The last weekend in October was another busy one around the WSHL, as teams really start to make their moves and fight for what looks to be four tight division races.
Below is a summary of each weekend series/game:
San Diego Gulls (1-9-1, 6th in Pacific Division) @ El Paso Rhinos (9-0-0, T-1st in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in El Paso, Texas
Speaking of tough places to play, the El Paso Rhinos opened up their home slate over the weekend by welcoming in the San Diego Gulls and stayed perfect with their third sweep of the season.
Playing against a young Gulls squad, the Rhinos used their speed and physicality to dictate play over the three games and it started from the outset.
Nick Plesa, Roman Konecny and Tyler Elson each notched first period markers to pace the Rhinos to a 3-0 lead in the series opener before the Gulls even knew what hit them.
San Diego did get within one in the second, on goals by Kyle Rimbach and Kalvis Ozols but El Paso ramped it right back up in the third, as Plesa’s second of the game and Trey Hughes’ first, made it 5-2 in favor of the Rhinos, before Ozols second of the game for San Diego made it 5-3, which ended up being the final score.
Plesa’s two goals were big for the Rhinos but his brother, Matthew, notched three assists to lead El Paso in the victory.
Ozols was solid in his Gulls debut, scoring two goals, while veteran Mark Birchall added two assists, as well.
In net, Adam Vay remained perfect, stopping 25 of 28 for the Rhinos, while Brody Cavataio took the loss for San Diego, allowing five goals on 50 shots.
Matthew Plesa, Dakota Beaulieu and David Nelson each scored to pace the Rhinos to a 3-0 first period lead once again the next night and this time, they were able to cruise to a 6-1 win.
Tom Bartel picked up three assists in the victory, while Peter Plesa, Chris Wilhite, Nelson and Beaulieu also enjoyed multi-point nights for El Paso. Vay was once again the winner in net, improving his record to 8-0-0 while stopping 22 of 23.
Veteran forward Eric Baldwin notched San Diego’s only goal of the night, while Filip Lukac took the loss in net, stopping 34 of the 40 shots he faced.
The Gulls were able to stick around early on in the finale and put together another strong game but the Rhinos attack was just too much, as they pulled away late in a 6-2 victory and series sweep.
Trailing 2-1 after the opening frame, Wesley Varrasso’s first of the season tied it up for San Diego early in the second but from that point on, it was all El Paso on the scoreboard, as they notched four straight goals, with Beaulieu and Wilhite scoring before the end of the second and Matthew Plesa and Chad Cesarz sealing things in the third.
Vay, the only goaltender to take the net for El Paso this season, improved his record to 9-0-0 while stopping 25 of 27, while San Diego’s third goalie of the weekend, Eric Eidessen, took the loss at the other end, stopping 32 of 38.
El Paso continued their early season dominance in the three wins but San Diego did pretty well for themselves, keeping all three games close in shots, giving themselves a shot in each.
They have a ton of fresh faces on their roster that were thrown into the fire, playing in such a hostile territory and they responded admirably.
Craig Carlyle isn’t one for moral victories but I’m sure he’ll take a number of positives into their home-and-home series with Long Beach this weekend.
The Rhinos have been on fire to start the season and are only getting better.
They have unbelievable depth at every position and have the skill, speed and physicality to match any team in the league.
Already playing in all nine games, I worried a bit about Vay wearing down but the Rhinos have the next three weeks off before hosting the Texas Brahmas, so he should be fine.
Texas Brahmas (7-6-1, 3rd in Midwest Division) @ Tulsa Jr. Oilers (1-8-0, 6th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Texas Brahmas’ ups and downs continued on Friday night with a loss to the previously winless Tulsa Jr. Oilers but Jeremy Law and company bounced back by winning the next two games of the series.
It wasn’t a lack of effort that lost the game for the Brahmas on Friday, as they slung 51 shots on net but Eric Messer got revenge on his former team, stopping all but two of those shots in a 3-2 win for his new team, the Tulsa Jr. Oilers.
Hakim Senni scored the lone goal in the opening period to pace Tulsa to a 1-0 lead and just 32 seconds into the middle frame, they led 2-0 after a Derek Smith marker.
Texas responded near the midway point of the period with a goal from captain Landyn Howze and knotted it up 13:48 into the third on a goal from another veteran forward, Cole Rose.
With 3:36 left in regulation however, it was Smith’s second goal of the game that lifted Tulsa to the 3-2 victory in front of the home crowd.
