No matter the matchup, hockey offers perhaps the most parity in sports. On any given night, anything can happen; it is something that makes hockey so pure. Unfortunately, the Mustangs were on the losing end Thursday night when they played the opening game of a standard three-game series versus the Seattle Totems.
On Thursday evening, the Mustangs would skate out onto Olympicview Arena and quickly jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first period. Shane Gilbert and the penalty kill unit further cemented how dangerous the Mustangs are even when down a man with this highlight-reel goal.
The Mustangs did not allow a shot on goal in the entire first period. Almost exactly half-way through the contest, Lukas Vacin was able to thread a pass for a beautiful one-time shot from Bryson Bartell. The shot coming from nearly below the goal line, everything appeared to be all-Ogden with a 3-0 lead.
Then Seattle came roaring back. The Totems scored their first goal minutes later and then another less than two minutes into the 3rd period. As the end of the 3rd period drew near, the Mustangs seemed poised to close out the victory. Unfortunately, Seattle found the bounce they were searching for and tied the game with just 11.2 seconds remaining. They would head to overtime and capitalize on a breakaway opportunity that would get past Titan Anderson and shock the league-leading Mustangs.
As we said, the puck does not always bounce your way in this sport. Thursday night certainly left a bitter taste for all after allowing the Totems to bounce back from a 3-0 deficit and suffering the third consecutive defeat. Hockey also displays the continuous evolution of a person, player, team, and culture. The Mustangs were tested well beyond what they expected. Losses like Thursday night can either define a group. However, the Totems may have just have awakened a sleeping giant.
We caught up with Mustangs veteran defenseman Oliver Wieringa for his thoughts on this past weekend's games vs. Seattle.
"This past weekend in Seattle was very beneficial to our team. We battled through some adversity the first game, but we got right back up and continued to grow as a whole."
Fast-forward 24 hours, Ogden was back on the ice in another tight contest. The pressure was mounting as the Mustangs continuously poured shots on net and ended the first frame with a 22-7 advantage. In the second, Bartell struck again. After David Sudbrink and Caleb Dolman teamed up to win an offensive zone draw, Bartell was able to dangle around a Totems defenseman, escape from another, and beat the outstretched goaltender on a quick backhand shot.
After allowing back-to-back powerplays goals to the Totems in a span of 3:12, David Sudbrink hammered a rebound shot from the top of the left circle to draw even with Seattle.
Things would get a bit more chippy as the game went on, but the ice began to tilt more in favor of the Mustangs as they would not allow another goal for the rest of the weekend. Goaltender Matthew Genter would post 42 saves in two wins and a shutout on Saturday night. Genter now sports a .920 save %, 1.45 GAA, 11 wins and three shutouts on the year.
When talking with Wieringa, we asked what the response was from the team.
"As a team, we didn't want to dwell in the past. We chose to keep our response and mindset positive going into the next two games. We analyzed and learned from our mistakes. We took from it [the defeat] and got the next two wins."
Saturday was all Mustangs as they limited the Totems to just six shots in each period en route to a 5-0 shutout victory in an utterly dominant performance by this group.
With about two months remaining on the regular-season schedule, everyone wants to know what to look forward to seeing from the Mustangs and Wieringa did not hesitate.
"With the second half of the season starting up, we added some key players (David Sudbrink, Emil Svartbro, and Christoffer Juvas) and will continue to track upwards to finish the season in Mustangs style... Win."
The Mustangs return to the Ice Sheet this weekend to take on the Northern Colorado Eagles in what should be a packed house for the lone home stand during the month of January.
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