Hockey. Is. Back. A new season of Ogden Mustangs hockey is upon us as another quest for the Thorne Cup has begun. The Mustangs will take on the newly-named Casper Bobcats for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday to open the home schedule at The Ice Sheet in Ogden. It’s a new chapter Mustangs history, starting season No. 8.

Game Notes are compiled by Ogden Mustangs broadcasting and media specialist, Jon McBride. Catch Jon live during the game, calling all the action via Black Dog Hockey.

Mustangs this Season

  • The Mustangs enter the weekend with a record of 1-0-0, having defeated the Utah Outliers 2-0 on the road last weekend, opening up the Western States Hockey League schedule. The Mustangs didn’t play their most polished hockey in the game, but they did show a lot of promise for moving forward. Ogden head coach Jake Laime said he especially appreciated the effort he saw from his team. It was the first shutout to start a season in franchise history. The Mustangs have six returning players from last season. They lost their top three scorers from last season. The three of them combined for 400+ points. The Mustangs plan to replace that scoring by committee.

Mustangs Historically

  • This is the eighth season of Mustangs hockey. Head coach Jake Laime is in his seventh season. The Mustangs won division championships in 2014, 2015 and last season in 2018. Total points earned and team winning percentage increased each of the first six seasons. For the past six seasons, the Mustangs have been considered in the top tier of teams in the WSHL, with deep runs in the postseason each season, but are still looking for their first league title. Last season ended in heartbreaking fashion, falling 3-2 in the Thorne Cup Finals championship game.

Bobcats this Season

  • The Bobcats enter this weekend with a record of 0-0-0 in the regular season. They played an aggressive schedule of exhibition games against the Northern Colorado Eagles (formerly the Colorado Jr. Eagles) and University of Wyoming. It was a mad scramble for head coach John Ambrefe to relocate and rebuild a team essentially from scratch. There are no players from last season’s Casper Coyotes team on this Bobcats team, but there are four players from last season’s Springfield Express team now in Casper. There are also three local Casper players.

Bobcats Historically

  • This weekend will be the first official Casper Bobcats games in franchise history … sort of. It was a wild offseason in Casper, Wyo., as rumors of the then-Casper-Coyotes folding began to swirl. Local media outlets ran a couple stories that quoted their then-coach saying the team was folding, and essentially that team did fold. But behind the scenes, there were some conversations happening between Ambrefe, the former coach of the Coyotes for their first three seasons, whose then-current-team in Springfield had also just folded, and a new management group in Casper. That group brought Ambrefe back and the Casper Bobcats were born.
  • This is the fifth season of Casper Coyotes/Bobcats hockey. They came into the league, under Ambrefe, in very impressive fashion, finishing the regular season first in the Mountain Division in their first season. They built an intense rivalry with Ogden in those early seasons, but history has not been kind to them when facing the Mustangs as of late. Each of their first three seasons ended in the playoffs at the hands of the Mustangs. Overall, the Coyotes had an impressive all-time record of 106-45-12 through those first three seasons but just couldn’t get through the Mustangs in the playoffs. Last season, without Ambrefe, the franchise was in a totally different spot, finishing with a record of just 16-35.

All-time Series

  • The Mustangs and Coyotes have played each other a lot over the past four seasons. Friday will be the 41st all-time meeting between the Mustangs and Coyotes/Bobcats. That is a lot of games against the same opponent in just four seasons. The all-time series sits at 27-11-2 in favor of the Mustangs. The Mustangs have won 18 of the last 20 games played between these teams, dating back three seasons.

Players to Watch

  • For the Bobcats, they’ve got a roster with a few unknowns. Florian Seelman comes into the season as an imposing 20-year-old power forward at 6-3/190, but this is his first season in the US. We’ll see how his 59 points in Germany last season translate into this season in a new landscape. Seelman is one of six players from Europe who’ll make their North American junior hockey debut this weekend. Bruno Ndossi is the top returner from Springfield. The Swedish forward had 20 goals and 34 assists last season, putting him sixth in team scoring. He played in the prestigious Swedish SuperElit two seasons ago. Although the Bobcats don’t have a ton of depth up front or on defense, they do have four goaltenders on the roster: Kayne Pasquet out of Moose Jaw, Sask., Brandon Kourt who was in Springfield last season and put up incredible numbers while only playing five games, Louis Busch from Germany who was solid in the GMHL last season and Ludwig Nordqvist who put up good numbers the past two seasons in the Swedish J20 Elit.
  • For the Mustangs, all six returners are expected to step up and play a big role this season. They started strong last weekend. Rhett Rampinelli and Ammon Anderson had a goal and an assist each against the Outliers. Kerry Kruzel was the third member of that top line who also had an assist. Ian Currie and Harry Gulliver skated on the second line and had numerous chances and spirited play last weekend. Those five returning forwards, were no doubt the Mustangs’ top five forwards on the ice last weekend. Keep an eye on brand-new addition this week in Lukas Vacín. Vacín started the season in the NCDC. The Mustangs’ lone returning defenseman, Ryan Mascali, logged a lot of minutes on defense last weekend and had a key assist in the game. Expect him to anchor the blue line this season. Other defensemen to watch include Oliver Wieringa and Nikita Boyko. Wieringa stands at 6 feet 5 inches and 230 pounds, with a lot of upside at only 18 years old. Boyko plays a relentless, tenacious brand of hockey. He’ll make an impact out of sheer effort. He’s only 17. In goal, Artur Ogandzhanyan played a perfect game in his debut last weekend, picking up the 30-save shutout. We’ve yet to see Ethan Racz and Alex Neverve, but may get to this weekend.

Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes

  • Mustangs special teams statistics:
    Powerplay – 0/4 – 0%
    Penalty kill – 3/3 – 100%
  • Bobcats special teams statistics:
    Powerplay – 0/0
    Penalty kill – 0/0
  • Records watch:
    Rampinelli is 17 points away from passing Dusty Watt and entering the top-10 for most points in franchise history.
    Gulliver is four games away from passing Thomas Hargrave and entering the top-10 for most games played in franchise history.
  • Players in/out of the lineup:
    Vacín will make his Mustangs debut this weekend.
    Anders Johnson remains out of the lineup, rehabbing an injury.

WSHL Info

  • Mountain Division Standings
    Ogden Mustangs – 2 points
    Utah Outliers – 0 points
    Casper Bobcats – 0 points
    Steamboat Wranglers – 0 points
    Cheyenne Stampede – 0 points
  • This weekend’s Mountain Division matchups
  • Friday
    Bobcats at Mustangs
    Outliers at Steamboat Wranglers
  • Saturday
    Bobcats at Mustangs
    Outliers at Steamboat Wranglers
    Stampede at Northern Colorado Eagles
  • Sunday
    Bobcats at Mustangs
    Outliers at Steamboat Wranglers
    Stampede at Northern Colorado Eagles

What Jon’s Watching For

  1. Atmosphere – The Ice Sheet is expected to be rocking. It will be the first time for a lot of players on both sides of the ice playing in front of a crowd this big and this loud. Can the Mustangs leverage the home-ice advantage? Can the crowd be an important seventh man?
  2. Tone Setting – The beginning of this game is going to be important. A big goal or hit from either team could make a huge difference early. Can the Mustangs ride the momentum? Can the Bobcats stop it?
  3. Standouts – We saw a number of guys step up last weekend for the Mustangs, but we still have a very small sample size. Who will start or continue to impress this weekend? For the Bobcats, who will step up to be their go-to guys? Who will elevate their game and stand out from the rest?

7

Comments

0