Although the shot totals were much closer the next night, the Brahmas played far better in all three zones and won 4-0 behind a 28-save shutout effort in net from Oliver Eklund.
Again it was the pair of veterans, Howze and Rose, leading by example and notching two points a-piece in the Texas win.
Tulsa allowed fewer shots to get through to Messer, 41 in total but couldn’t find a way to convert on any of their ten power play chances on the night, which seemed to kill any chance of momentum.
Messer stood on his head once again in the finale, stopping 81 of the 84 shots he faced, as the Brahmas put on a shooting gallery but his efforts weren’t enough, as Tulsa fell by a score of 3-1.
Texas shot from anywhere and everywhere and despite a scoreless first period, they kept pushing forward and tallied all three of their goals in the middle frame, with Howze again collecting a goal and an assist to lead the way.
Tulsa’s lone goal came off the stick of Devan Beck just six seconds before the end of the second period and although it pulled them to within two goals, they were never really in the game.
Ryan Mulka got the start in net for Texas and picked up the victory in a light day of work, stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced.
Although the Brahmas seemed to find their way as the weekend went along, Law is not going to be happy with the early season struggles and will certainly be working to iron out some wrinkles during the bye week, before they play the Dallas Ice Jets November 8-10.
Tulsa’s second season in the WSHL has started out very similar to their first, as they haven’t exactly beaten down the doors but make no mistake, they are a much better team than they were at this time last year.
Aside from Sunday’s game, their defense has been playing much better and has done a good job of limiting scoring chances on their goaltenders. The play of Eric Messer is also a plus, as with no returning goaltenders on the roster, he has stepped in and done a fine job.
They return to action this weekend when they host the rival Wichita Jr. Thunder for three.
Dallas Snipers (9-5-0, T-1st in Midwest Division) @ Wichita Jr. Thunder (3-12-0, 5th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Wichita, Kansas
Although it was much closer than a combined 26-2 over a three-game sweep to open up the season, the Dallas Snipers went into Wichita and took all three games from the Jr. Thunder, sweeping the season series in the process.
Despite Wichita looking vastly improved over the last few weeks alone, the Snipers once again used the tough play of their veteran leaders to wear down the Jr. Thunder over the three games and add six more points to their division-leading total.
In the opener, third-year forward Shane Bonds notched three goals and an assist and the Snipers tallied three third period goals to come from behind and win by a score of 5-3.
The Snipers twice took the lead over the opening two periods but give Wichita credit, as they fought back each time to tie it up and took the lead late in the second period on a power play goal from Jack McClelland.
Trailing 3-2, the Snipers picked up the pace in third but couldn’t knot it up until the 13:57 mark, on a goal from veteran forward Aaron Krominga and continued their surge, eventually taking the lead for good with just 1:21 left in regulation on an Emil Melin marker, before Bonds’ empty-netter sealed his hat-trick and the win.
Emil Eriksson took the win in net for Dallas, stopping 29 of the 33 shots he faced, while Jake Larson played well at the other end for Wichita but was hit with the loss, allowing four goals on 36 shots.
The next night was all Snipers, as they peppered Jr. Thunder goaltender Marco Medina with 58 shots and broke out for five third period goals in a 6-1 win.
After a scoreless opening frame, Bonds got Dallas on the board first at 12:56 of the second period but Phillip Molton answered with a goal for Wichita less than three minutes later to knot it up.
Entering the third period tied at one, the Snipers threw 32 shots on Medina over the final 20 minutes and scored five times in the victory.
Bonds finished the night with two goals and an assist to once again lead the Snipers, while forwards Melin and Zach Lawson and defenseman Luke Grignano each added a goal and an assist, as well.
Alex Bebriss-Fedotovs took the win in net for Dallas, stopping 18 of the 19 shots he faced, while Medina was hung with the loss for Wichita, allowing six goals on 58 shots.
Lawson followed up a good performance on Saturday night with an even better one on Sunday for Dallas, scoring three goals and an assist and helping the Snipers to the sweep in a 6-3 victory.
Lawson opened the scoring with a power play marker just 5:15 into regulation, only to be answered minuets later by Joel Gellvear’s first of two on the day for Wichita.
Showing their ability to score goals in bunches, the Snipers took the lead back late in the first and added three straight early in the second to blow the game wide open and despite a strong pushback from Wichita, were able to hold on for the win.
