The Thorne Cup Finals are just about here. Six teams. Five days. One champion. It should be some phenomenal hockey coming up in El Paso, Texas. Who’s the favorite to come out on top? It’s anyone’s guess. All six teams have a shot, with stats and storylines aplenty to back them up. But at this point, it’s a clean slate. The tired cliché of “who wants it more” has never been more true. This is playoff hockey, folks. This is pure desire, adrenaline, emotion and momentum to will the eventual champion on to victory. You do not want to miss these games.

Game Notes are compiled by Ogden Mustangs Director of Broadcasting and Social Media, Jon McBride. Catch Jon live at the finals, calling the Mustang games. All 12 Thorne Cup Finals games will be available from Black Dog Hockey.

Let’s take a look at comparable statistics and analysis for each of the six Thorne Cup teams.

Matus Spodniak had 146 points in the regular season, but the Mustangs are finding more ways to win than just relying on him.

Matus Spodniak had 146 points in the regular season, but the Mustangs are finding more ways to win than just relying on him.

OGDEN MUSTANGS

Regular season record: 38-12-1
Regular season standings: 2nd in the Mountain Division with 77 points, 5th in WSHL

Powerplay: 25% (6th overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 87% (4th overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 4-1
Playoff results: 2-1 series victory over Colorado, 2-0 series victory over Utah
Playoff goals for: 18 total, 3.6 per game
Playoff goals against: 16 total, 3.2 per game
Playoff goal differential: +2

Playoff performers to watch:

#18 – Matus Spodniak – 4 G, 5 A, 9 PTS, led the team, 2nd in the WSHL with 146 regular season PTS

#11 – Jacob Laurin – 4 G, 5 A, 9 PTS, OT winner

#12 – Ian Currie – 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS, incredible hat trick performance vs. COL

#9 – Tyson Liverance – 1 G, 1 A, 2 pts, big hits, OT winner

#41 – Tymen Edelkoort III – 3.75 GAA, .895 SV%

Coming into the finals like:
The Mustangs come into their second consecutive Thorne Cup Finals with a little unfinished business. Last season, hosting the finals at home, the Mustangs held a third-period lead against the eventual champions, the Wichita Jr. Thunder, in the semifinals. That lead slipped away in heartbreaking fashion. This season, they come into the finals red hot, off of back-to-back overtime victories to win the division title. They’ve battled adversity all season long. This is a team that has shown they can win in a variety of ways. This is a team that appears to be built for the playoffs. Can the Mustangs keep it going? Will having the No. 1 strength of schedule in the WSHL this season pay off? Are they the hottest team coming into the finals? Like Wichita last year, can they ride a whole lot of momentum to a Thorne Cup victory?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 10 a.m. vs. Utah

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 2 p.m. vs. Long Beach

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 2 p.m. vs. Oklahoma City

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. UTA – 6-5-0 (including playoffs)
vs. IDA – 3-2-1
vs. OKC – 0-1-0
vs. ELP – 0-1-0
vs. LB – 0-0-0
Total – 9-9-1 – 19 games

 

Chaseton Sare El Paso Rhinos

Chaseton Sare has 200+ points in two seasons with the Rhinos (and still has a year of eligibility remaining). Expect him to be in top form on his home ice.

EL PASO RHINOS

Regular season record: 49-1-1
Regular season standings: 1st in the Midwest Division with 99 points, 1st in WSHL

Powerplay: 32% (1st overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 94% (1st overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 4-0
Playoff results: 2-0 series victory over Dallas, 2-0 series victory over OKC
Playoff goals for: 23 total, 5.7 per game
Playoff goals against: 3 total, 0.7 per game
Playoff goal differential: +20

Playoff performers to watch:

#9 – Phil Pugliese – 5 G, 5 A, 10 PTS

#11 – Chaseton Sare – 4 G, 4 A, 8 PTS, two incredible WSHL seasons with another year of eligibility remaining

#24 – Jacob Kranabetter – 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, 32 PTS in 12 GMS since joining the Rhinos, 2nd straight Thorne Cup Finals appearance (Valencia last season)

#6 – JC Dubecky – 0 G, 4 A, 4 pts, led all WSHL defensemen in regular season points

#30 – Filip Krasanovsky – 1.00 GAA, .921 SV%, has faced 41 shots in 3 GMS

Coming into the finals like:
The Rhinos are on home ice, riding a 21-game winning streak, have an extremely high-powered offense and stellar defense and goaltending. It’s certainly not a stretch to say they’re the favorites coming into this weekend. The Rhinos are always tough to face on their home ice. With the talent level of the six teams so evenly-matched, every advantage is welcome. The Rhinos also have some history on their side. The last time they hosted the Thorne Cup Finals was in 2014, when they won it all in dominating fashion, outscoring their opponents 29-14. Can home ice advantage be the x factor this season? Can Austin Simpson, who led the team in regular-season scoring, be an impact player this week after not scoring yet in the playoffs? A team that can fill the penalty box, can they keep their cool this week?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 7 p.m. vs. Long Beach

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 7 p.m. vs. Oklahoma City

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 7 p.m. vs. Utah

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. OKC – 7-0-1 (including playoffs)
vs. LB – 1-0-0
vs. OGD – 1-0-0
vs. IDA – 0-1-0
vs. UTA – 0-0-0
Total – 9-1-1 – 11 games

 

Lance Herning has 12 points in the postseason, leading a potent Idaho offense that is +28 in the playoffs.

