by Scott Harrington

 WSHL standings are expressed W-L-OTW-OTL (“W” and “L” represent regulation wins and losses; shootouts are included in overtime results).  Three points are awarded for a regulation win, two for an overtime win and one for an overtime loss.

 CASPER BOBCATS (9-18-0-0, 27 pts)


 Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

The Casper Bobcats were swept last week in Utah by a very competitive second-place Outliers club, and now they come home to host the first-place Ogden Mustangs who are tearing their way through the WSHL with just one regulation loss through their first 31 games of the season.

Luckily for the Bobcats the team directly behind them in the Mountain Division standings, the Steamboat Wranglers, had to play at Ogden last week.  Needless to say they did not pick up any ground on Casper, and the six-point lead the Bobcats built by winning five of their last six games before Christmas still stands.

Denis Matic scored in each of the three games at Utah and now has six goals in 12 games with Casper (6-2-8).  He also had a two-goal game in a 4-1 win over the Cold Lake Wings at the Western States Shootout.  Three of his six goals – including two last weekend – were scored on the power play.

Matic, 20, has represented Croatia four times in international play – three times at the U18 level and then at last year’s U20 World Championships.  Matic scored a goal and added a pair of assists for three points in five games at the event.  Croatia competes in the third tier of international hockey.

 CHEYENNE STAMPEDE (3-25-2-2, 15 pts)


With the Western States Shootout and a two-week holiday hiatus behind them, the Cheyenne Stampede have begun the second half of their Western States Hockey League schedule.

The Stamps played three overtime games in six games prior to the holiday break, winning two of them.

They returned to the ice last week, playing three games on the road against the Dallas Snipers.  Despite suffering bookend losses, Cheyenne won on Saturday.

Bryan Watters scored twice and Jonathan Terwisscha stood tall between the pipes for the Stampede in a 4-2 win.

Terwisscha stopped 27 of 29 shots as the Snipers stormed the net until Kody Kifer could seal the win with an empty-net goal with :03 left on the clock.

Watters’ first goal broke the ice mid-way through the first period. 

Cheyenne’s leading scorer dented the twine again with 4:14 left in the second period, restoring the lead for Cheyenne after Dallas rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie.

Stampede will play 13 of their next 16 games in the friendly confines of the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center – including 10 straight home games in February – but face a stiff test this weekend with the Utah Outliers coming to town.

The focus for the Stampede as the second half begins is to catch up to the team directly in front of them in the Mountain Division standings – the Steamboat Wranglers who are six points up on Cheyenne. 

 OGDEN MUSTANGS (29-1-0-1, 88 pts)


The Ogden Mustangs are having a season for the record books with just one regulation loss through their first 31 games.  Ogden’s .946 points percentage would equate to roughly 145 points by the end of the 51-game regular season under the new 3-point system.

The El Paso Rhinos collected 99 of a possible 102 points (.971) last year under the standard 2-point system.  They won 49 of 51 games with one of their two losses coming in overtime.

In the last 10 years, Idaho is the only other WSHL team to go through a full regular season schedule with only one regulation loss.  The Jr. Steelheads were 44-1-1 (.967) in 2012-13.

20-year old netminder Owen Zdunski played in the NAHL this season with Chippewa and Janesville in addition to nine games with the Mustangs.  He has become the latest player to use the WSHL as a springboard to college hockey, joining the NCAA Division III team at SUNY-Cortland for the second semester.

Speaking of Ogden netminders, Artur Ogandzhanyan has rejoined the team after competing in the IIHF U20 world championships (second tier) with Ukraine.  He posted a 3.37 goals-against average and .906 save percentage at the event, which was held in Poland.

Ogandzhanyan sparkled at the Western States Shootout before departing for the tournament.  He started three games in three days, shutting out the Fresno Monsters, and backstopping the Mustangs to wins over division leaders El Paso and Edson.

Ogden plays a three-in-three against the Bobcats in Casper this weekend.

STEAMBOAT WRANGLERS (6-26-1-1, 21 pts)


A trip to Ogden to face the league-leading Mustangs was a tough draw coming off a two-week holiday break but the Steamboat Wranglers, who were out-scored 30-3 in Ogden, will finally get back on home ice next week with three games against the Dallas Snipers this weekend. 

Steamboat has not played a game in their barn since a 7-5 win over the Cheyenne Stampede on November 18 and have now lost six in a row after earning seven of a possible nine points in a three-game series at Cheyenne December 14-16.

Dalton Eagle Bear had an eight-game point streak snapped Sunday at Ogden.  Eagle Bear produced 12 points (6-6-12) during the streak and is now tied for the team lead with 12 goals.

Steamboat will host Dallas, then take a week off before the Casper Bobcats come to town for a pair of games January 25-26.

Jordan Belley made 66 saves in a 5-2 loss on Saturday and has now made 732 saves on the season – second only to Cheyenne’s Brendan Carew, who has an even 800.

UTAH OUTLIERS (21-11-1-1, 66 pts)


The Utah Outliers did not look rusty in Casper last weekend, sweeping the Bobcats with a pretty solid effort.  The visiting Bobcats hung around for the first two periods of Sunday’s game but, other than that, Utah was in control.

Benji Mickel scored five times in the three games – including a hat trick in the 5-3 Sunday’s comeback win over the Bobcats.  He now has points in five of his last six games, with 11 points (6-5-11) in that span.  Prior to his hot stretch, he had 15 points (6-9-15) in the first 28 games of the season.

Mickel’s 26 points this season match his output for the entire 2017-18 campaign over 48 games with Utah (11-15-26). 

Matt Bartel also had a big series in Casper, picking up multiple points in each game.  He has multi-point efforts in five of his last six games, collecting 13 points (6-7-13) in that span, and currently leads the team in goals (21) and points (46).

Bartel played four games with the Junior A Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) earlier this season.  The 20-year-old Florida native played the last two seasons with the Kings.

The Outliers play three at Cheyenne this weekend, then a single game at Ogden next Saturday.  The Outliers will then have a 12-day break before they host the Mustangs for a pair February 1-2.

--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media