Nick Ross, the busiest of the three Dallas goaltenders of the weekend, stopped 36 of 39 in the win, while Larson took the loss again for Wichita, allowing five goals on 36 shots.
Any series in which you fail to pick up points isn’t good but Wichita looked much better than they did against the same Snipers just a few weeks back and really do have a lot of positives moving forward, including the play of their goaltenders.
They’ll be on the road this weekend, when they head to Tulsa for three with the Jr. Oilers, who they swept at home a couple of weeks ago.
The Dallas Snipers just keep on playing solid hockey and have now won six straight games. They’ll need their veterans to stay hot this weekend, as they face the Dallas Ice Jets twice, a team they haven’t been able to defeat once over two seasons.
Boulder Bison (6-2-0, 1st in Mountain Division) @ New Mexico Renegades (0-9-0, 6th in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Playing at home for the first time this season, the struggles didn’t subside for the New Mexico Renegades, as the Boulder Bison came to town and took the clean sweep in dominating fashion.
The Behrens brothers, Hunter and Kevin, each notched two goals and Chris Lupinski had a goal and three assists, leading the Bison to a 10-0 victory to open up the series.
Boulder threw 79 shots on New Mexico goaltender Jon Groth and swarmed in the offensive zone for most of the game, using their speed and tenacity to force turnovers, many of which led directly to goals.
Also enjoying multi-point games for the Bison were Matt Hefter, Greg Sodbinow, Charles Joly, Aidan Doughty, Seth Ensor and Chance Creger, while goaltender Colin Champine stopped all seven shots he faced in net.
Hefter, the veteran d-man, had an even better night in game two, picking up four helpers in another 10-0 win for Boulder.
The Bison again threw a ton of rubber on net, totaling 60 shots and notched two power play and three short-handed makers in the win.
Ensor, Doughty and Tanner West each notched two goals in the win for the Bison, while Brandon Yinger stopped all 11 shots he faced in net.
Despite the two big losses, the Renegades didn’t just pack it in and take the loss laying down on Sunday, as they fought hard and fell by a score of just 3-1.
Wesley Callens’ goal, scored midway through the opening period, was the Renegades first power play goal of the season and gave the home team their first lead of the 2013-2014 season.
Behind solid goaltending from Groth, who stopped 60 of 62 on the day, the Renegades held the 1-0 lead until the 4:26 mark of the third period, when West’s goal knotted it up for Boulder.
Casey Riccatone’s goal at 12:34 gave the Bison the lead for good, before Creger’s empty-netter sealed the 3-1 victory with 10 seconds left before the buzzer.
Riccatone and West each finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Champine turned aside 10 of 11 in net, picking up the victory while also assisting on a goal.
The lopsided losses can’t be easy to take but the Renegades have continued to play and play hard, at that. They played much better in Sunday’s game and with their roster starting to round out, their first win shouldn’t be too far away.
In their defense, their schedule early in the season has been brutal and it won’t get any easier this weekend, as they host the Cheyenne Stampede for three.
Boulder and head coach Paul DePuydt did a good job of not running up the score over the first two games and got everyone in on the action.
They were able to move the puck with ease, as their speed was a riddle the Renegades couldn’t solve all weekend.
Felling good and at the top of their division, the Bison will face a real challenge this weekend, when they host the Idaho Jr. Steelheads for three, a team they have played better than anyone in the league over the last few years.
Phoenix Knights (5-1-0, 2nd in Mountain Division) @ Cheyenne Stampede (2-3-0, 5th in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Coming into their weekend series with the Cheyenne Stampede, the Phoenix Knights hadn’t played a game in nearly a month but you would have never guessed that by watching them, as they continued a strong start to the season with a clean road sweep in Wyoming’s capital.
Veteran forward Jordan Cullum set the tempo early in the opener of the series, giving the visitors the lead just 47 seconds into regulation and they never let it go in a 4-2 win.
Cullum, who busted onto the scene late last season and did wonders for a struggling Knights offense at the time, finished the game with two goals to lead the way, while Robert Smith also added a pair of points with a goal and an assist.
Phoenix threw 47 on goal and veteran netminder Sam Mallory was solid in the loss for Cheyenne, stopping all but four, while Troy Anderson had an easier night of work at the other end, allowing two goals on 28 shots in the Phoenix win.
The Knights jumped out to a lead again in game two but it didn’t come until the second period, as the two teams skated to a scoreless opening frame, before Smith’s goal started the scoring just 1:04 into the middle stanza.
