It’s the final series of the regular season, with all sorts of playoff implications on the line. Buckle up for what should be yet another exciting series between these two division rivals who are deadlocked at 71 points each in the division standings. Who’ll grab that No. 2 spot outright for a first-round playoff bye and home-ice advantage in the second round? While there are a host of numbers and scenarios you can look at, it really comes down to which team gets to two wins first this weekend.

Game Notes are compiled by Ogden Mustangs Director of Broadcasting and Social Media, Jon McBride. Catch Joe Blakemore live during this weekend’s games, calling all the action on Black Dog Hockey.

Mustangs this Season

  • The Mustangs enter the weekend with a record of 35-12-1 for 71 points. They’re tied with the Eagles for second place in the Western States Hockey League Mountain Division and fifth place overall in the WSHL. The Mustangs are coming off a battle of a series on the road in Idaho two weekends ago. After dropping the first two games narrowly, the came back to beat the Idaho IceCats in a 7-6 shootout thriller in the series finale.

Mustangs Historically

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

Eagles this Season

  • The Eagles enter this weekend with a record of 32-9-7 for 71 points. They’re tied with the Mustangs for second place in the Mountain Division and fifth place overall in the WSHL. The Eagles are coming back to the state of Utah again this weekend after a battle of a series against the Utah Outliers last weekend. It was a very tight series with the Outliers winning Game 1, 3-0; the Eagles winning Game 2, 3-1; and the Outliers winning Game 3, 3-2 in overtime.

Eagles Historically

  • This is the Eagles’ fifth season in the WSHL. Head coach Steve Haddon, who played eight seasons for the Colorado Eagles CHL/ECHL team, has been with the Jr. Eagles since day one. Since their first season, the Jr. Eagles have been a contender, not just making the playoffs in their first season, but pulling off a first-round upset and advancing to the division finals. In their second season, their season fell short in a second-round series in Ogden against the Mustangs. In their third season, they managed the series victory in Ogden for the division championship and advanced all the way to the Thorne Cup Finals, falling to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads in the league championship series. Last season, once again the Eagles and Mustangs met in Ogden for the division finals. Once again the Eagles won the series, which was once again, extremely tight. With Ogden hosting the Thorne Cup Finals last season, both the Mustangs and Eagles advanced to the finals, with the Mustangs defeating the Eagles there. These teams appear to be on a collision course to meet in the playoffs once again this season, for the fourth straight time.

All-time Series

  • Friday will be the 33rd all-time meeting between the Mustangs and Eagles. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 20-9-3. The teams met three times earlier this season … way earlier. While they’ll end their regular season schedules against each other, they also started the regular season against each other. The Mustangs won those first two opening-weekend games in Colorado 3-2 in a shootout and 8-2. The Eagles won Game 3, 7-6.

Players to Watch

  • For the Eagles, they’ve got one of the most spread-out scoring distribution you’ll ever see on any team. Carter Dahl and Corey Richardson lead the team with 49 points each. David Mitchell is third with 46 points. Then you’ve got eight players with between 30 and 40 points. Vincent Mastrandrea is at 39. He’s off his pace from last season when he led the Eagles with 77 points. Despite the lower, more spread out scoring numbers individually this season, the Eagles are actually better as a whole this season than last season. They’re currently at 232 total goals scored through 48 games this season. Last season they had a total of 213 goals scored in 52 regular season games. The Eagles did bring in some reinforcements at the trade deadline, picking up Tom Ignatovich from Seattle and Dawson Keay, who was the captain of the Valencia Flyers. Both players have eight points in nine games since joining the Eagles. With some injury troubles on defense, the Eagles were forced to move both Dahl and Mastrandrea back to defense last weekend. That puts four of the Eagles top six scorers this season on defense. In goal, Braden Lajoie will be the man. He’s a veteran goaltender with a lot of experience, especially against the Mustangs in Ogden. He has the ability to steal a game or two.
  • For the Mustangs, Matus Spodniak simply can not be stopped. Friday’s game will be his first back at The Ice Sheet since setting the WSHL all-time goals record. He now has a shot another WSHL record. Spodniak needs just six points to hit 150 for the season and break the WSHL single-season scoring record, set way back in 2006-07. He’s coming off of 10 points in three games last weekend in Idaho. He is riding an unbelievable 26-game point streak. Jacob Laurin is now at 119 points this season, fourth overall in the WSHL. He’s been right with Spodniak all season long, and can be easy to overlook sometimes, in his linemate’s shadow, but he has been absolutely incredible this seasonRoss Bartlett is the third Mustangs to hit the 100-point plateau this season. He’s at 40 goals and 60 assists and is the highest-scoring second-line player in the WSHL. On defense, Austin Dittenhafer leads the group with 51 points in 40 games. That 51st point put him ahead of former teammate Nick Frankich for the most single-season points by a Mustang defenseman in franchise history. In goal, the Mustangs’ recent addition Tymen Edelkoort III has solidified the No. 1 spot and has put up some impressive performances, including stopping all three Idaho attempts in the shootout win in Boise.

 Special Teams

  • Mustangs:
    Powerplay – 26% (5th)
    Penalty kill – 87% (4th)
  • RoughRiders:
    Powerplay – 19% (15th)
    Penalty kill – 83% (6th)

WSHL Info

  • WSHL Standings
    El Paso Rhinos – 93 points
    Idaho IceCats – 86 points
    Oklahoma City Blazers – 80 points
    Utah Outliers – 75 points
    Ogden Mustangs – 71 points
    Colorado Eagles – 71 points
    Long Beach Bombers – 64 points
  • Mountain Division Standings
    Utah Outliers – 75 points
    Ogden Mustangs – 71 points
    Colorado Eagles – 71 points
    Superior RoughRiders – 48 points
    Casper Coyotes – 32 points
    Cheyenne Stampede – 4 points
  • This weekend’s Mountain Division matchups
  • Friday
    Outliers at RoughRiders
    Eagles at Mustangs
    Coyotes at Blazers
    Saturday
  • IceCats at Outliers
    Outliers at RoughRiders
    Eagles at Mustangs
    Coyotes at Blazers
    Sunday
  • IceCats at Outliers
    Outliers at RoughRiders
    Eagles at Mustangs
    Coyotes at Blazers

What Jon’s Watching For

  1. Goal Totals – If the Mustangs can make this a goal-fest, it should be to their advantage. The contrast of the Eagles’ balanced scoring attack vs. the Mustangs’ trio of 100-point producers could be especially interesting to watch.
  2. The Rivalry – These two teams have played a lot of tight, emotionally-charged games over the years. This series should be no different. Watch for some physical play and the possibility of emotions boiling over.
  3. Consistency – This is it. This is the final tune up before playoffs. It’s going to take consistent, 60-minute efforts to be successful. In last season’s Thorne Cup run, the Mustangs really tightened things up and were putting together top-tier efforts every night at this point. Can they get into that rhythm again at this crucial time?

Comments

0