After two weeks without games, the Ogden Mustangs are ready to get right back into action this weekend as the Cheyenne Stampede come into town for three games at The Ice Sheet. These will be the final games of the 2018 calendar year in Ogden, as both teams are gearing up for the fast-approaching all-league Western States Shootout, signifying the midpoint of the season.

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

Mustangs this Season

  • The Mustangs enter the weekend with a Western States Hockey League-best record of 19-1-1. They last played Nov. 16-18 in Oklahoma City against the Blazers, going 1-1-1 in an extremely tight series. Many have slated the Mustangs and Blazers as the top two WSHL teams this season and pointed to that matchup as a potential Thorne Cup Finals preview. The scores could not have been much closer as the Mustangs fell in the first game 3-2, won the second game 5-4 and lost the third game 4-3 in overtime. The Mustangs are the third highest-scoring team in the WSHL, scoring 124 total goals, averaging 5.9 per game. They’ve allowed only 37 total goals, 1.8 per game. That +87 goal differential is the best in the WSHL.

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.

Stampede this Season

  • The Stampede enter this weekend with a record of 2-17-0-1. They hung tight in some tough games to start the season, falling just 6-4 and 4-2 on the road against the Northern Colorado Eagles in their opening weekend. They lost their next three games by a combined four goals, again so close. They then lost their next 11 games, many of them not so close. A few weeks ago they finally picked up their first victories of the season, on the road against the Steamboat Wranglers. They won the first two games of that series 5-2 and 5-0. They dropped the third game 7-5. Last weekend they played a single game at home, falling 8-1 to the Eagles. The Stampede have scored 47 goals and allowed 125 this season. That -78 goal differential is the second worst in the WSHL.

Stampede Historically

  • The Mustangs and Stampede both entered the WSHL in the 2011-12 season. For the Stampede, they saw considerable success in their first three seasons, but struggled in the next four. They had 22 wins in year one, 26 in year two and a franchise-high 28 in year three. In year four, after some division realignment, their win total dropped down to 17. In year five it was back up to 22, but they remained under .500 for the season. In year six they were back to 17 wins. Last season they won a franchise-worst two games. The Stampede have often recruited well and brought in top-level talent early in their history. They’ve struggled to find the right coach, however, with changes in their head coaching position nearly every season. They had three different coaches last season, but importantly, the coach they finished last season with, is back again this season: Neil Breen.

All-time Series

  • Friday will be the 36th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and the Stampede. Dating back to 2011-12, the Mustangs lead the all-time series 28-7. The Stampede won the first seven of eight matchups in 2011 and 2012, but since then the Mustangs have won a remarkable 27 in a row from 2013-2017. The two teams met in Cheyenne for a series already this season, Nov. 9-11. The Mustangs won those games 13-2, 7-1 and 9-0.

Players to Watch

  • For the Stampede, they’re led by Bryan Watters who has 25 points in 20 games. Jeremy Valazquez is behind him with 21 points in 13 games. Ben Gloe is third in scoring with 15 points in 19 games. Watters and Gloe played together the past two seasons at the Coeur d’Alene Hockey Academy. The Stampede have eight returners from last season’s team, including: Nicholas LammeMatthew LyszyckHakan SaltLogan Syrup and Danny Yockey. In goal, It’s been Yockey sharing time with both Brendan Carew and Juho Salmela. Carew has the best numbers of the three with a 5.00 save percentage and .889 save percentage.
  • For the Mustangs,  Rhett Rampinelli continues to lead the charge with 45 points. He’s led the league in scoring for the majority of the season, but with two weeks without games, he’s now down to seventh overall, 14 points behind the leader. Ammon Anderson is second in team scoring with 35 points, continuing his impressive season as a 17 year old. In the Mustangs’ last series in OKC, it was the line of Bryson BartellCannon Rogers and Lukas Kucera who led the way. Ryan Mascali leads the Mustang defense corps, now with a “C” on his jersey, officially named the team captain. The Mustang defense has gotten very deep with Mascali, Matts ThielemannJohn Shively and Oliver Wieringa as possibly the best group of top four defensemen on any WSHL team. In goal this weekend, things will be a little different for the Mustangs. Artur Ogandzhanyan is currently playing for team Ukraine in the World Junior Championships. He’ll be back with the Mustangs for the Western States Shootout. He’s sitting at a 1.92 goals against average and .927 save percentage this season. After just a brief stint in Ogden, Owen Zdunski has headed back to the NAHL. That leaves Alex Neverve and brand-new addition and former Idaho IceCat Jake Hough between the pipes this weekend. Hough just joined the team this week after starting the season with the Skipjacks Hockey Club in the USPHL Premier. He had a 1.84 goals against average and .935 save percentage in seven games this season. He had a 1.83 goals against average and .921 save percentage in 21 starts with the IceCats last season.

Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes

  • Mustangs special teams statistics:
    Powerplay – 21/99 – 21% (8th)
    Penalty kill – 74/86 – 86% (6th)
  • Stampede special teams statistics:
    Powerplay – 16/88 – 18% (12th)
    Penalty kill – 64/91 – 70% (21st)
  • Records watch:
    • Rampinelli has passed Alex Forbes for the No. 7 spot for all-time points in Mustangs history.
    • Gulliver has passed Austin Shea for the No. 7 spot for most games played in franchise history. Mascali has passed Corey Iapalucci for No. 5.
  • Players in/out of the lineup:
    Former Idaho IceCat goaltender Jake Hough joined the Mustangs this week and will make his Ogden debut this weekend
    Artur Ogandzhanyan is currently playing for his home country of Ukraine in the World Junior Championships and will return to the Mustangs for the Western States Shootout
    Owen Zdunski has returned to the NAHL and is no longer with the team
    Anders Johnson will make his season debut and will be in the lineup this weekend

WSHL Info

  • Mountain Division Standings
    Ogden Mustangs – 58 points
    Utah Outliers – 48 points
    Steamboat Wranglers – 14 points
    Casper Bobcats – 12 points
    Cheyenne Stampede – 7 point
  • Overall WSHL Standings
    Ogden Mustangs – 58 points
    Bellingham Blazers – 54 points
    Utah Outliers – 48 points
    Oklahoma City Blazers – 44 points
    Seattle Totems – 43 points

* Note the WSHL’s new point system this season: 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime or shootout win, 1 point for an overtime loss.

  • This weekend’s Mountain Division matchups
  • Friday
    Stampede at Mustangs
    Northern Colorado Eagles at Outliers
    Wranglers at Bobcats
  • Saturday
    Stampede at Mustangs
    Northern Colorado Eagles at Outliers
    Wranglers at Bobcats
  • Sunday
    Stampede at Mustangs
    Northern Colorado Eagles at Outliers
    Wranglers at Bobcats

What Jon’s Watching For

  1. Goaltending – With the Mustangs’ top two goaltenders up to this point of the season not available this weekend, how will Neverve and Hough fill in between the pipes?
  2. Fresh Legs – After two weeks without games, the Mustangs will be raring to go. What will that influx of energy translate to on the ice this weekend?
  3. Pushing the Pace – Coach Laime is constantly preaching the importance of winning the right way. Can the Mustangs push the pace, keep executing and stay sharp even in potential blowouts?

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