It’s the Ogden Mustangs and Utah Outliers in the 2018 Western States Hockey League Mountain Division Finals. Just eight teams remain in the WSHL playoffs. Six of them make it to El Paso for the Thorne Cup Finals. There’s a very good chance that both of these teams will move on. This weekend is about pride and a division banner.

Game Notes are compiled by Ogden Mustangs Director of Broadcasting and Social Media, Jon McBride. Catch Jon live during the game IN THE ICE SHEET, calling the game for the watch party audience. The Outlier crew will be calling the action on Black Dog Hockey.

Mustangs this Season

  • The Mustangs enter the series after finishing the regular season with a record of 38-12-1 for 77 points and second place in the Mountain Division, fifth place overall in the WSHL. Last weekend, the Mustangs defeated the Colorado Eagles 2-1 in a thrilling series victory. The Eagles took a 3-1 victory in Game 1, but with their backs against the wall and their season on the line, the Mustangs game back to win Game 2 5-4 and Game 3, 6-5, coming back from deficits to win in both of those games. The Mustangs have won six of their last seven games and 11 of their last 14.

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.

Outliers this Season

  • The Outliers enter the series after finishing the regular season with a record of 33-11-1 for 79 points and first place in the Mountain Division, fourth place overall in the WSHL. It was the first time in franchise history that the Outliers finished a regular season in first place. Last weekend, like the Mustangs, the Outliers lost their first game in their playoff-opening series. The Superior RoughRiders gave the Outliers all they could handle. Game 1 was 2-1 RoughRiders. Game 2 was 4-2 Outliers. Game 3 needed overtime, as the RoughRiders were that close to an upset, but instead the Outliers got the sudden-death OT winner to move on to the next round.

Outliers Historically

  • This is the second season of Utah Outliers hockey, but after rebranding, it’s the seventh of the Park City Moose/Salt Lake City Moose/Utah Outliers franchise. Before this season, the team had its best season in 2014-15 when the Moose finished with 54 points. Last season they were close to that with 50 points. Last season the franchise won its first ever playoff series, a sweep of the Superior RoughRiders. In the second round they just fell short against the eventual division champion Colorado Jr. Eagles. The Outliers are coached by Paul Taylor, who’s in his third season with the team.

All-time Series

  • Now in the seventh season of matchups, Friday will be the 57th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and this Park City Moose/Salt Lake City Moose/Utah Outliers franchise. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 36-16-4. The teams have met nine times already through the regular season, six times in Ogden, and three times in Salt Lake. The Outliers won five of the meetings. The Mustangs won 4. The Outliers won all three games in Salt Lake. The Mustangs won the most recent game played between the two teams, a 3-2 overtime victory in Ogden on Jan. 28.

Players to Watch

  • For the Outliers, they’ve been led this season by five players who finished the regular season all within five points of each other. Brandon Krumpschmid and Jacob Wanstrom had 66 points each. Defenseman Zach Hoffman had 65 points. Kane Toriumi  had … Dylan Massie had … Last weekend against the RoughRiders, these guys led the charge. Krumpschmid led the team with three goals, all coming in a hat-trick performance in Game 2. Wanstrom, the captain, had the big overtime series-winner in Game 3. There are a few new faces in the lineup for Utah, since they last played in Ogden. Notably are a pair of forwards in Mattias Wikstrom and Erik Safstrom who came over from the West Sound Warriors at the trade deadline. Also, Jan Pixa, who has 14 points in 12 games since joining the Outliers. However, all three high-impact newcomers were held off the scoresheet in last weekend’s series. In goal, Dawson Rodin has put up incredible numbers all season long. His 1.96 goals against average was top five in the league. His .932 save percentage was second best. He also scored a goal this season.
  • For the Mustangs, they have one of the top offenses in the WSHL, averaging 7.9 goals per game through the regular season, and they have a lot of guys who contribute. Matus Spodniak finished the regular season with 146 points in 44 games. That was the second most in the league this season, nearly setting a single-season, all-time WSHL record. He was held off the scoresheet in Game 1 last weekend, but bounced back to get three assists in Game 2 and two goals and two assists, including the game-winning goal, in Game 3. Ian Currie had a big series last weekend with a hat trick in Game 2, including the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period. Jacob Laurin, who’s been right beside Spodniak all season long, putting up 120 points in the regular season, had a goal and four assists last weekend. Three different defensemen had goals in the Game 3 win: Austin DittenhaferMatts Thielemann and Tim Jonsson. A fourth defenseman, Tyson Liverance, played a major role on the game winner. In goal, Tymen Edelkoort III made some monumental saves last weekend, playing all three games and stopping nearly 100 shots. He’ll be relied on heavily again this weekend.

 Special Teams

  • Mustangs:
    Powerplay – 25% (6th)
    Penalty kill – 87% (4th)
  • Outliers:
    Powerplay – 22% (10th)
    Penalty kill – 83% (7th)

WSHL Info

  • Final WSHL Standings (Top 10)
    El Paso Rhinos – 99 points
    Idaho IceCats – 91 points
    Oklahoma City Blazers – 86 points
    Utah Outliers – 79 points
    Ogden Mustangs – 77 points
    Long Beach Bombers – 76 points
    Colorado Eagles – 71 points
    Ontario Avalanche – 69 points
    Fresno Monsters – 67 points
    Springfield Express – 64 points
  • Final Mountain Division Standings
    Utah Outliers – 79 points
    Ogden Mustangs – 77 points
    Colorado Eagles – 71 points
    Superior RoughRiders – 51 points
    Casper Coyotes – 32 points
    Cheyenne Stampede – 4 points
  • This weekend’s Division Final WSHL playoff matchups
  • Mountain Division
    No. 2 Mustangs at No. 1 Outliers
  • Midwest Division
    No. 2 Blazers at No. 1 Rhinos
  • Northwest Division
    No. 2 Icemen at No. 1 Steelheads
  • Western Division
    No. 3 Monsters at No. 1 Bombers

What Jon’s Watching For

  1. Ogden Offense vs. Utah Defense – The Mustangs have one of the top offenses in the league, the Outliers one of the top defenses. Which one is going to give? With almost the entire team down with strep this week, will the Mustangs have the offensive jump they usually have?
  2. Odd-Man Rushes – So many of the Outliers’ goals this season against the Mustangs have come on two-on-ones, three-on-ones and breakaways. They don’t get a ton of chances, but they’re opportunistic when they do. Can the Mustangs limit those chances in this series?
  3. Special Teams – You’ve got to be able to kill penalties and score on the powerplay if you’re going to be successful in the playoffs. The Mustangs got a couple huge powerplay goals last weekend, but gave up more powerplay opportunities to their opponents than they would’ve liked to. The Outliers were just 1-for-19 last weekend on the powerplay. Can the Mustangs have an advantage here? The other question: Which team can do a better job of staying out of the box in this series that features two teams who hate each other.

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