WSHL Mountain Schedule Breakdown

by Ron White

Casper Coyotes

 

The new-look Casper Coyotes will start their season with nine straight games at Casper Ice Arena. Their first test on home ice comes against Superior on Sept. 29, who will look to rebound after finishing last in the Mountain Division in 2016-17. The Coyotes dominated the season series against the RoughRiders last year, winning 10 of the 12 games.

 

After three home series against Superior, Wichita and Utah, the Coyotes begin the road portion of the 2017-18 season on Oct. 27 against Idaho. The two teams met last season in early November with the IceCats taking two of three games and five out of six points against the Coyotes.

 

After the Western States Shootout, the Coyotes open the second half with 12 consecutive games against the Ogden Mustangs and the Colorado Jr. Eagles. Last year, Ogden and Colorado met in the Mountain Division Final and both teams made it to the Thorne Cup Finals tournament. This stretch will be a good measuring stick for Casper to see how it fares against two tough divisional foes.

 

Casper will have two big out-of-division tests in October, hosting the defending Thorne Cup champion Wichita Jr. Thunder Oct. 13-15 and travelling to McCall to battle the IceCats Oct. 27-29. The Coyotes wrap up the season March 2-4 in Tulsa against the Oilers, which could determine seeding for both squads in their respective six-team divisions.

 

Cheyenne Stampede

 

The Stampede begin their 2017-18 campaign on Sept. 22 at home against Superior as part of a home-and-home. Cheyenne finished just one point ahead of the RoughRiders in the 2016-17 regular season. Cheyenne did not have the same amount of success against Superior that their Wyoming brethren had, going 5-5-1 in 11 meetings last season. This will be one of six sets of home-and-home series on the Stampede schedule and the first of two such series to begin their year. Cheyenne follows up with a home-and-home against Colorado on September 29-30.

 

Cheyenne then travels to play Wichita (Oct. 6-8) and Ogden (Oct. 13-15) before coming home to play Colorado again (Oct. 20-21). Having to play the top two teams from the Mountain Division last year plus the defending Thorne Cup champs will be no easy task for Cheyenne. If they can pull through this stretch with some big wins, it will definitely boost their confidence going forward.

 

In addition to Wichita, Cheyenne’s non-divisional schedule also includes playing the Oklahoma City Blazers for the first time in two years, in a Veteran’s Day weekend tilt in Cheyenne. The Stampede close out their season against the Arizona Hawks at AZ Ice Peoria on Feb. 23-25, which finishes a stretch where Cheyenne plays eight of their final 12 games on the road.

 

Colorado Jr. Eagles

 

The top two teams from the Mountain Division last season will face off in Fort Collins to begin the 2017-2017 regular season on Sept. 22, as Colorado plays host to Ogden. The Eagles took two of three from the Mustangs to capture the Mountain Division banner in early April. However, Ogden ended Colorado’s Thorne Cup hopes with a 3-1 win over the Eagles on April 14 in the group stage of the Thorne Cup Finals.

 

The Eagles start their road schedule by heading to Cheyenne on Sept. 29 to take on the Stampede. Colorado took six of seven games against Cheyenne, including all four games in Wyoming. The Eagles are 6-0-1 at the Cheyenne Ice & Events Center over the last two seasons.

 

Colorado heads into the Western States Shootout with a stretch of seven of 11 games on the road. The Eagles dominated away from Fort Collins last season with a 22-5-0 record. If they can continue that success this year, Colorado could build up some momentum before the showcase.

 

Colorado’s non-divisional opponents feature three Mid-West Division squads, including a home matchup with El Paso (Nov. 17-19). The Eagles defeated the Rhinos 4-3 in last year’s Western States Shootout on Dec. 17. Colorado also hosts their lone opponent from the Pacific Division when the Phoenix Knights roll into Fort Collins the weekend before Halloween.

 

Ogden Mustangs

 

The Mustangs travel to Fort Collins to face the Eagles in their season opener on Sept. 22. Colorado and Ogden both start and finish their respective schedules against each other. The Eagles travel to Ogden on March 2-4 to conclude the regular season.

 

Ogden opens up their home schedule on Sept. 29 by facing their in-state rivals, the Utah Outliers. The Mustangs won four of six games against the Outliers last season, but both losses came at home. Ogden and Utah will play each other nine times this year, with seven of those matchups happening before the Western States Shootout.

 

The Mustangs finish their season with a trip to Idaho on Feb. 16-18 before coming home to play Colorado. Ogden played both teams in the Thorne Cup Finals tournament and won both games. This could be a pair of clashes between Thorne Cup contenders right before the postseason starts.

 

Ogden is one of two Mountain Division teams to play the same non-divisional opponent in two different series. In addition to their Presidents’ Day weekend showdown in McCall, the Mustangs host the IceCats on Dec. 1-3. Ogden also plays Southern Oregon on Oct. 20-22, one of three teams to defeat the Mustangs at last year’s showcase, and the Lake Tahoe Icemen on Nov. 3-5.

 

Superior RoughRiders

 

Superior starts its season with a home-and-home against Cheyenne on Sept. 22-23. The RoughRiders and Stampede play nine times this year, with eight of the meetings being home-and-home sets. The leftover game will also be in Cheyenne on Dec. 15. Superior’s home opener against Cheyenne kicks off a stretch where the RoughRiders play seven of 10 at the Sport Stable. Ogden and Dallas will also visit Superior during that run. The RoughRiders went 9-13-3 at home last season so improving their record in Superior will be crucial.

 

Following the Western States Showcase, the RoughRiders will be spending a lot of time away from Superior. Superior plays 11 of their first 14 games after the showcase on the road, although four of those will be within their home state as they play the Eagles. After this stretch, Superior gets their final six games at home against Casper (Feb. 23-25) and Utah (March 3-5).

 

Instead of their non-divisional games being spread throughout the season, the RoughRiders are playing all 12 of their scheduled games against the Mid-West Division consecutively between Oct. 13-Nov. 5. Superior travels to play the Mid-West’s top two teams from last year in Oklahoma City (Oct. 20-22) and El Paso (Nov. 3-5). Meanwhile, Dallas comes to Superior to begin this out-of-division stretch while Springfield visits for the first time in two years on Oct. 27-29.

 

Utah Outliers

 

Utah’s first two games come on the road against the Ogden Mustangs on Sept. 29-30. The two teams have built a strong in-state rivalry starting back when the Outliers were the Salt Lake City Moose. With nine meetings on the schedule this season, look for another exciting chapter in the Utah-Ogden rivalry to come to life.

 

Utah’s home schedule starts outside of the Mountain Division as the Southern Oregon Spartans come to the Acord Ice Center on Oct. 13-15. The two teams have not seen each other since the 2015-16 Western States Shootout. The Outliers will make up for that long span between matchups with the Spartans as the two teams play six times this year.

 

Utah does not have an easy start to its season. They travel to play both Ogden and Colorado (Oct. 6-8) before coming home to play Southern Oregon, who finished second in the Northwest Division last season. The Outliers will get an early chance to show where they stack up against some of the league’s best teams from last season.

Utah’s schedule outside the Mountain Division sees them play Southern Oregon twice (Oct. 13-15 and Nov. 10-12), along with Lake Tahoe (Dec. 1-3) and Idaho (Feb. 9-11). The Outliers hosted Idaho for a series last season, dropping two of three to the IceCats. Utah played the Icemen at last year’s showcase and picked up a dominating 9-0 victory

 

Photo Courtesy of Marc Mauno