The Ogden Mustangs started off their home schedule with three victories last weekend over the Casper Bobcats, in a 7-3, 7-1, 7-0 sweep.
The wins put the Mustangs at 4-0 and first place overall in the Western States Hockey League, still extremely early into the 51-game schedule. The Mustangs also have the two top scorers in the WSHL in Rhett Rampinelli and Kerry Kruzel. Both have four goals and five assists in four games.
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The Mustangs will take the early successes but know they have plenty to work on. Mustangs head coach Jake Laime has always focused on his teams learning to win the right way, not developing bad habits, playing a full 60 minutes and not having anything handed to them. It’s that sort of effort and discipline that’s led the Mustangs to back-to-back Thorne Cup Finals.
“We didn’t win the right way,” Laime said about last weekend. “Offensively, we were able to control most of the play, but we neglected our structure and gave them the neutral zone. There’s still work to be done on the defensive side of the puck, and we need to be more opportunistic offensively.”
This weekend, the Mustangs get a chance to get right back to work, another chance to move forward, with what’s expected to be one of the tougher tests they’ll face on home ice this season as the Northern Colorado Eagles come to town.
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The Eagles and Mustangs have a history of thrilling matchups over the past few seasons. Most recently, the Mustangs ended the Eagles’ past season in the division semi finals last March. It was a wild series with the Eagles stunning the Mustangs in the first game and the Mustangs bouncing back with back-to-back comeback victories to take the series.
Friday with be the 40th all-time meeting between the Mustangs and Eagles. Remarkably, 13 of the 39 previous meetings have come in the playoffs.
The Mustangs will continue to rely on their returners from last season to lead the way for them. With Rampinelli and Kruzel notching nine points a piece, Ryan Mascali is right behind them with eight points — all assists, Ian Currie has seven points, Harry Gulliver has six points and Ammon Anderson has six points.
Those lone six returners from last season’s team are the six leading scorers on this season’s team.
Bryson Bartell and Matts Thielemann, who both started this season with NAHL teams, are now back with the Mustangs, making the returner corps even stronger at eight.
The new additions to the team have definitely been pulling their weight as well. Perhaps most notably, Artur Ogandzhanyan has been a brick wall in goal. He made a number of remarkable saves through Friday and Saturday’s games last weekend. Ethan Racz and Alex Neverve shared time as well between the pipes for the Mustangs. Offensively, newcomers Lukas Vacin, Samuel Sabos, Oliver Wieringa and Shane Gilbert each have multiple points so far this season.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Get your tickets now online at tickets.ogdenmustangs.com.