Two of the top three teams in the Western States Hockey League squared off at the Weber County Ice Sheet last weekend as the Ogden Mustangs hosted the Long Beach Bombers’ for the teams’ first ever three-game series against each other.
Friday’s and Saturday’s games were very similar. In both games the Mustangs went up 1-0 with first period goals. In both games the Bombers came back to tie things up 1-1. That tie stood into the latter portion of the third period in both games. And in both games it was Shane Gilbert getting the game-winning goals for the Mustangs.
What a game, and what a finish. Here’s the game-winning goal courtesy of last night’s No. 1 star Shane Gilbert, making it 2-1 with just 1:03 left in the 3rd. #OMHockey @WSHLHockey pic.twitter.com/zOdiTA47Me
— Ogden Mustangs (@OgdenMustangs) February 16, 2019
Both games saw phenomenal play from the two statistically-best goaltenders in the WSHL, Artur Ogandzhanyan for the Mustangs and Domenic Bosetti for the Bombers.
Sunday’s game was a little different. As in the previous games, the Mustangs went up 1-0 on a Matts Theilemann goal, but then the Bombers came back to rattle off three straight. The Mustangs eventually came back to tie the game 3-3, but the Bombers got a fourth goal late, as well as an empty netter to make it a 5-3 final.
“Sunday, we just played with no purpose,” said Mustangs head coach Jake Laime. “We challenged each other in the third, and we saw what we were capable of. I believe shots were 19-3 in the third. Tying the game and having five minutes left, we lacked the defensive composure needed to shut the game down and force extra time, which would have awarded us points.”
Even with the victories Friday and Saturday, Laime felt his team could’ve been better.
“I don’t think we played hard,” Laime said. “We skated well and hustled, but we didn’t make ourselves hard to play against. We generated very few secondary opportunities on shots and very few hits. We need to learn how to battle adversity and make better, less-emotional decisions.”
As the highest-scoring team in the WSHL, the seven goals in three games was far-below average for the Mustangs.
“Capitalizing on opportunities is huge,” Laime said. “We failed to capitalize on at least three or four breakaways over the weekend. Those are difference makers.”
Sunday’s loss ended the Mustangs’ 21-game home winning streak this season and is the team’s lone loss at The Ice Sheet. The Mustangs now sit at 39-2-2 this season with a league-best 119 points.
Current WSHL Top 10
Ogden – 119 pts – 8 gms left
El Paso – 104 pts – 6 gms left
Long Beach – 97 pts – 10 gms left
OKC – 96 pts – 9 gms left
Bellingham – 92 pts – 8 gms left
Fresno – 91 pts – 5 gms left
Edson – 87 pts – 9 gms left
Utah – 86 pts – 8 gms left
Northern Colorado – 77 pts – 6 gms left
Seattle – 71 pts – 12 gms left
The Mustangs will clinch the No. 1 overall spot heading into the playoffs with just three more victories. Three victories will also match the Mustangs’ franchise record for regular-season wins.
Gilbert led the charge offensively with the two game-winning goals for the Mustangs. Thielemann, Rhett Rampinelli, Ian Currie, Kerry Kruzel and Ammon Anderson had the other Ogden goals. John Shively led all players in points with three assists.
Rampinelli had the first goal of the series 37 seconds into Friday’s game. He added an assist in Sunday’s game. That assist gives him 100 points this season. He’s only the fourth Mustang to ever reach the 100-point plateau in a single season, joining Matus Spodniak, Jacob Lauren and Ross Bartlett who each reached 100 points last season.
Up next for the Mustangs is a home-and-home this weekend with the Utah Outliers. It’ll be the eighth and ninth matchups this season between the teams, who appear to be on another collision course with each other for the division finals in the playoffs.