It’s a marquee out-of-division matchup that the Western States Hockey League will have its eye on this weekend in Ogden as the Idaho IceCats come to town to face the Mustangs. Ogden has won 17 of its last 18 games. Idaho has won all 15 games it’s played and are one of only three undefeated teams in the league remaining.

Game Notes are compiled by Ogden Mustangs Director of Broadcasting and Social Media, Jon McBride. Catch Jon live during the game, calling all the action on Black Dog Hockey.

Mustangs this Season

  • The Mustangs enter the weekend with a record of 19-4-0. They’re alone in first place in the WSHL Mountain Division and second place overall in the WSHL. They’re coming off of a single game last weekend, where they won a thriller at home, 3-2 over the Utah Outliers. Before that, they picked up a series sweep on the road over the Casper Coyotes two weekends ago. They won 9-5, 13-0 and 8-0 in that series. The Mustangs lead the league in goals scored this season with 184, averaging eight goals per game.

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.

IceCats this Season

  • The IceCats enter this weekend with a record of 15-0-0. They’re in first place in the Northwest Division and seventh overall in the WSHL in points. They’ve played substantially fewer games than most teams in the league with a number of bye weeks. With that undefeated record, they’re obviously tied for first in winning percentage in the WSHL. The IceCats are coming off a bye week over Thanksgiving. Before that they swept the Southern Oregon Spartans at home 7-0, 8-2 and 8-0. The IceCats are the top defensive team in the league, allowing only 18 goals in 15 games. They have five shutouts in their last six games.

IceCats Historically

  • This is the ninth season of IceCats/Steelheads hockey. The team changed its name from the Steelheads to IceCats this past summer. Former ECHL scout, director of player personnel, head coach and GM John Olver is in his eighth season coaching/managing the IceCats/Steelheads. The franchise has been dominant since day one. They have played in the Thorne Cup Championship Game for seven straight seasons, winning five championships. They lost in last season’s championship game right here in Ogden to the same team who eliminated the Mustangs one night earlier, the Wichita Jr. Thunder.

Common Opponents This Season

  • IceCats vs. Spartans – 7-0, 8-2, 8-0 (Total = 23-2)
    Mustangs at Spartans – 7-3, 7-0, 9-1 (Total = 23-4)IceCats vs. IceMen – 5-4, 7-3, 6-2 (Total = 18-9)
    Mustangs vs. IceMen – 5-3, 7-5, 7-2 (Total = 19-10)

All-time Series

  • Friday’s game will be the 35th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and IceCats/Steelheads. The Steelheads won the first 17 games over three seasons between these teams, dominating many of those matchups, and the Steelheads lead the all-time series impressively 23-9-1. But in the past four seasons, the Mustangs have won 10 of the last 17 matchups, which includes a 7-2 Mustangs victory in Ogden two seasons ago. The Mustangs are the only team to ever score seven or more goals against the Steelheads in their nine-year history. They are also one of only two teams to have a winning record against them over the span. The other team is the Thunder (2-0). In the last game between the Mustangs and Steelheads in Ogden, the Mustangs won 3-2 in the opening game of the Thorne Cup Finals last spring. During the regular season, the Mustangs and Steelheads were both 3-3 in six games, all played in McCall last season. The Mustangs are 4-1 in the last five games played between these two teams in Ogden, dating back to Jimmy Peplinski’s hat trick performance in the final game of the 2013-14 regular season.

Players to Watch

  • For the IceCats this season, they’re led by the same guy as last season, Lance Herning. He had 70 regular season points in 48 games last season. He’s reached 35 points already this season in 13 games played. The IceCats second leading scorer is Alex Pilya who was also a returner who started the season strong. He however has left the team for the CDCD and will not be in the lineup this weekend. Another returner, one of two WSHL Japanese players Rei Kikuchi, is third in scoring with 21 points. Newcomer Kevin Fellows is fourth in team scoring with 21 points. Like Herning last season, he began the campaign with a brief stint in the NAHL with the Austin Bruins before heading to Idaho. Hunter Lester is the team captain. He’s just the 12th WSHL player to ever play five seasons in the league. Jack York is back for his fourth season and leads the defense corps. In goal, three goalies have each split time fairly evenly and have put up incredible numbers. Tyler Matthews is the returner in goal and familiar with the Mustangs, having played in 20 games for the Steelheads last season and 23 for the Salt Lake City Moose the season before.
  • For the Mustangs, as the top-scoring team in the WSHL, they have three of the top five scorers in the WSHL. Matus Spodniak continues to score at an incredible pace. He has 82 points in 23 games, averaging 3.5+ points per game. He factored in on each of the Mustangs’ goals in his last game, scoring two goals and picking up a primary assist in the 3-2 victory. He had a ridiculous 15 points the weekend before in Casper. Jacob Laurin has 61 points. Ross Bartlett has 56. Those are the top three. Even with that inflation of points from the top three, contributions continue to come throughout the lineup. In total, nine Mustangs are averaging a point per game or more this season: Spodniak, Laurin, Bartlett, Matt McClellandRhett RampinelliHarry GulliverSage FlemingAustin Dittenhafer and Ian Currie. On defense, Dittenhafer leads the group with 23 points in 16 games. He’s on a seven-game point streak, racking up 13 points in that span. He also has ramped up the physical part of his game as of late. He had some huge hits in last weekend’s game against Utah. In goal, Daniel Pavlicko has put up some remarkable numbers since joining the team from the NAHL. He has a 1.43 goals against average and .941 save percentage. He appears to have secured the No. 1 spot between the pipes for Ogden.

 Special Teams

  • Mustangs:
    Powerplay – 25/107 – 23% (7th)
    Penalty kill – 92/101 – 91% (6th)
  • IceCats:
    Powerplay – 22/72 – 31% (3rd)
    Penalty kill – 88/91 – 96% (2nd)

WSHL Info

  • WSHL Standings
    El Paso Rhinos – 42 points
    Ogden Mustangs – 38 points
    Long Beach Bombers – 37 points
    Oklahoma City Blazers – 36 points
    Colorado Eagles – 33 points
    Valencia Flyers – 32 points
  • Mountain Division Standings
    Ogden Mustangs – 36 points
    Colorado Eagles – 33 points
    Utah Outliers – 30 points
    Superior RoughRiders – 24 points
    Casper Coyotes – 12 points
    Cheyenne Stampede – 4 points
  • This weekend’s Mountain Division matchups
  • Friday
    IceCats at Mustangs
    IceMen at Outliers
    Coyotes at Stampede
  • Saturday
    IceCats at Mustangs
    Eagles at RoughRiders
    IceMen at Outliers
    Coyotes at Stampede
  • Sunday
    IceCats at Mustangs
    IceMen at Outliers
    Coyotes at Stampede

What Jon’s Watching For

  1. Home Ice Advantage – The Mustangs are 4-1 in the last five games played between these two teams in Ogden. This season, the IceCats have not played a team as talented as the Mustangs. The IceCats do not often play in a venue as big or loud as The Ice Sheet. Can the home crowd be a difference maker once again in this series?
  2. THE Top Offense vs. THE Top Defense – The Mustangs are averaging eight goals scored per game. The IceCats are allowing barely more than one goal per game. Something’s got to give. Which will it be?
  3. Matus is Loose – We can’t stop talking about this guy. Every time Matus Spodniak is on the ice, you’re going to want to keep your eye on him … with or without the puck. The Mustangs all-time leading scorer and the WSHL’s leading scorer this season just keeps getting better every week, every game, every practice and every shift. There’s still more to come from Matus.

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