The Ogden Mustangs went on their first true road trip of the season Oct. 26-28 to face the Casper Bobcats in Casper, Wyoming. The Mustangs won all three matchups, keeping their perfect and Western-States-Hockey-League-leading record intact, now sitting at 12-0.
They have the expansion Steamboat Wranglers (2-9-1) coming to Ogden this weekend for three games and a good chance at moving to 15-0.
Ogden still has more work to do despite being pleased with a 12-0 start, head coach Jake Laime said, who often preaches about winning the right way.
"I wasn’t happy with the weekend overall," Laime said. "I thought our play was a reflection of a lazy week in practice. We disregarded all systems and unfortunately, we were rewarded for it. We want to learn how to win and lose the right way, regardless of who we play and regardless of the score. What I saw last weekend isn’t the team effort we need to achieve our ultimate goal."
While the Thorne Cup Finals are still 40-plus games away, Laime knows from experience that it takes concerted effort now and attention to even the littlest of details to lift that league championship trophy on home ice this season. It's why they've printed on the back of team issued T-shirts: "Details Build Dynasties."
In Casper, the Mustangs came away with 7-0, 8-1 and 6-2 victories. Counting the three matchups against the Bobcats in Ogden earlier this season, the Mustangs have outscored Casper by a 42-7 margin.
Ammon Anderson led the Mustangs in scoring over the weekend with four goals and five assists. He got to work quickly, scoring his first goal just 16 seconds into the first game of the weekend.
Newly-acquired goaltender Owen Zdunski got the start in goal in his first game with the team, stopping all 16 shots he faced for a shutout. He's the second Mustang goaltender this season and the second in Mustang in franchise history to record a shutout his his debut. Artur Ogandzhanyan was the other Ogden goalie to do it. He got the start in Game 2 this weekend and split the game with Alex Neverve. Zdunski played the duration of Game 3.
Other top scorers for the Mustangs last weekend included Anderson's linemate and WSHL leading scorer Rhett Rampinelli, who had three goals and five assists to put him at 28 total points this season. Kerry Kruzel had three goals and three assists. Lukas Vacin had two goals and four assists. Bryson Bartell had four goals and one assist. Shane Gilbert had one goal and three assists. Lukas Kucera had four assists.
The Mustangs sit in first place in the WSHL with 36 points. The Oklahoma City Blazers are second with 24 points at 8-1. The Bellingham Blazers are third with 21 points at 7-2.
Of the 23 WSHL teams, the only two still undefeated are the Mustangs and their Thorne Cup championship game foe from last season, the El Paso Rhinos. The Rhinos are 6-0 but head into a tough stretch with three games at Long Beach this weekend, then three against the Utah Outliers, then six in a row against the Northern Colorado Eagles, then three at Oklahoma City.
The Wranglers come into Ogden this weekend after a tough start to their first WSHL season, coming over from playing in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League last season. They have eight points in 12 games. They started the season with six straight losses to the Outliers, then they swept the Wichita Jr. Thunder at home . before being swept on the road in Dallas.
A sweep against the Wranglers would put the Mustangs at 15-0, just three wins away from the team's best start in franchise history, set two seasons ago when they began 18-0.
This weekend is Law Enforcement and Military Appreciation Weekend, with plenty of free tickets still available for those who serve our community. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2-3, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.