1:29 later, former Idaho Jr. Steelheads defenseman, Jacob Eisenstat answered to tie the game for Cheyenne but exactly one minute after that, Cullum gave the Knights the lead back for good and they carried on to a 6-2 victory.
Smith finished the game with two goals and two assists to lead the Knights, while Cullum, Shane Fitzpatrick and Max Mahood each picked up a goal and an assist, as well.
Mallory allowed six goals on 36 shots while taking the loss in net for the Stampede and Anderson picked up his second win in as many nights while stopping 33 of 35 for Phoenix.
The Stampede were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the finale of the series but Phoenix notched five straight goals in a flurry that began late in the second period and carried over into the third and it was enough to squeak out a 5-4 win and series sweep.
Second-year forward Jimmie Kotilainen’s power play goal at 10:03 of the opening frame gave Cheyenne their first lead of the weekend and captain Russell Armbruster extended it 2-0 with his goal at 4:22 of the second period.
With 6:02 left in the middle frame however, the Knights began their roll when Brynton MacNab put one home on the power play to make it 2-1 in favor of Cheyenne and Robert Crisci tied it up at 17:46.
The Knights were able to carry their momentum over into the third, as Cullum scored unassisted on the power play at 2:20 and Jordan Kaspick added another power play marker at 5:41 to make it 4-2 Phoenix. Cullum’s second of the game came just 41 seconds later and would wind up being the game-winner.
In a game filled with man advantages, Cheyenne scored two power play markers in the third to pull within a goal, thanks to Eisenstat and Ryan Plessinger but they couldn’t find a way to knot it up.
Cullum again led the Knights with three points on the day, while MacNab added a goal and an assist himself.
Kotilainen, Armbruster, Eisenstat and Heath Lantz each picked up a goal and an assist for the Stampede in the loss.
Anderson stopped 42 of 46 and went a perfect 3-0-0 on the weekend for the Knights by taking the win in net, while Mallory lost his third straight for Cheyenne, allowing five goals on 43 shots before being pulled midway through the third period.
The way the Phoenix Knights carried play against a feisty Cheyenne Stampede team shows just how good they are and a road sweep is never an easy feat, especially in Cheyenne, a team that really ramps it up at home.
The Knights now have everyone’s attention and can continue that with a solid showing at home this weekend against the Missoula Maulers.
Cheyenne played well over the three games and certainly had their chances but couldn’t find a way to get the timely goal and pull out a win.
They have only played five games thus far, so you have to imagine there’s still a few kinks to work out and once they get going, they’ll certainly be contending for the division crown.
They’ll have their chance to bounce back this weekend, as they head to New Mexico for three with the struggling Renegades.
Long Beach Bombers (3-7-0, T-4th in Pacific Division) @ Lake Tahoe Blue (7-7-1, 2nd in Pacific Division)
Three-game series in South Lake Tahoe, California
The Long Beach Bombers needed something big to turn their early season struggles around and they got just that in their first big road trip of the year, as they took two of three from the Lake Tahoe Blue.
Boasting one of the most powerful offenses in the league, the Bombers finally were able to bear down a little bit on defense and get the timely saves that they had been missing over their first seven games of the season, to get two big victories.
The opening game of the series wasn’t much of a pitchers duel, as the two teams combined for 14 goals in a 9-5 Long Beach victory.
The Bombers were outshot 20-11 in the opening frame but newcomer Lucas Paulsen made some big saves to keep the momentum swinging in their direction and they converted three times at the other end to take a 3-1 lead into the locker room, which they never let go of in the win.
Marcus Viitanen led the charge with five points for the Bombers, while Filip Martinec and Tomas Nemeth each added four.
Lake Tahoe, still skating a couple of men short, got goals from five different players, with Martin Vachal leading the team with three points in the loss.
Paulsen picked up the win in net for Long Beach in his first appearance with the team, stopping 47 of 52, while Frankie McClendon was hit with the loss in net for the Blue, allowing three goals on 23 shots, while splitting time with Troy Turpin.
After falling behind early in the opening period the next night, the Blue turned up the offense and scored three times in the period to take a 3-1 lead and held on for a 7-5 win.
Edgars Homjakovs and Vachal each notched two goals for the Blue, while Kyle Blondin, Mattia Bortolotto, Branislav Knost, Mark DeVaughn and Miguel Caron each enjoyed multi-point games as well. Returning from injury and picking up the win in net was Olivier Gervais, who stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced.
