OGDEN — With the Western States Hockey League regular season winding down, the Ogden Mustangs got a big boost of confidence and a few much need points in the standings this weekend, winning 2 out of 3 games against the Cheyenne Stampede at The Ice Sheet.
“It was a great weekend of hockey for our team,” Mustangs coach Jake Laime said on Sunday. “We needed to get some wins and the guys stepped up; they really showed some heart.”
The Mustangs, who currently sit in third place in the Northwest Conference of the WSHL, gained 4 points with the two wins and now sit only 3 points behind the Southern Oregon Spartans for the coveted second spot in the conference.
Should the Mustangs overtake the Spartans, it would give them home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
The three-game series between the two rivals started with the Mustangs drawing first blood, winning Friday’s game in shootout 3-2. Mustang forwards Kody Rodriguez and Olle Vennstrom scored one goal each in regulation and Rodriguez along with Dusty Watt tallied the two lone shootout goals to give Game 1 to the ’Stangs.
Ogden goaltender Tyler Fallica also played well, stopping 39 of 41 shot faced in regulation and stopping all four Stampede attempts during the shootout.
Both teams came out strong yet again on Saturday night, trading goals early. At the end of the first period, both teams were deadlocked at two goals apiece. The second period saw more back-and-forth action with the Stampede gaining the edge and taking a 5-4 lead into the third period. The final period was dominated by the Stampede, who eventually won 8-5.
“I told the team to remember this loss,” said Laime. “I wanted them to remember how that loss felt and come back Sunday with some passion and fire. We are getting to the end of the season and it’s time for the guys to start responding to adversity.”
Respond they did.
The Mustangs came out strong Sunday, scoring the game’s first four goals. Watt notched another goal in series followed by forwards O’Mara, Eryn Siracusa and Sean Haltam.
At the end of two periods, the Mustangs held a commanding 4-0 lead. However, the Stampede would not go quietly. A late third period push saw the Mustangs lead dwindle and, with one minute remaining in the third period, the Stampede were able to close the gap to 4-3.
The Mustangs remained unflinched and with just 30 seconds remaining in the game, O’Mara notched his second tally of the game and sealed a Mustangs victory.
“I like the way the team responded,” Laime said. “Now we can look to our next opponent and take care of business there.”
The Mustangs will take to the road this week and visit the Seattle Jr. Totems for a three-games series starting Friday. They will then return home March 8 and 9 for their final home games of the regular season against the Idaho Jr. Steelheads.