacin, who are currently on pace for 90 and 100 points, respectively. Their centerman is WSHL Player of the Month, Zach Pires (20G, 24 A). Mustangs defensemen Oliver Wieringa (29 points), Johan Zollner (29 points), and Ramil Talipov (26 points) are the 6th-8th leading scorers for the team. The third and fourth lines of the Mustangs will look to provide energy and keep a quick pace during play as they were able to dominate attack against the Outliers last Saturday night. Goaltenders Travis Allen, Titan Anderson, and Matthew Genter combine for a .916 SV% and collectively sport a 1.6 GAA. They all could see the ice at some point against the visiting Flyers this weekend.
Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes
Mustangs special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 27/102 – 26% (2nd) Penalty kill – 93/105 – 88% (T-3rd)
The Mustangs are No. 1 in the WSHL with 15 shorthanded goals this season
Flyers special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 14/101 – 14% (16th) Penalty kill – 54/76 – 88% (T-19th)
Northwest Division Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 63 points
Utah Outliers – 42 points
Bellingham Blazers - 28 points
Seattle Totems - 23 points
Southern Oregon Spartans – 9 points
West Sound Admirals – 0 points – Defunct
Overall WSHL Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 63 points
El Paso Rhinos – 62 points
Hinton Timberwolves – 54 points
Edson Aeros – 51 points
Oklahoma City Blazers – 47 points
Northern Colorado Eagles – 43 points
Utah Outliers – 42 points
Fresno Monsters – 39 points
Las Vegas Thunderbirds – 33 points
This weekend's Northwest Division matchups
Valencia Flyers @ Ogden Mustangs
Seattle Totems vs./@ Bellingham Blazers
Southern Oregon Spartans @ Fresno Monsters
Las Vegas Thunderbirds @ Utah Outliers
Keys to the Game:
The Mustangs were heavily penalized in their last series vs. the Outliers. They surrendered four powerplay goals on twelve opportunities. While they also added one shorthanded goal, the Mustangs were not thrilled with the mediocre .667% penalty kill in the last series.
High-Quality Scoring Chances
We all know the Mustangs can be lethal and decimate teams on any given night. In last Friday night's matchup, the Outliers did a relatively good job of limiting the Mustangs from creating offense close to the net. They were able to force shots from further out and placing plenty of traffic in front of the shooter. The Mustangs answered the bell the following evening and will look to continue that trend this weekend.
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