JT Banard led the Bombers with two goals and an assist, while Daniel Cepila returned to action between the pipes for them and allowed five goals on 45 shots in the loss.
The finale was the most exciting game of the weekend, as the two division rivals went blow for blow and needed extra time to solve it.
Despite being outshot 12-3 in the extra period, Long Beach prevailed by a score of 5-4 on Martinec’s second goal of the game.
Now the league’s leading scorer with 29 points, Martinec finished the game with four points, while top rookie Konstantin Kotkov added three for the Bombers.
Lake Tahoe was led by veteran forward Josh Mikes’ three assists, while Caron and Vachal finished up solid weekends with a pair of points each.
Paulsen moved his record to 2-0-0 with the win in net for Long Beach, as the Medford, Oregon native turned aside 37 of the 41 shots he saw and Gervais took the overtime loss for Lake Tahoe, allowing five goals on 41 shots faced.
After sputtering over their first few games, the Bombers are finally coming together and clicking on all cylinders.
Their offense has never been much of a question but they seem to have found a goaltender in Paulsen that can bail them out and their defense, despite allowing a good amount of goals and shots on the weekend, did play much better.
The Bombers will look to keep the momentum alive with a home-and-home series with the San Diego Gulls this weekend.
Lake Tahoe can score with anyone and despite essentially playing without a fourth line, they were able to hang with Long Beach in every game, showing a great deal of conditioning.
Still up and down a bit, the Blue will be looking to make the most of their home series against the Southern Oregon Spartans this weekend, as after that, their next six straight are on the road.
Fresno Monsters (11-1-0, 1st in Pacific Division) @ Ontario Avalanche (5-4-1, 3rd in Pacific Division)
Three-game series in Ontario, California
The Fresno Monsters took to the road again this weekend and continued their stellar play, as they swept the Ontario Avalanche to improve to a league-best 11-1-0 on the season.
Making their record through 12 games even more impressive is the fact that the Monsters have yet to play at home at Gateway Ice Center, where they’ll be able to pad their division lead as the season goes along.
Veteran forward Justin Plate, who recently returned from a stint with the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League, notched two goals and an assist in the opener to lead the Monsters to a 6-3 win.
Veterans littered the scoresheeet for Fresno, as Jordan Fontaine, Mark Shroyer and Austin Browning each tallied markers as well, while top newcomer Mike Nolan added a goal and an assist.
Ben Meadows and Alex Roihjert scored the two goals for Ontario, a team that features 16 veteran players but they fell behind 3-0 and could never get back in the game.
Austin Piquette stopped 21 of 24 in the Fresno crease for the win, while Drake Koegel took the loss in net for Ontario, allowing two goals on 13 shots, before getting ejected from the game for spearing.
Although the score was closer the next night, the Fresno offense flurried nearly the entire game and Evan Ingram’s second goal of the game lifted the visitors to a 3-2 overtime victory.
Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, Antoine Maillard’s goal at 9:34 knotted the game for Ontario but just over three minutes later, Fontaine gave the Monsters the lead back, with an assist going to Browning.
With their net empty and an extra attacker on the ice, Ontario swarmed in the Fresno zone and Brett Norman finally converted, jamming one past Piquette with just 14 seconds left before the buzzer and frcing overtime, where Ingram won it 2:03 in for Fresno.
Piquette stopped 27 of 29 and took the win in net for the Monsters, while Koegel stopped 43 of 46 at the other end and took the overtime loss for Ontario.
The Monsters frustrated one of the most disciplined teams in the league the next night, drawing penalties and converting for three power play goals, pulling away in a 5-2 win and series sweep.
Nolan’s four assists was tops amongst all Monsters players and he now leads the team with 28 points, while Plate had another solid outing as well, picking up three points of his own.
Maillard and Calle Hallberg each collected two points in the loss for Ontario, who were never able to play their style of game.
Piquette went perfect on the weekend for Fresno, taking the win in net while stopping 23 of 25 and Chris Skeates got the start and loss in net for Ontario, allowing five goals on 40 shots.
Ontario doesn’t have a ton of firepower up front, so they have to rely on their schemes, defense and goaltending to suffocate teams and Fresno found ways around it this weekend.
They still have more than enough skill to compete with anyone but they can’t make mistakes and need to start getting better goaltending, which will happen when Mitchell Privett returns from injury.
