The Ice Sheet -- It has been ten seasons that a junior hockey team known as the Ogden Mustangs has taken the ice at the Weber County Sports Complex. Regardless of the sweater, the player donning it, the opponent—the goal remains the same: Win.
A hellacious off-season like none before, every organization attempted to do the impossible when recruiting around the country. When players began to sign, all eyes were on these Mustangs to pick up right where we left off in March. Following an eye-opening and challenging weekend against divisional rival Northern Colorado, this group knew what was necessary when they returned home to a crowd that had longed to watch them play since having a memorable season cut short six months ago.
Saturday night finally arrived, the stage was set and everyone was anxious to see this new-look Mustangs team. After a back-and-forth opening five minutes, the T-Birds struck first with two quick goals and silenced the notorious rowdy crowd. Thirty-six seconds into the 2nd period, Vegas pounced on a loose puck in front and now found themselves holding a commanding 3-0 lead. The arena was dead silent. It was shocking to see and especially on home ice. During a Mustangs power-play, Vegas took another minor penalty and gave Ogden a golden opportunity and three seconds was all it took. Newly signed forward Jake Meure buried his first goal of the night and it was the spark that his team needed. 1:18 after Meure's first, he got another power-play goal to cut the lead to 3-2 with plenty of time left in the game.
"After training as I did in the Summer and seeing how this team puts in all of the hard work every day, it was the type of debut you wanted to see. Taking this momentum into the series against Pueblo and feeling confident in our ability to score is going to be good for us and we are going to earn it every shift of every game." - #3 Jake Meure
The crowd had been awakened and order was restored among the rowdy faithful. Vegas tightened up on defense, but the Mustangs had a renewed vigor from then on. A turnover behind the Mustangs goal gave Vegas all it needed to secure their fourth of the night and regain a two-goal lead. However, a beautiful passing play by Cade Herrera and Lukas Washco fed Meure for a one-time blast for a hat-trick and cutting the lead to one just forty-five seconds after the Vegas tally.
"The connection that Jake and I had in San Jose was already there and then Washco adds to our speed and play-making ability even more. Our line seemed to click immediately and I can't wait to see how we continue to grow". - #13 Cade Herrera
Early in the 3rd, Jack Jones stepped up in the attacking-zone and wristed home his first goal of the season and tying the game at four. Plenty of penalties for both teams drew the crowd's ire, but it was not until 5:06 left in the 3rd where things dramatically shifted. Seth Jones, Jack Jones and Stanford Zito were all given the gate and the Mustangs were accessed a five-minute major penalty. By this time, momentum was teetering between both clubs, but Ogden's penalty-kill unit stood tall and sent the game into overtime.
"The weekend was huge. I don't have another way to describe seeing all of the hard work pay off. Coach Orlando came in during intermission and ripped us good. That proved to be something for us that helped turn things around and get us back on track throughout the night". - #16 Lukas Washco
The 3-on-3 OT was a thriller from the start with both sides trading punches on each rush up the ice. Ogden's PK went back to work after a questionable slashing minor and again answered the bell. Herrera almost scored the OT winner on a breakaway but was unable to beat the netminder. With eleven seconds to go, a familiar face to the Mustangs was the hero. Andrey Shmakov took a Washco pass, swung wide to his backhand and snuck one through the arm for the win and a comeback like none other.
The effort by these Mustangs was resilient, gritty, dramatic, and it was exactly what everyone needed. Titan Anderson made 24 saves en route to his first victory of the season for Ogden. After an unlucky start to the 1st and 2nd periods, he was almost perfect for the final 44:13 of the game. His effort in goal helped keep the momentum in favor of Ogden and give them the chance to mount a comeback.
Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon, Ogden kept their foot on the gas while riding this tidal wave of momentum from the night before. Quickly generating five first period goals and chasing the opposing goaltender just 8:49 into the game, the Mustangs were now looking like a familiar product on the ice that fans are accustomed to spectating.
It was a pretty special weekend for me: first home game, scoring the overtime game-winner and playing in front of so many fans. It was all pretty special for me. We came in ready to go on Sunday and got after it right from the start. I know how tough it is to play here against Ogden, but now being a Mustang, you see how important it is to have that support" - #27 Andrey Shmakov
The dynamic play from different lines at forward and on defense was instrumental for Ogden when coming back home for this series. Players like Daniel Pfalzer and veteran Alex Engan helped keep things rolling when the games became more difficult throughout the weekend. Engan's experience helped his team settle into the rowdy environment. For Pfalzer, playing at the Ice Sheet for the first time was simply breathtaking.
"I had no idea what I was getting into and it was something special that I had never been in front of before. We find ways to get the bench going and get into the game but playing at home means everything when you hear the cheers. It's a hard thing to describe until you experience it." - #12 Daniel Pfalzer
After gaining a 7-0 lead just past midway of the 2nd period on Sunday, a few penalties and unlucky bounces gave Las Vegas enough of a chance to get back into the game. Ogden held on and secured their second victory in as many games during the shortened exhibition series.
"I thought we came out a lot harder and executed our systems a lot better this weekend. The attitude going into the Vegas series was different and we were much more prepared mentally. We were giving Jake a hard time during the week and he produced right away for us. That helped bring us even closer together." - #11 Alex Engan
Anthony Seykora picked up his first win of the season in his Mustangs debut on Sunday. He made 26 saves on the afternoon and showcased his athleticism throughout the contest.
Congratulations to Sean and Kimberly Wilmert, Kenny Orlando, Nick Dreyer and Steve Soto on their first victory as the new owners and coaching staff of the Ogden Mustangs.
The Mustangs will take on the Pueblo Bulls this upcoming weekend for a three-game series at home with a few great nights planned for fans coming to the games.
Friday, October 2nd | 7:30 PM | White Out Night
First 500 fans at the game will receive a rally towel
Saturday, October 3rd | 7:30 PM | Pink in the Rink
Breast Cancer Awareness, live jersey auction and silent jersey auction for special game jerseys worn on Saturday night
The Ice Sheet | Ogden, UT
Tickets are available at tickets.ogdenmustangs.com
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