The Ogden Mustangs and Cheyenne Stampede will meet for three games this weekend at the Weber County Ice Sheet in a late-season matchup. While the Mustangs have the No. 1 overall spot in the Western States Hockey League clinched, the Stampede find themselves just a single spot out of fourth place in the division after a series victory at home last weekend. Both teams are looking for a solid series to keep momentum rolling toward the fast-approaching playoffs.
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 41-2-2 They’re coming off home-and-home victories over the Utah Outliers last weekend, 3-1 at home and 6-1 in Salt Lake. Before that, the Mustangs had a tight series against the Long Beach Bombers at home, where they won two of the three matchups. The score overall in the series was 7-7. The Mustangs remain the No. 1 scoring team overall in the WSHL, with 285 goals scored in 45 games. They’re also the top defensive team in the league, allowing just 78 goals this season.
- 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. With the Mustangs clinching the No. 1 spot in the WSHL standings this season, it’s the first time in franchise history that the team will finish the regular season first overall in the league.
Stampede this Season
- The Stampede enter this weekend with a record of 7-37-2-2. They’re coming off a series victory at home last weekend over the Casper Bobcats, winning 6-4 on Friday, losing 4-1 on Saturday and winning 5-2 on Sunday. It was their third series victory of the season. The weekend before, they were swept at home by the Outliers, losing 5-3, 9-2 and 11-0. The Stampede are the second-most penalized team in the WSHL, hitting the 1200 penalty minute mark last weekend. That’s an average of 10+ penalties per game. They have four players with 110+ penalty minutes individually this season. Their leader in penalty minutes has 155 penalty minutes in 23 games. (For comparison, the Mustangs are the third-least penalized team in the league this season with 637 penalty minutes, with their individual penalty-minute leader at 86 penalty minutes in 45 games.)
- 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. The Stampede have never won a playoff series in franchise history, with an all-time playoff record of 1-8 in the postseason.
- Friday will be the 39th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and the Stampede. Dating back to 2011-12, the Mustangs lead the all-time series 31-7. The Stampede won the first seven of eight matchups in 2011 and 2012, but since then the Mustangs have won a remarkable 30 in a row from 2013-2017. Although we don’t have an official league record book to compare this against, the 30-game winning streak is in all likelihood the longest single winning streak agains the same opponent in WSHL history. The two teams have already met six times this season, first in Cheyenne for a series Nov. 9-11. The Mustangs won those games 13-2, 7-1 and 9-0. The Mustangs then hosted the Stampede in Ogden Dec. 7-9 and won those games 11-0, 7-3 and 10-1.
Players to Watch
- For the Stampede, they’re led by Logan Syrup who has 41 points in 44 games. Hakan Salt is second in scoring with 33 points. Kody Kifer is third with 22 points but leads the team in points per game. He is also the team’s penalty-minute leader. His 155 penalty minutes are the fifth most in the WSHL. Dawson Nelson and Gavin Miller are the only other two remaining players on the roster with more than 10 points this season. They’ve shipped off much of their top talent this season, including Bryan Watters who had 53 points in 42 games for the Stampede this season. He ended up with the Outliers, where he faced the Mustangs last weekend. In goal, the Stampede are led by Brendan Carew, who leads the WSHL in shots faced this season, with a mind-boggling 1607. In his 28 games played of record, that’s an average of 57 shots faced per game. The 1607 total is nearly 500 more shots faced than the WSHL goalie who’s faced the second most, and that goalie’s played in 38 games.
- For the Mustangs, Rhett Rampinelli, as he’s done consistently all season long, continues to lead the team in scoring. He’s fifth overall in WSHL scoring with 102 points. With three points this weekend, he’ll hit the third highest single season point total in franchise history. With six points, he’ll tie Schuyler Seyfert for second all time in all-time points as a Mustang. Ammon Anderson is second in team scoring with 80 points, continuing his impressive season as a 17 year old. Lots of other contributions have been coming throughout the lineup. Shane Gilbert had the hot hand with two game-winning goals two weekends ago. Aidan McAleer had his first two-goal game as a Mustang in his last outing against the Outliers. Ryan Mascali leads the Mustangs defense corps, with the “C” on his chest. The Mustangs depth on defense continues to be an asset, led by Mascali, Matts Thielemann, John Shively, Oliver Wieringa and now with the addition of Canadian Tier II veteran defenseman Stephon Perreault, they are extremely deep at the position. Perreault is still looking for his first point as a Mustang. In goal, Artur Ogandzhanyan continues to put up impressive numbers this season with a 1.69 goals against average and a league-best .938 save percentage. We’ll see if he gets a rest this weekend after starting the Mustangs’ past 12 games in a row. Perhaps we’ll see the debut of Kevin Tardiff, a big, new Mustangs goaltender acquired in the final moments at the trade deadline.
Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes
- Mustangs special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 52/219 – 24% (5th)
– The Mustangs are 1/13 in the past 5 gms
Penalty kill – 166/185 – 90% (2nd)
– The Mustangs lead the WSHL with 17 shorthanded goals
- Stampede special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 42/189 – 15% (20th)
Penalty kill – 172/231 – 74% (18th)
- Mountain Division Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 125 points
Utah Outliers – 86 points
Casper Bobcats – 50 points
Steamboat Wranglers – 28 points
Cheyenne Stampede – 27 points
- Overall WSHL Standings
Ogden – 125 pts – 6 gms left
El Paso – 111 pts – 3 gms left
Long Beach – 103 pts – 7 gms left
Bellingham – 101 pts – 5 gms left
Oklahoma City – 98 pts – 6 gms left
* 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.
What Jon’s Watching For
- Depth – Since the trade deadline, the Mustangs have really shored up some needs nicely and are rolling four, complete lines effectively. The fourth line of McKinley, McAleer and Engan has been especially solid over the past five games. Expect to see a lot of those guys this weekend. On the other side of the ice, don’t expect to see the Stampede’s fourth line, for they do not have one. Cheyenne dressed just 15 skaters in last weekend’s series. That lack of depth can absolutely kill teams against a roster filled with speed like the Mustangs’, but also on an Olympic-sized ice surface.
- Not Playing to the Opponent’s Level – It can be difficult, but despite what the scoreboard says, the Mustangs must keep the foot on the gas throughout the weekend if they want this series to be productive. The playoffs are too close to be slacking at this point.
- Who’s the No. 2 Goalie – It looks like this weekend could be a prime time for the Mustangs to establish who’s the No. 2 goaltender behind Ogandzhanyan. Tardiff could make his debut. Both Hough and Neverve have had some inspired stretches of play this season. Pay attention to who gets the nods between the pipes this weekend.