Chris Shaw will certainly have his team ready to play this weekend, when they take to the ice for a home-and-home set with the Valencia Flyers.
Fresno has gotten off to great starts before but this is their most complete team in a long time.
They aren’t perfect but they do a lot of things well, including making the most of their chances, keeping shots to the outside and getting the timely saves in net.
They don’t rely on scoring seven or eight goals like they did in years past but they play hard, they finish their checks and they hold on to the puck, which reminds me a lot of a certain team that has won three straight Thorne Cup Titles.
The Monsters now return home for their next nine games, which begin this weekend with a set against the San Diego Gulls.
Southern Oregon Spartans (0-6-1, 6th in Northwest Division) @ Seattle Totems (5-7-0, T-3rd in Northwest Division)
Two-game series in Mountlake Terrace, Washington
The Seattle Totems and Southern Oregon Spartans renewed their rivalry this weekend, as they met for two in Washington.
Although both teams looks vastly different than they have in years past, especially Southern Oregon, who have overhauled both their coaching staff and roster, both games had plenty of intensity and didn’t lack any action.
Game one of the series had a little bit of everything, shots, hits, penalty minutes and a ton of goals.
In total, the two teams combined for 69 penalty minutes, 84 shots on goal and 14 goals, six of which were scored on the power play.
When the dust had settled, the short-benched Totems had taken the 8-6 win, behind 15 total points from their top forward line of Frank Flight, Nikolai Mamadzhanov and Eric Danna. Flight and Mamadzhanov each collected six points in the victory, while Danna added three.
Seattle was able to get out to a 2-0 lead and never looked back in the win, although Southern Oregon, who showed a great amount of depth led by forward Jason Henry and his three points, kept it close throughout.
Bryce Fink, Seattle’s rock in between the pipes over the last two seasons, stopped 43 of 49 in the win, including a number of point blank chances, while Ian Dvorak took the loss for Southern Oregon, allowing seven goals on 34 shots.
Mike Murphy’s top line was at it again the next night, combining for another seven points as the Totems won 5-4 in a shootout.
Mamadzhanov notched a hat-trick, while Danna and Flight each added a pair of points to help the Totems come from behind, with Surgey Kuznetsov providing the only goal from either side in the shootout.
Veteran forward Taylor MacConnell had his best game of the season for the Spartans, picking up a goal and two assists but they couldn’t find a way to beat Fink in the shootout and remain winless on the season.
The Spartans played two very solid hockey games but struggled to slow down Seattle’s top line and were stoned by Fink more times than not.
They are not even nearly as bad as their record indicates and once they get a few wins under their belt, I believe they’re going to take off.
They’ll be looking for that elusive first win this weekend when they head south for three with the Lake Tahoe Blue.
Seattle has to be feeling good about their efforts against a team that always plays them tough and if their high-powered top line can keep firing away, they’ll be able to contend, especially if they find some scoring depth.
They’ll have this weekend off before coming right back the following weekend with two in Medford against the same Spartans, who will certainly be seeking revenge.
Ogden Mustangs (10-2-0, 1st in Northwest Division) @ Salt Lake City Moose (5-2-0, T-3rd in Northwest Division)
Single game played Friday in West Valley City, Utah
The rivalry between the Ogden Mustangs and Salt Lake City Moose has really heated up this season, as both teams are true contenders in the Northwest Division and neither has backed down an inch.
On Friday, they lined it up in Moose country and for the second time this season, the Mustangs came out on top, winning by a score of 3-2 in a tight one.
The two teams went blow for blow through the first two periods, with Ogden twice taking a lead on goals by veteran forwards Schuyler Seyfert and Sean Haltam, only to have the Moose respond with markers from Tyler Keturi and Cole Corson to knot it up at two after 40 minutes of play.
Only one goal was scored in the third period and it came off the stick of forward Seth Giles, who lifted Ogden to victory while on the power play.
Tyler Fallica, looking 100% after returning from injury, stopped 30 of 32 in the victory for the Mustangs, while Brad Robertson made his debut in net for the Moose and took the loss, allowing three goals on 26 shots.
It was not just how close the game was but the overall style and flow shows how good these two teams are and how far they’ve both come.
The Moose once again proved they can skate with anyone and will get another chance this weekend, as they host the Mustangs on both Friday and Saturday night.
Ogden Mustangs @ Idaho Jr. Steelheads (9-0-0, 2nd in Northwest Division)
Single game played Sunday in McCall, Idaho
The Mustangs took Saturday off before heading up to the mountains on Idaho, for a single game against the Idaho Jr. Steelheads on Sunday.
