It was a battle between two unbeaten Western States Hockey League teams last weekend in Las Vegas that the whole league was keeping an eye on, and it was the Mustangs coming out on top, not only winning the series, but sweeping it.
The Mustangs defeated the Las Vegas Thunderbirds 5-0, 6-2 and 6-4.
"This weekend was big for us in the winning aspect, but honestly, we did not have our best three games at all," said Mustangs forward Zach Pires, who led the team in scoring over the weekend. "I’d say in all three games we struggled a bit with systematic things but still managed to get the job done which was a positive we took away from this weekend."
On Friday, it was the two Glebs — Gleb Shylaiger and Gleb Krivoshapkin — scoring back-to-back to help put the game away.
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds scored the first two goals of the game before the Mustangs came back to score six unanswered goals for their fourth comeback victory of the season. Johan Zöllner had his best statistical game as a Mustang, factoring in on five of the six Ogden goals, scoring a goal and registering four assists.
On Sunday, the Mustangs scored the first three goals of the game, and then it was the Thunderbirds who came back. They tied the game at 3-3, but off of the ensuing faceoff, seconds after the Las Vegas goal, Pires answered right back to put the Mustangs back in the lead.
The Thunderbirds again battled back to make it 4-4, but this goal by Krivoshapkin from Ethan McKinley would give the Mustangs the lead for good.
Last Weekend's Offensive Leaders:
Zach Pires - 5 goals, 2 assists Shane Gilbert - 3 goals, 2 assists Johan Zöllner - 1 goal, 4 assists Gleb Krivoshapkin - 2 goals, 2 assists Lukas Vacin - 3 goals Bryson Bartell - 3 assists
"Finding the net five times in two days was definitely a confidence booster for me," Pires said. "The go-ahead goal on Sunday was the biggest one. I knew we needed to bounce back immediately after they scored to tie it up. We didn’t have much going on for us after that first period and I told my linemates right after they scored that we were going to turn this around. It was a good play by Vacin to take the body on the half wall, which allowed me to pick the puck up, and I knew the goalie dropped early from watching him the shift before and figured he wouldn’t expect a backhand. It worked out perfectly."
In goal, Matthew Genter played Friday and Saturday, and the first period of Sunday. Titan Anderson played the final two periods of the weekend.
The Mustangs now sit at 14-0 on the season, first overall in the WSHL. They're first in goals for, scoring 114 total. They're fourth in goals against, surrendering 21. That +93 goal differential is the best in the league.
Despite the early-season success, Ogden head coach Jake Laime agrees with Pires that last weekend was far from his team's best effort. This team still has a long way to go to reach the potential Laime sees for it.
"The wins are wins, but I’m very disappointed in overall effort and play," Laime said. "I think last weekend was probably the worst display of teamwork I can remember being part of. This team has the tools, but has a long way to go with maturity — decisions of who we are and why we are here."
Up next for this Mustangs is a three-game series on the road in California, taking on the Ontario Avalanche, in Anaheim. The Mustangs swept the Avalanche in the season-opening weekend in Ogden last month. Since those meetings, the Avalanche have added a few more players, have gone 6-5-1 and find themselves in second place in the Western Division.
The series this weekend has some odd, late start times. Friday night's game will be a 10:30 p.m. Mountain Time start, Saturday night's game a 9:10 p.m. start and Sunday's game a 4:50 p.m. start.
"Overall we are still undefeated, which is great, but we know we have a target on our back," Pires said. "We need to play as one unit and dial it in for the upcoming weekends, especially putting in a full 60-minute effort each time we play."
The Mustangs are next on home ice Nov. 15-17, when the Southern Oregon Spartans will come to Ogden. The home games will feature Military Appreciation Night and Movie Night. Be sure to join and share our event page to help us pack the house.
Goaltender Mason Palmer has been released and is no longer with the team Forward Cannon Rogers has been traded to the Seattle Totems
Aidan McAleer and Diego Contreras were out of the lineup last weekend with injuries Harry Gulliver has begun skating with the team, rehabbing his collar bone injury
The Mustangs' road game against the Utah Outliers that was originally scheduled for Nov. 23 has been rescheduled for Nov. 29, still in West Valley.