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#DineenCupPlayoffs: Ogden Mustangs vs. Utah Outliers

Mountain Division Championships 

Ogden Mustangs (1) vs. Utah Outliers (2) 

All Times MST 

Friday, April 12, 7:15 p.m., The Ice Sheet (Ogden) 

Saturday, April 13, 7:15 p.m. The Ice Sheet (Ogden)

Tuesday, April 16, 7:45 p.m. Accord Ice Arena (West Valley City)

Friday, April 19, 7:05 p.m. Accord Ice Arena (West Valley City)*

Sunday, April 21, 1:30 p.m. The Ice Sheet (Ogden)*

* = If Necessary 

 

By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com 

 

It’s been a marathon – or most of one so far – of 53 regular season games and four more playoff games for each of the Ogden Mustangs and Utah Outliers. Now, they’ll have anywhere from three to five games to decide which team will be the first-ever Dineen Cup finals representatives from the Mountain Division and head east for the opportunity to play for the Cup itself.  

“We are excited about the challenge of facing Ogden. They have a good team and we’ve had many intense battles with them this season,” said Utah Head Coach Paul Taylor. “I know our guys are excited to play for another Mountain Division Championship and the opportunity to go out east and play for the Dineen Cup. I expect it will be an intense and fun series.”

The Outliers went 36-13-2-2 on the year, and tussled with the Mustangs all year for the No. 1 overall spot, both spending plenty of days and weeks at the top. But it was Ogden that pulled ahead in the end, with a 37-12-3-1 for 78 points, just ahead of the 76 for Utah.  

“There is a lot on the line for both clubs now. This is the rivalry that everyone marks on their calendar when looking at the Mountain Division. Our group is excited to get this series going and we look forward to the challenge, knowing what opportunity lies ahead afterwards,” added Ogden Head Coach Kenny Orlando. “It’s guaranteed that you will see urgency and a heightened level of play from both programs.”

Ogden put up a 3-1 series victory against the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, but it could’ve turned out very differently. Up in Idaho, an untimely miscue with the puck in front of their own net cost the Mustangs a sweep, as Idaho Falls came away with the Game 3 OT win. The regular season Mountain champions made sure to close it out in Game 4, as the Mustangs’ Brody Simko gave Ogden the OT win with his sixth of the postseason. 

“The series with Idaho Falls was back and forth with slim quality chances for both teams. Where we created an edge was the net front on their goaltender,” said Orlando. “Touching pucks first on second and third opportunities helped give us the advantage in a couple of those games, ultimately leading to the series win.”

On March 29, the Provo Predators put a 6-2 win on the Utah Outliers, giving notice that the Outliers would have to definitely scratch and claw to get out of this series. After a 4-2 win in Game 2, the Outliers just eked out a 5-3 victory after originally leading 5-0 in Game 3. Philip Rondina made 36 saves for a series-clinching 2-0 shutout victory on April 5. 

“The series with Provo was hard-fought and I thought we got better as the series progressed. We were caught off guard in Game 1 as we got off to a slow start but I felt we rebounded well from that point forward,” Orlando said. “It was a good lesson for our team that you must be ready every night and I thought some early adversity in the series was good for our group.”

The Outliers feel like they fixed a lot of the issues that might have led to further L’s following Game 1, so they certainly feel ready for the challenge of facing Ogden. The Outliers went 7-4-0-0 this year against Ogden (whose series record was 4-6-1-0) 

“I don’t have many areas of concern with our game at the moment. I believe we just need to find our rhythm in this next series and play to our capabilities,” said Taylor. “Our players know their roles and what they can bring to the table so now they have to go out on the ice and execute to their abilities.”

Orlando could think of a few places in which the Mustangs need to be better if they hope to make the trip to face either the New England Champion South Shore Kings or Atlantic Champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in the Dineen Cup Finals. 

“Simplifying puck play is something we need to continue to improve on going into this next series. Both on exits from our own zone and entries into our opponents’ zone,” Taylor said. “There have been times where we get caught doing too much and it results in pucks on our own net very quickly afterwards. If that area of focus is sharper, we become much harder to play against.”

Knowing full well that Utah captured the season series, even if Ogden took the title, Orlando and the Mustangs were working hard to be ready for their historic rivals. The two franchises have been battling for Salt Lake regional dominance since 2012, well before joining the USPHL in 2020 and the NCDC in this 2023-24 season. 

“Utah is a disciplined and defensive team. They play tight at their own blue line and around their net, striving to compress opponents into dead areas of ice,” said Orlando. “Offensively, they are opportunistic and move the puck well. We always have competitive battles, making for a stellar championship series if you are a fan within the Mountain Division.”

“I think Ogden is a well-balanced team,” Taylor added. “They have some dangerous forwards, capable defensemen, and strong goaltending. They can beat you in different ways so I see that as a strength of theirs and we’re going to have to be ready to handle various situations as they arise.” 

 

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