The upstart Stangs’ did their best to take down the perennial champs but Idaho was just too good on home ice, suffocating the Ogden offense and holding them to just 18 shots in a 6-2 win.
Jimmy Peplinski’s goal, scored just 4:15 into regulation, gave Ogden the early lead but it only seemed to awake the Jr. Steelheads, who really carried play from that moment on and notched six straight goals to take total control of the game.
Veteran forward Kirk Van Arkel led the way with four assists, while Jan Blasko and Hunter Lester each collected two goals in the Jr. Steelheads win.
In net, Sean Healy remained perfect on the season for Idaho, stopping 16 of 18, while Fallica allowed six goals on 35 shots in net for Ogden in the loss.
Ogden has a lot to feel good about but Idaho showed them who the team to beat in the Northwest Division is, with a classic Jr. Steelheads style game, predicated on puck possession and control.
The Mustangs are still going to give them a run for their money as the season goes along but have some things to work on before they can knock them off their pedestal.
They’ll look to get back to their winning ways with a two-gamer against Salt Lake City this weekend.
Idaho takes a very business-like approach to the way they play the game. They’re not flashy and they don’t have to tell you about it but they just play terrific hockey, make few mistakes and capitalize on seemingly every turnover.
They’ll have to be on top of their game this weekend, as they head to Boulder for three with the Bison, a team that always seems to play them tough.
Hockey Wolf Three Stars of the Week
1. Shane Bonds (Forward, Dallas Snipers)- The Dallas Snipers are quietly off to the best start in franchise history and the recent hot play of their large contingent of veteran players has been a big part of their success. Shane Bonds has been the go-to guy so far this year and after collecting five goals and four assists in a weekend sweep of the Wichita Jr. Thunder, the third-year forward now leads the team with 22 points on the season.
2. Frank Flight (Forward, Seattle Totems)- Without a lot of veterans on the roster, the Seattle Totems have sputtered offensively early in the season. This weekend, they broke out in a big way in two wins over the Southern Oregon Spartans. Mike Murphy’s top forward line led the charge with 22 combined points in the two Seattle victories, with the lone veteran on the line, Frank Flight, leading the trio with eight points.
3. Filip Martinec (Forward, Long Beach Bombers)- The Long Beach Bombers haven’t had a problem scoring goals early in the season and second-year forward Filip Martinec has once again been their go-to guy. The native of the Czech Republic picked up ten more points in a series victory over the Lake Tahoe Blue this weekend and now leads the league with 29 points.
Honorable Mentions: Zach Lawson (Dallas Snipers), Emil Melin (Dallas Snipers), Jake Larson (Goaltender, Wichita Jr. Thunder), Cole Rose (Texas Brahmas), Landyn Howze (Texas Brahmas) Eric Messer (Tulsa Jr. Oilers), Derek Smith (Tulsa Jr. Oilers), Aidan Doughty (Boulder Bison), Matt Hefter (Boulder Bison) Hunter Behrens (Boulder Bison), Jon Groth (New Mexico Renegades), Jordan Cullum (Phoenix Knights), Robert Smith (Phoenix Knights), Troy Anderson (Phoenix Knights), Jacob Eisenstat (Cheyenne Stampede), Jimmie Kotilainen (Cheyenne Stampede), Tom Bartel (El Paso Rhinos), Adam Vay (El Paso Rhinos), Matthew Plesa (El Paso Rhinos), Kalvis Ozols (San Diego Gulls), Mark Birchall (San Diego Gulls), Tomas Nemeth (Long Beach Bombers), Konstantin Kotkov (Long Beach Bombers), Marcus Viitanen (Long Beach Bombers), Miguel Caron (Lake Tahoe Blue), Martin Vachal (Lake Tahoe Blue), Kyle Blondin (Lake Tahoe Blue), Mike Nolan (Fresno Monsters), Evan Ingram (Fresno Monsters), Justin Plate (Fresno Monsters), Austin Piquette (Fresno Monsters), Joe Cangelosi (Ontario Avalanche), Eric Danna (Seattle Totems), Nikita Mamadzhanov (Seattle Totems), Bryce Fink (Seattle Totems), Taylor MacConnell (Southern Oregon Spartans), Schuyler Seyfert (Ogden Mustangs), Kirk Van Arkel (Idaho Jr. Steelheads)