Lance Herning has 12 points in the postseason, leading a potent Idaho offense that is +28 in the playoffs.

IDAHO ICECATS

Regular season record: 44-4-3
Regular season standings: 1st in the Northwest Division with 91 points, 2nd in the WSHL

Powerplay: 29% (3rd overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 87% (3rd overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 4-0
Playoff results: 2-0 series victory over West Sound, 2-0 series victory over Tahoe
Playoff goals for: 36 total, 9 per game
Playoff goals against: 8 total, 2 per game
Playoff goal differential: +28

Playoff performers to watch:

#17 – Lance Herning – 6 G, 6 A, 12 PTS

#14 – Marcus Jernberg – 5 G, 6 A, 11 PTS, 20 PTS in 10 GMS since coming to McCall (played the past three seasons in the Swedish SuperElit)

#28 – Alex Piliya – 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTS

#4 – Jackson York – 2 G, 6 A, 8 PTS, 4th and final season in Idaho, 4th season in the Thorne Cup Finals

#1 – Victor Ojdal – 1.00 GAA, .935 SV%, 46 shots faced

Coming into the finals like:
Year-in and year-out, you can count on Idaho in the Thorne Cup Finals. The IceCats/Steelheads are the dynasty franchise of the WSHL, appearing in the finals each of the past seven seasons, winning five championships in the process. Last season, despite going just 1-2 through round robin play, Idaho still managed to find themselves in the Thorne Cup Finals championship game, just falling short in the end. This season, the IceCats come into the finals with and impressive, and Thorne-Cup best, +28 goal differential. Does that prove just how skilled and dominant this team can be? Or is that commentary on the level of play they’ve faced, coming out of a weaker division? Can those new Swedes they added at the trade deadline dominate in El Paso against a level of WSHL competition they haven’t faced as of yet? Can the historic experience and composure continue to pay off for the IceCats?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 2 p.m. vs. Oklahoma City

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 10 a.m. vs. Utah

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 10 a.m. vs. Long Beach

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. OGD  – 3-2-1
vs. UTA – 3-0-0
vs. ELP – 1-0-0
vs. OKC – 0-1-0
vs. LB – 0-0-0
Total – 7-3-1 – 11 games

 

Ryan Gil Long Beach Bombers

Ryan Gil leads all WSHL players with 15 playoff points. He’s a point-per-game player since joining the Bombers late in the season, and not-unrelated Long Beach is 10-0-1 in their last 11 games.

LONG BEACH BOMBERS

Regular season record: 36-11-4
Regular season standings: 1st in the Western Division with 76 points, 6th in the WSHL

Powerplay: 26% (5th overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 82% (9th overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 4-0-1
Playoff results: 2-0-1 series victory over Phoenix, 2-0 series victory over Fresno
Playoff goals for: 36 total, 7.2 per game
Playoff goals against: 9 total, 1.8 per game

Playoff goal differential: +27
Playoff performers to watch:

#16 – Ryan Gil – 7 G, 8 A, 15 PTS, leads the WSHL in playoff scoring

#7 – Anton Ahlin – 2 G, 7 A, 9 PTS

#27 – Artem Korolev – 5 G, 4 A, 9 PTS

#24 – Tomas Urbanec – 4 G, 3 A, 5 PTS, led the team in regular-season scoring

#30 – Spencer Kozlowski – 1.50 GAA, .957 SV%

Coming into the finals like:
The Bombers have once again won a division championship, and once again will look to prove themselves on a league-wide stage. Last season, their result at the Thorne Cup Finals in Ogden was a disappointment, to say the least, being outscored 12-3 through their first two games. At this season’s all-league event, the Western States Shootout in in Las Vegas, the Bombers lost all three of their games. Those were their only out-of-division games all season. Long Beach does come into El Paso hot. Since being swept by Fresno in mid-February, the Bombers have gone 10-0-1 in their last 11 games. Can they ride that momentum? Is this the week the Bombers can find some success outside of their division? Will they come into the event with a chip on their shoulder? They’ll need to, to survive the unenviable task of drawing the Rhinos on Day 1. Can Gil continue to dominate as he has through the last two rounds? Is their 1-2 punch in goal the best of any team in the finals with Kozlowski and Domenic Bosetti? Could that play a factor in what can turn into a five-day marathon?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 7 p.m. vs. El Paso

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 2 p.m. vs. Ogden

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 10 a.m. vs. Idaho

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. UTA – 0-1-0
vs. ELP – 0-1-0
vs. OGD – 0-0-0
vs. IDA – 0-0-0
vs. OKC – 0-0-0
Total – 0-2-0 – 2 games

 

Ivan Bondarenko Oklahoma City Blazers

Ivan Bondarenko is one of the most elusive forwards in the WSHL. He’s led the Blazers in scoring this season and will be relied on heavily if OKC has a shot at the Thorne Cup.

