Returning from the Thanksgiving break and ready to go are the Ogden Mustangs and Utah Outliers as both teams present another home-and-home series this weekend. The second of five matchups against the rival teams this season (Friday in West Valley and Saturday in Ogden) and both groups are bringing impressive win streaks into the 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 come into the weekend with a perfect record of 20-0-0. An unprecedented feat and capping off the 20th victory with a new franchise game record of 21 goals scored in the Sunday contest against the Southern Oregon Spartans. The Mustangs held the Spartans to only 21 shots on goal and allowing just one goal throughout the series. Unlike other series where the score was not entirely indicative of the matchup, the Mustangs were dominant from the opening faceoff on Friday night, winning by the scores of 14-0, 12-1, and 21-0. The Mustangs re-discovered their scoring prowess with 47 times with six goals (4PP, 2SH) coming from the special team groups.
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.
Outliers this Season
The Outliers come into the weekend with a record of 13-4-0. The highly anticipated Northwest Division bout features an Outlier team sporting a 12-game win streak. Most recently taking on the Southern Oregon Spartans, the Outliers swept the series by the scores of 4-1, 10-2 and 5-1. The Outliers have been fortunate to play at home for the majority of November. They will look to use home-ice to their advantage for the front-end of this series. They’re not quite as big up front as last season, but have a lot of size on defense. Expect to see lots of physicality there.
2019 is the fourth season of Utah Outliers hockey. After rebranding and moving locations a couple of times, it is the ninth season of the Park City Moose/Salt Lake City Moose/Utah Outliers franchise. The Outliers are coming off of back-to-back highly-successful seasons. They had 33 wins last season, and a franchise-best 39 wins two seasons ago, which included a trip to their first ever Thorne Cup Finals. The Outliers are still searching for their first division title but have come so extremely close to doing so. In both of the past two seasons, the Mustangs have defeated the Outliers for division titles. In the five total division-final matchups between the teams, four of them have gone to overtime. The Mustangs have won all four. The Outliers are coached by Paul Taylor, who’s in his fifth season with the team.
Now in the ninth season of matchups, Friday and Saturday will be the 74th and 75th all-time meetings between the Mustangs and this Park City Moose/Salt Lake City Moose/Utah Outliers franchise. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 51-17-5. The Mustangs are 2-0-0 this season against the Outliers. The Mustangs rebounded from early deficits in both contests to win 2-1 and 4-3. In a flashback to last year, the Mustangs won 3-2 on a double-overtime, division-championship-winning goal from Kerry Kruzel. Both teams feature long winning streaks, and at least one will end Friday night. The Outliers are riding a 12-game winning streak. The Mustangs are looking to extend their winning streak of 20 games and further the gap in the standings between the two rivals.
Players to Watch
For the Outliers, they will look to create balance throughout their lineup while also proving to be a tough matchup physically. Forward Ben Doherty leads the way for the Outliers with 47 points. He has registered a point in all but two contests this season. Forwards Andrei Shmakov and Ethan Knudsen follow up with 20 goals and 37 assists combined. Defenseman Jakub Lelek pushes the pace from the backend and is currently tied for 3rd in scoring for the Outliers with 28 points. Perhaps the most dangerous scorer next to Doherty is forward Nikita Andrusenko. The Russian forward is registering 2.25 points-per-game since making his debut on Oct. 25th. One of the strengths of this Outliers team is their defense corps. Lelek, Brad McCloskey, and Helvis Rudzajs have appeared in all 17 games for the Outliers this season. Swedish goaltender Oscar Wahlgren is currently backstopping the Outliers to a 1.36 goals-against average, and .938 save percentage this season. He allowed six goals on 63 shots in two losses against the Mustangs this season.
For the Mustangs, California natives, Shane Gilbert and Zach Pires, have blossomed into a potent 1-2 punch down the middle. The duo lead the Mustangs with 45 and 43 points, respectively. Ukrainian speedster Gleb Krivoshapkin leads the Mustangs with 22 goals. Lukas Vacin has been menacing towards the opposition, pouring in 26 points in just 12 games since returning to the Mustangs. Bryson Bartell and Caleb Dolman round out the top-6 forward group and provide an offensive spark on the power-play, penalty-kill, and full-strength. On defense, Oliver Wieringa and Christian Phinney man the top-defensive pairing. They combined three goals and 11 assists in the series against Southern Oregon. Not to be outdone, Johan Zöllner and Ramil Talipov have been dynamite for the Mustangs transition from defense to offense with points totals of 28 and 25. Perhaps no other Mustang player will face their biggest test this weekend outside of goaltender Travis Allen. He has quietly been a consistent and calming presence for the Mustangs, touting a robust .957 save percentage and a 0.667 goals-against-average.
Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes - Done
Mustangs special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 25/94 – 26% (2nd)
Penalty kill – 85/93 – 91% (2nd)
The Mustangs are No. 1 in the WSHL with 14 shorthanded goals this season
Outliers special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 17/71 – 24% (18th)
Penalty kill – 58/66 – 88% (7th)
Northwest Division Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 60 points
Utah Outliers – 39 points
Seattle Totems - 23 points
Bellingham Blazers - 22 points
Southern Oregon Spartans – 9 points
West Sound Admirals – 0 points
Overall WSHL Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 60 points
El Paso Rhinos – 53 points
Hinton Timberwolves – 51 points
Edson Aeros – 45 points
Northern Colorado Eagles – 43 points
Utah Outliers – 39 points
Oklahoma City Blazers – 38 points
Fresno Monsters – 37 points
Las Vegas Thunderbirds – 33 points
This weekend’s Northwest Division matchups
Outliers vs./at Mustangs
Seattle Totems vs. Bellingham Blazers
Keys to the Game:
The Mustangs can roll their lines so fluidly that they can tire out opponents in their own zone and create high-percentage scoring chances.
Watch the Counterattack
The Outliers were able to convert a long feed from their defensive zone to a breaking forward for a goal the last time they visited the Ice Sheet. The Mustangs will look to not force passes and create an opportunity for the Outliers to convert off of a turnover.
#OMHockey | @Ogdenmustangs