WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 01.31.19 – MOUNTAIN DIVISION
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 (12-22-1-0, 38 pts)
The Casper Bobcats were hoping to put the Steamboat Wranglers firmly in their rearview mirror last weekend, but managed just a split of their two game-series in Colorado. Actually, with Casper’s win coming in overtime, the Wranglers closed ground on the Bobcats by two points.
With a 10-point lead and four games in hand, Casper is still very much in the driver’s seat but, with a return engagement in Steamboat February 8-9, the Bobcats would love nothing more than to take some points out of their two games at Greely Ice Haus this weekend against the Northern Colorado Eagles.
Blue liner Ryan Radtke has responded quite well to the increased playing time since joining the Bobcats from the El Paso Rhinos. Radtke, a 20-year-old from Cave Creek, AZ, has 11 points (3-8-11) in eight games with Casper after producing just 0-4-4 in 23 games with the defending champs.
Radtke has been effective on special teams, collecting four (1-3-4) of his 11 points in the power play and another pair of assists playing shorthanded.
Another Arizona native, Henry Deenee (Chandler), has been effective in limited action this season. He boasts a 5-2-0 record with a respectable .903 save percentage. He stopped 54 of 56 shots over his last two starts – both wins – that actually give him a team-high five wins on the season.
CHEYENNE STAMPEDE (3-31-2-2, 15 pts)
The Cheyenne Stampede had an opportunity two weeks ago to get back into the thick of things in the race for seeding in the Mountain Division, but it slipped through their fingers with three losses – including a pair by one goal – in Casper.
The Stampede get another crack this week, however. Actually, they get two cracks at Steamboat as the Wranglers will be in Wyoming on Saturday and Sunday, following the Northern Colorado Eagles who drop in for a single game against the Stamps Friday night.
The Stampede had a week off to rest up for a final push, and reflect on a pair of 3-2 losses in Casper that very easily could have gone the other way.
This is a big weekend at Cheyenne Ice and Events Center, as the Stampede host their annual Cancer Awareness Series, which is always a big weekend for the team and includes auctioning off their special game-worn jerseys.
OGDEN MUSTANGS (36-1-0-1, 109 pts)
Concluding a stretch that will see them play eight of nine games away from home, the Ogden Mustangs will play the Utah Outliers in West Valley City in a match-up of the WSHL’s most dominant team and their nearest competition within the Mountain Division.
The Mustangs, who have lost just one game in regulation all season, have built a comfortable 34-point lead over the Outliers.
The series also kicks off a challenging seven-game stretch for Ogden: two games at Utah, a three-game visit from the Long Beach Bombers, then a home-and-home set with the Outliers.
The four upcoming games against their closest challengers in the division presents an opportunity to assert their dominance, but also gives Utah a chance to probe the Mustangs for weaknesses in advance of what could very well be a meeting in a best-of-three Mountain Division Final in late March.
There is a lot of hockey to be played between then and now, but the Mustangs know they will be in the mix for the Thorne Cup Final as they are assured a spot as this year’s host team.
STEAMBOAT WRANGLERS (8-28-1-2, 28 pts)
A strong showing against Casper last week – taking four of six points from the Bobcats – should give the Steamboat Wranglers some jump as they make a push for third place in the Mountain Division. If they can pick up some points in Cheyenne this weekend and close the gap even further, then that will make things even more interesting when the Bobcats come back to Colorado for two more games February 8-9.
Steamboat has seven players now with between 10-13 goals. 20-year old forward Dalton Eagle Bear is one of the players tied for the team lead in goals.
Eagle Bear played with the Kainai Braves in the little-known Ranchland Hockey League last season as a 19-year-old. The RHL is a senior hockey league in Alberta. Eagles Bear put up 27 points (9-18-27) in 14 games against much older competition that included former major junior and professional players.
Returning to junior hockey for the final year of eligibility, and landing in Colorado with the Wranglers, Eagle Bear has scored 26 points (13-13-26) in 35 games played and enjoyed an eight-game points streak from December 9 – January 5.
UTAH OUTLIERS (24-12-1-1, 75 pts)
The Utah Outliers have four more opportunities to poke and prod the Ogden Mustangs for weaknesses before the playoffs – starting with a pair of games this weekend in what should be an exciting series.
Assuming Ogden wins their division semifinal series, if the Outliers can just reach the division final they will secure a spot in the six-team Thorne Cup tournament as the Mountain Division representatives. The Mustangs have an automatic berth as the tournament hosts.
The Outliers are the biggest team in the Western States Hockey League as they have the greatest average height (6’1”) and weight (189 pounds). All but five of the players on the current roster are six feet tall or more with Zak Albers the tallest at 6’5”.
Five Utah players are 200+ pounds led by 6’3”, 220-pound Swedish defenseman Philip Rodhe Magni.
The Outliers added an 18-year-old defenseman with two seasons of WSHL experience when Gabel Longshore joined the team two weeks ago for their series against Cheyenne.
Longshore played the previous two seasons with the Tahoe Icemen, scoring 12 goals and adding 14 assists for 26 points in 38 games last season. Longshore brought 74 games of WSHL experience with him to the Utah blue line.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media