The Ogden Mustangs kept their winning streak alive, but not without some anxious moments, last weekend on the road against the San Diego Sabers.
The out-of-division matchup was the first time the franchises had played each other in seven years. The Mustangs were 0-4 all-time in the previous meetings.
In the first game of the weekend, the Mustangs found themselves in a 1-1 tie after the first period. After the slow start, the Mustangs went on to outscore the Sabres 7-1 in the remainder of the game for the 8-2 victory. Mustangs leading scorer Rhett Rampinelli had a remarkable outing, scoring a hat trick and adding two assists. It was his fifth game this season with five or more points in a game.
The next night, the Mustangs again had the Sabres hanging around through the early portion of the game. This time they kept it tight through two periods, with the score just 2-1 going into the third. Ethan McKinley scored with 13:41 left in the game to finally give the Mustangs a two-goal lead. Ian Currie and Matts Thielemann would add two more to make it a 5-1 final. This was a bizarre game where the Mustangs officially had an unbelievable 112 shots on goal.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ethan. 🙏
— Ogden Mustangs (@OgdenMustangs) January 27, 2019
In the finale, the Sabers again played the Mustangs tight. This time, after a couple of back-to-back powerplay goals midway through the second period, the Sabers found themselves with a 4-2 lead. The Mustangs managed to answer with five unanswered goals to end the game and took the 7-4 victory. Rampinelli had two goals and an assist in the game. McKinley also had two goals.
It wasn’t the sharpest brand of hockey we’ve seen the Mustangs play this season, but they managed to find the way to grab the nine points.
“We had some really sloppy play, with disregard for pretty much everything that makes us successful,” said Mustangs head coach Jake Laime. “There were some difficult playing conditions there with a really low ceiling, bad lighting, small, soft ice and extremely live boards. San Diego was a hard-working team. But we’ve got to play much better.”
The main problem for Laime is the potential for bad habits to develop from a series like this.
“We were again rewarded for decisions and efforts that won’t cut it when it matters,” Laime said.
This emphasis on playing up to their potential, not settling or being complacent, has been a focus of the Mustangs’ all season long. As playoff time approaches, along with the Thorne Cup Finals ahead, we’re in crunch time.
Mustangs offensive leaders last weekend:
Rampinelli – 6 goals, 3 assists
Ammon Anderson – 1 goal, 5 assists
Bryson Bartell – 2 goals, 3 assists
Thielemann – 1 goal, 4 assists
Shane Gilbert – 1 goal, 3 assists
McKinley – 3 goals
Currie – 2 goals, 1 assist
Artur Ogandzhanyan played all 180 minutes of the series in goal and made some remarkable saves to keep the Mustangs in the tight portions of last weekend’s games. His .933 save percentage this season is the best in the WSHL.
Next up, the Mustangs have two games on the road in Salt Lake this weekend. Two wins over the Utah Outliers there would clinch the regular season Mountain Division title for the Mustangs.
The next home games are in mid February when the Long Beach Bombers, who are fifth overall in the WSHL right now, come to town for a three game series.
Hear more from Coach Laime, along with his guests this week, assistant coach Ross Kovacs and goaltender Artur Ogandzhanyan at this week’s Ogden Mustangs Coach’s Corner.
Lukas Kucera is no longer with the team and returned to the USPHL. Harry Gulliver returned to the Mustangs after missing time while competing with the Great Britain U20 team. Kerry Kruzel and Anders Johnson both missed some time with minor injuries/illness last weekend. Both are expected to be ready to go this weekend.