OKLAHOMA CITY BLAZERS

Regular season record: 42-7-2
Regular season standings: 2nd in the Midwest Division with 86 points, 3rd in the WSHL

Powerplay: 32% (2nd overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 91% (2nd overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 2-2-1
Playoff results: 2-0-1 series victory over Springfield, 0-2 series loss to El Paso
Playoff goals for: 22 total, 4.4 per game
Playoff goals against: 19 total, 3.8 per game
Playoff goal differential: +3

Playoff performers to watch:

#49 – Ivan Bondarenko – 5 G, 2 A, 7 PTS, led the team in regular-season scoring as well

#26 – Patrick Tondl – 7 G, 0 A, 7 PTS

#10 – Griffin Wiencek – 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS

#9 – Zach Colgrove – 0 G, 5 A, 5 PTS

#30 – Bobby Cloutier – 3.20 GAA, .897 SV%

Coming into the finals like:
The Blazers come into El Paso — their first ever Thorne Cup Finals — as the second team from the Midwest Division along with the host Rhinos. As such, an advantage the Blazers could have over the rest of the field is a heck of a lot of experience playing in this rink … as recently as less than two weeks ago. Although they’re 0-5 in El Paso this season, they went 2-1 there last season and 2-0-1 there the season before. And while their matchup against the Rhinos in round-robin will be as tough as ever, they’re going to feel much more at home on that ice than their opponents in their other matchups. Can the experience pay off? Can the Blazers’ relatively-inexperienced goaltending be a factor this week? Can Bondarenko keep scoring highlight-reel goals?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 2 p.m. vs. Idaho

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 7 p.m. vs. El Paso

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 2 p.m. vs. Ogden

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. ELP – 1-7-0 (including playoffs)
vs. OGD – 1-0-0
vs. IDA – 1-0-0
vs. UTA – 0-1-0
vs. LB – 0-0-0
Total – 3-8-0 – 11 games

 

Dawson Rodin Utah Outliers

Dawson Rodin is a big-time goaltender who has the potential to steal a game or two for his team in El Paso, but can the Outliers find some offense to support him?

UTAH OUTLIERS

Regular season record: 39-11-1
Regular season standings: 1st in the Mountain Division with 79 points, 4th in the WSHL

Powerplay: 23% (10th overall in the WSHL)
Penalty Kill: 83% (7th overall in the WSHL)

Playoff record: 2-1-2
Playoff results: 2-1 series victory over Superior, 2-0 series loss to Ogden
Playoff goals for: 11 total, 2.2 per game
Playoff goals against: 11 total, 2.2 per game
Playoff goal differential: even

Playoff performers to watch:

#4 – Jacob Wanstrom – 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS

#14 – Brandon Krumpschmid – 3 G, 2 A, 5 PTS

#17 – Kane Toriumi – 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS

#3 – Zach Hoffman – 0 PTS, 2nd highest scoring WSHL defenseman in the regular season

#1 – Dawson Rodin – 2.20 GAA, .918 SV%, only goalie to score a goal in the WSHL this season

Coming into the finals like:
The Outliers are not coming into the finals exactly how they’d like to, but hey, it’s a clean slate now. They’re there, and they’re going to try to make the most of the opportunity as the wildcard team. This has been the best season in Outliers/Moose franchise history by far. Despite not picking up the division championship in the playoffs, they did finish the regular season with the best record in the division. They’ve proven they can hang with the top WSHL teams throughout the year. Can they rediscover that magic in El Paso? Can they find some offense? They’ve struggled mightily to find the back of the net in the playoffs. Can Rodin — all 6-5/230 of him — steal a game or two between the pipes?

Their Thorne Cup Finals schedule:

Game 1 – Wed., April 11, 10 a.m. vs. Ogden

Game 2 – Thurs., April 12, 10 a.m. vs. Idaho

Game 3 – Fri., April 13, 7 p.m. vs. El Paso

Head-to-head record vs. other finalists:
vs. OGD – 5-3-3 (including playoffs)
vs. IDA – 0-3-0
vs. LB – 1-0-0
vs. OKC – 1-0-0
vs. ELP – 0-0-0
Total – 7-6-3 – 16 games

 

 

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