OGDEN — The Ogden Mustangs wrapped up the 2012-13 season with a rough home stand, dropping a pair of games -- 7-2, 10-3 -- to the league-leading Idaho Junior Steelheads at the Weber County Ice Sheet on Friday and Saturday night.
Despite the losses, Ogden is now looking forward to its second postseason appearance as they travel to Medford, Ore., to face the Spartans this Friday at 8:30 p.m. (MDT) in a best-of-three series this weekend as they battle for the Western States Hockey League Thorne Cup.
Coach Jake Laime says he’s confident in his guys and has seen the improvements they’ve made since opening day in late September.
“Coming into the year we had 23 new faces,” he said. “It was a bit of an obstacle to get them to not only mesh with each other but to buy in to my coaching philosophy. As the year has progressed though, I think we’ve slowly but surely we’ve found ways to put it together. I would like to think that all my guys have improved here with me this year.”
Ogden finished the season with an 18-22-6 record and appeared poised to take the number two spot in the Northwest Conference. The Mustangs could only muster two wins in their last 12 games however, dropping them down to third in the division.
As a team boasting one of deepest benches in the WSHL, the drop was an obvious disappointment, but team captain Eryn Siracusa knows his team still has a legitimate shot at the Cup.
“I believe we can win the whole thing,” he said. “I feel like the locker room does too. If we can go to Southern Oregon and get those wins, the confidence will shoot up and give us the swagger we need to get to that next level.”
The Mustangs will continue to rely on their team-leading scorer Christian Kraus who nabbed two points over the weekend with a goal and assist, and leads the Mustangs with 40 total points on 20 goals and 20 assists.
Teammate Dusty Watt has also caught fire lately and is tied with Kraus at 20 goals on the season.
“We have to be disciplined,” Kraus said of the upcoming playoff games. “We have to not take the selfish penalties. We have very good individuals on this team, but we just need the discipline.”
The Mustangs and Spartans played six close games already this season with both teams winning three each — two at home and one on the road.
Ogden will need fresh faces to step up this weekend and they have a number of guys who have done so at different points this season. They’ll need to continue that trend if they hope to get past the Spartans.
Between the pipes, Laime is sticking with his starter Tyler Fallica for Friday’s opener in Medford. Fallica amassed a 12-13 record throughout the season, and while he has struggled as of late, still holds the keys as the team’s defensive anchor.
Laime says the only obstacle in front of the Mustangs and the Thorne Cup is overcoming the mental game and simply going out and playing Ogden hockey.
“When we win, we really embrace that feeling because we’re successful” he said. “Sometimes … we get away from that, we get flat, and we start doing things we should be doing. We have the tools, it’s just a matter of utilizing them.”