WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 10.24.17 – MOUNTAIN DIVISION
CASPER COYOTES (3-5-0, 6pts)
The Casper Coyotes fell to their Mountain Division rivals, the Utah Outliers, three times last weekend to fall two games below .500 on the year.
Stepan Kudma managed the only Casper goal of the weekend in Saturday’s game, scoring his first goal of the year in the second period of a 6-1 loss.
The Coyotes were outshot 164-61 in getting swept by the Outliers, but played Utah tough in the early going of the series, keeping the score to 1-0 going into the third period of Friday’s game.
Casper will have a chance for redemption in two weeks when they visit Utah.
It was a poor showing for the Coyotes, but they’re being led by rookies Bradley Green (6-2-8) and Romaeo D’Intino (3-5-8) along with former Southern Oregon Spartans Cameron Cross (2-6-8) and Jacob Elik (1-6-7).
Cross and Elik combined for 63 points last season for the Spartans.
It’s a team of new faces in Casper, and once they get to know each other, they could be set to surprise a few teams in the Mountain Division.
This weekend, Casper visits Idaho to take on the Northwest Division IceCats.
You can check out Casper’s special breast cancer awareness jerseys on their Instagram, @caspercoyotesofficial.
CHEYENNE STAMPEDE (2-10-0, 4 pts)
The tough sledding continues for the Cheyenne Stampede continues following a pair of losses at the hands of a tough Colorado team. Managing three goals in the two games, the Stampede were led by Alec Sara’s goal and assist line and Hakan Salt’s pair of helpers over the weekend.
Rookie Damon Theara is Cheyenne’s top point-producer with seven (1-6) and rookie Yevgeni Bastrakov leads Cheyenne with five goals.
The Stamps have been sticking to their guns this season, undermanned as they are, and still continued to put pucks on the net against the Jr. Eagles with 23 shots on Sunday.
Cheyenne may be a little sick of playing Colorado this season, as they are now 0-4 against the Jr. Eagles. The good news is they have a bye this week to get to work and try and turn things around. The bad news is…when they come back it’s Colorado on the schedule.
The team’s schedule doesn’t get much easier after that, so this bye week is the time for the Stamps to rest up, get some solid practices in, and get things going in the right direction.
COLORADO EAGLES (10-1-2, 22pts)
The Colorado Jr. Eagles are tied for first place in the Mountain Division with rival Ogden, and are one of only three teams in the WSHL with only one loss in at least 10 games played.
Their two-game sweep of Cheyenne over the weekend gave them four straight wins against their Mountain Division counterparts the Stampede, and their 19 goals marked the Jr. Eagles’ best two-game output so far this season.
Nine Colorado skaters scored multiple points Friday against Cheyenne led by Darrean White’s 1-3-4 line. Veteran goalie Braden Lajoie made 15 saves in the win.
Five Jr. Eagles scored a 1-2-3 line on Saturday and Lajoie continued to be one of the better goalies in the league, making 22 saves for his seventh win on the year.
WSHL Veterans Carter Dahl (10-9-19) and Vincent Mastrandrea (7-10-17) are doing their thing much like last season, leading the team on the ice. But, with newcomers like David Mitchell (6-11-17) and Sean McMahon (5-11-16) joining the fray, the Jr. Eagles could be flying high all season.
This weekend should be a good test for Colorado as they face off with the Mid-Western Division Springfield Express, a team they needed OT to get two wins against earlier this month.
Is Colorado ready to get their claws into the top of the division? This weekend series will go a long way to showing they are.
OGDEN MUSTANGS (11-3-0, 22pts)
The Ogden Mustangs imposed their will on the Northwest Division’s Southern Oregon last weekend, winning all three games by a total score of 25-4.
Ogden boasts four of the league’s top nine scorers led by the WSHL’s top three point producers: Matus Spodniak (22-26-48), Jacob Lauren (12-27-39), and Ross Bartlett (17-21-38). That trio is all on pace for a 160+ point seasons – which likely won’t happen, but the team is certainly firing on all cylinders offensively with 15 skaters currently scoring in double-digits just 14 games into the season.
Coach Jake Laime knows his team still has work to do on the defensive side.
“Offensively we have shown the ability to be dangerous at times,” Laime said. “But our defensive play has limited us. In two of our three losses, we dug ourselves a hole, were able to climb ourselves out, but ultimately fell short with another lapse on the defensive side. All three were by a single goal being scored in the final minutes.”
Ogden faces off with Mountain Division rivals Utah this weekend, a team looking to make some noise in the early going of the season. Then, the Mustangs host the Lake Tahoe Icemen who lead the Northwest Division.
Coach Laime said they have a ways to go, but that their best hockey is ahead of them.
I expect us to compete,” he added. “Goals for and goals against don’t mean anything unless they’re done the right way. Our emphasis is to tighten up and play 60 minutes of good hockey... something we haven’t yet done.”
SUPERIOR ROUGHRIDERS (7-6-0, 14pts)
The Superior RoughRiders have been playing well to start the season, but took three tough losses last weekend at the hands of the Mid-Western Division’s Oklahoma City Blazers.
The RoughRiders were outscored, 15-4, in getting losing their first series of the season.
With 102 PIMs between the two teams in the three-game set, there was some bad blood between two squads who won’t play each other again this season.
Nikita Sheberov managed just two goals over the weekend, bringing his season line to 20-14-34, good for fourth in the league making the Mountain Division owner of the league’s top four spots in the WSHL scoring race.
The RoughRiders are running with new guns like Sheberov, Thore Weyrauch (10-14-24), and Chase Taleghani (2-11-13) and Minnesota-native goaltenders Marshall Murphy and Manny Hertel-Bauman. The team is sticking strong in the early going, so once the new guys get going, they could be a team to reckon with as the season continues.
Superior takes on the Western Division’s last-place Phoenix Knights before facing off against the Mid-Western Division-leading El Paso the following week.
We’ll have a better idea on who the RoughRiders are after the next six games.
UTAH OUTLIERS (8-3-0, 16pts)
Five different Utah skaters scored in Friday’s 5-0 shutout of Mountain Division rival Casper, and Jacob Wanstrom assisted on three of the goals.
Saturday saw five Outliers score multiple points, and things blew up on Sunday when Utah appeared to wear the Coyotes down, exploding for 12 goals led by rookie Roman Svik’s 4-2-6 line in the third game of the series.
Head Coach Paul Taylor knows his roster depth is behind his team’s strong start.
“We are getting a lot of contributions throughout the roster from our forwards, defenseman and goalies,” Taylor said. “Every game it seems we have different players leading us.”
To his point, Defenseman Zack Hoffman scored a 4-4-8 line against Casper, and now leads the team with 8-15-23 in his first 10 games in the league.
Last season, Utah began slow and then spent the middle of the season as one of the WSHL’s best teams, and Taylor spoke earlier in the year about starting strong.
And strong they are.
The Outliers sport seven players in double-digit points, their goalies Dawson Rodin & Otto Saxin combined for 60 saves against Casper, and the team is allowing just two goals per game.
Those are the kinds of stats that say this team may be here to stay.
“I think we have a good character group to keep things going,” coach Taylor added. “The team seems to be gelling well off the ice and it is translating to strong on-ice performances.”
Utah goes home-and-home against in-state rivals Ogden this weekend with a chance to make up some ground on the first-place Mustangs.
--- Tyler Whidden for Harrington Sports Media