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#DineenCupPlayoffs Preview: Utah Outliers vs. Provo Predators 

By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com 

 

Mountain Division

Utah Outliers (2) vs. Provo Predators (3) 

Best of Five

All Times MST

Friday, March 29, 7:05 p.m. at Outliers

Saturday, March 30, 6:35 p.m. at Outliers

Wednesday, April 3, 6:30 p.m. at Predators

Wednesday, April 5, 7:30 p.m. at Predators*

Saturday, April 6, 6:35 p.m. at Outliers*

* = If Necessary 

 

There’s just under an hour between the home arenas of the Utah Outliers and Provo Predators, but in terms of their rivalry, the organizations are a world apart. Both hope to advance past this Mountain Division semifinal series and ultimately represent the Mountain in the Dineen Cup Finals in late April. 

Of course, in order to do that, each of these two rivals has to get past the other, which would mean someone’s season is coming to an end no later than April 6. 

“Our guys are excited to begin playoffs and take on the Predators in Round 1,” said the Outliers Head Coach Paul Taylor. “We’ve had some hard-fought games with them during the regular season and we expect that to continue as we head into the postseason.”

Utah, which went 36-13-2-2, finished second in the Mountain Division by just two points. The Predators finished at 28-19-1-5, 14 points behind Utah but still eight points above what ended up as a tight race for the fourth place spot. 

“Provo is a hard-working team and they had some big wins down the stretch so we will make sure we are ready for them. I believe our group is highly motivated and eager to get playoffs started,” added Taylor. 

In the regular season series, Utah was a dominant factor in going 8-1-0-1, versus the Predators’ series record of 2-7-0-1. It was a series of extremes, as three games were one-goal games and six other games were decided by three goals or more. 

Both teams have some good offensive weapons coming into the series. Garrett Joss finished fourth in league scoring with 61 points in 53 games. Makar Klochkov was second with 53 points in 44 games, while defenseman Matteo Mitrovic – a late January pickup in a trade from the Idaho Falls Spud Kings – finished with 37 points in 51 games, good for a spot in the league’s top 10 highest scoring defensemen. 

In net, Philip Rondina went 21-7-1-0 and was a top five goaltender in goals against average (2.32, fifth) and a top 10 goaltender in save percentage (.926). 

On the other side of the ice, Provo’s Michael Polston was also very impressive in his regular season performance of 19-8-1-3 and both Polston and Rondina were tied – along with two others – at a .926 save percentage for a top 10 spot. Polston put up a 2.62 GAA, as well, also good for the season-ending Top 10. 

Scoring-wise, Lucca Ori led the Predators with 38 points in playing all 53 games, while Ryan Roethke put up 36 points in 42 games. Defenseman Jackson Lucia was right behind Roethke at 35 points. 

The teams have to put all of the regular season behind them, though, now. Everyone is at zeros, including the record at 0-0. 

“We had some good practices this week and tweaked a few things systematically that should help us with this matchup,” said Taylor. “I expect our team to bring their A-game and rise to the occasion when it matters most.” 

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