Both Utah Squads to Contend for Thorne Cup

by Charles Woodall-Pike

The 2017-18 WSHL is just a couple of weeks away and teams are making their final adjustments in hopes of making a run at the Thorne Cup. The Ogden Mustangs aim to take care of unfinished business from last year, where they came within two wins of the a championship. Not far away, the Utah Outliers look to make another move toward the WSHL’s ultimate prize. Here is some insight into the league’s two Utah-based clubs.

Ogden Mustangs

 

Last year, Ogden got off to an incredible start, winning their first 18 games and finishing first in the Mountain Division. In the Thorne Cup Finals, their quest for their first Thorne Cup in front of their hometown fans came to an end at the hands of the eventual champion Wichita Jr. Thunder. Now, head coach Jake Laime is back with a roster led by top returner Matus Spodniak and former Thunder forward Matt McClelland.

Early Series To Watch

Sept. 22-24 – Right out of the gate, the Mustangs travel to Fort Collins to play the Colorado Jr. Eagles. Ogden swept their lone regular season visit to Colorado and won four of six against the Eagles during the 2016-17 regular season.

Key Stat

42 – The Mustangs finished with 42 wins last season, setting a new team record for wins in a season. The total surpassed the 38 wins that Ogden had in 2015-16.

Utah Outliers

 

After being rebranded as the Utah Outliers last season, the former Salt Lake City Moose squad had a strong showing thanks to a great second half. The Outliers won 23 of their final 29 contests, including a perfect 4-0 run at the showcase that was part of a season-high 11-game winning streak. After bowing out in the Mountain Division semis to the Colorado Jr. Eagles, Utah and head coach Paul Taylor are looking to build on last season’s run and make the Thorne Cup Finals.

Early Series To Watch

Oct. 6-8 – Just like Ogden, the Outliers get an early test on the road in Colorado against the Eagles. Unlike the Mustangs, however, Utah went 0-4-2 against Colorado in the regular season last year. In addition, the Eagles swept the Outliers out of the 2017 Thorne Cup Playoffs.

Key Stat

64 – The Outliers accumulated 64 points last year, a 14-point improvement from their 2015-16 record. The 64 points also tied the team’s record for points in a season along with the 2013-14 Salt Lake City Moose.

Head-To-Head Matchups

Sept. 29-30 at Ogden, Oct. 27 at Ogden, Oct. 28 at Utah, Nov. 25 at Ogden, Dec. 8 at Ogden, Dec. 9 at Utah, Jan. 27 at Utah, Jan. 28 at Ogden

The Mustangs and Outliers will see each other nine times this season, with seven of those occurring prior to the Western States Shootout. Aside from the first two meetings at The Ice Sheet in Ogden and a single game over Thanksgiving weekend, Utah and Ogden will play home-and-home series for each of their weekend matchups.

 

Follow WSHL Mountain Division Insider Charles Woodall-Pike all season on Twitter (@CactusOnIce)

 

Photo Courtesy of Marc Mauno