The playoffs are here! After a historic, record-setting regular season for the Ogden Mustangs, the slate is now wiped clean, and the Western States Hockey League playoffs begin. In Round 1 it’s the Mustangs taking on the Steamboat Wranglers in a best-of-three series. Do not miss the action as the postseason quest begins for the Mustangs first Thorne Cup in franchise history.
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 finished the regular season with a franchise-best record of 47-2-2. It’s the second best record in WSHL history. The Mustangs finished No. 1 in the Mountain Division and No. 1 overall in the WSHL. They had last weekend off. Their most recent action was against this same Wrangler team but in Steamboat. The Mustangs swept the series with 10-2, 9-1 and 10-2 victories. The Mustangs ended the regular season with eight straight wins.
- 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.
Wranglers this Season
- The Wranglers finished the their inaugural WSHL regular season with a record of 8-40-1-2. They finished No. 4 in the Mountain Division and No. 20 in the WSHL. The Wrangler were supposed to face the Cheyenne Stampede for a play-in playoff series last weekend, but the No. 5 Stampede forfeit the series, allowing the Wranglers to advance automatically. With their most recent action being their sweep to the hands of the Mustangs, the Wranglers have now lost 12 straight games.
- This is the first season in the WSHL for the Wranglers, and their third season of existence overall. This season they have a new coach and new ownership than previous seasons. The Wranglers made it to the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League championship game in each of the past two seasons, winning the championship last season. They went a combined 58-17 over the past two seasons. The Wranglers are coached by Ryan Dingle, who has quite the story. He played part of his youth hockey in Steamboat Springs as kid, then went on to have a career that featured three seasons in the USHL, four at NCAA DI Denver, AHL and ECHL stops, three seasons in Italy and his final three seasons in Great Britain. He was teammates with former Mustang David Clements in Coventry just last season, before retiring. Needless to say, this is his first season coaching.
- Friday will be the 10th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and the Wranglers. All nine previous matchups have taken place this season. The Mustangs are 9-0 in those games, with an average margin of victory of 6.9 goals.
Players to Watch
- For the Wranglers, they were led in scoring for most of the season by Avery Albert, who is a WSHL journeyman. He’s played 180 total WSHL games, with stops playing for the Colorado RoughRiders, Colorado Evolution and Superior RoughRiders. It’s been Sebastian Culver and JJ Landers, who’ve overtaken the team scoring lead. Culver had points in all three games against the Mustangs two weeks ago (two goals and an assist). Culver’s a youngster, turning 18 years old this season. He leads the team in assists (25) and points (38). Landers is also an interesting story. At 5-feet-2-inches, he’s the shortest player in the WSHL, but he manages to find his way into scoring areas and get his name on the scoresheet. He leads the team in goals (16) and is second in points (37). In goal, the Wranglers have four goaltenders on the roster who’ve all seen a lot of playing time this season. Jordan Belley has gotten the majority of work, though. He’s put together some remarkable in Ogden earlier this season with 64-, 56- and 55-save outings. Although his goals against average is 4.23, he still has a save percentage above .900.
- For the Mustangs, Rhett Rampinelli and Ammon Anderson have been quite a one-two punch this season. Both finished the regular season with 100+ points this season (Rampinelli -132, Anderson – 104), joining only five other Mustangs to ever do that. Rampinelli finished in the top five in WSHL scoring. The two combined for a ridiculous 31 points in their last three games alone. While those guys have led the charge, there have been plenty of other contributors this season for the No. 1 scoring team in the WSHL. In comparison to their opponent this weekend, the Mustangs have 12 players who have more points this season than Steamboat’s leading scorer. Lukas Vacin finished third in scoring (65 points), then Ian Currie (64 points), then Kerry Kruzel (63 points) to round out the top five. 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 with the addition of Canadian Tier II veteran defenseman Stephon Perreault, they are extremely deep at the position. In goal, Artur Ogandzhanyan put up some incredible numbers this season with a 1.70 goals against average and a league-best .938 save percentage.
Team Stats/Statistics/Other Player Notes
- Mustangs special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 24% (5th)
Penalty kill – 89% (2nd)
– The Mustangs were No. 2 in the WSHL with 19 shorthanded goals this season
- Wranglers special teams statistics:
Powerplay – 11% (23rd)
Penalty kill – 73% (20th)
- Final Division Regular Season Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 143 points
Utah Outliers – 104 points
Casper Bobcats – 50 points
Steamboat Wranglers – 28 points
Cheyenne Stampede – 27 points
- Final WSHL Regular Season Standings
Ogden Mustangs – 143 points
El Paso Rhinos – 120 points
Long Beach Bombers – 119 points
Oklahoma City Blazers – 116 points
Edson Aeros – 114 points
Seattle Totems – 106 points
Bellingham Blazers – 105 points
Utah Outliers – 104 points
Fresno Monsters – 100 points
- This weekend’s first-round WSHL playoff matchups
- Mountain Division
No. 4 Wranglers at No. 1 Mustangs
No. 3 Bobcats at No. 2 Outliers
- Midwest Division
No. 4 Snipers at No. 1 Rhinos
No. 3 Eagles at No. 2 Blazers
- Northwest Division
No. 1 Totems get a bye
No. 3 Spartans at No. 2 Blazers
- Western Division
No. 4 Avalanche at No. 1 Bombers
No. 3 Sabers at No. 2 Monsters
- Provincial Division
No. 4 Wings at No. 1 Aeros
No. 3 Mustangs at No. 2 Wildcats
What Jon’s Watching For
- Intensity – With playoff hockey comes an added level of intensity. Even with the prospect of blowouts this weekend, expect a little more juice and a little more fire from the Mustangs this weekend.
- Pace – 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 to prepare for much tougher hockey ahead. They’ll most likely have the Outliers just next weekend in what is sure to be an intense division finals.
- Top Line – Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a number of different players spend time on the Mustangs’ top line, alongside Rampinelli and Anderson. We even saw defenseman Matej Krejsa fill the spot for a period (and score two goals while there). Who’ll get the nod for that spot this weekend?