Outliers hockey makes home in West ValleyNov 03, 2017 03:01PM ● By Greg James
Goalie Otto Saxin captured his first win of the season against the South Oregon Spartans 6-1. (Action Sports Photography)
Hockey players from around the world have joined forces at the Accord Ice Center in West Valley. The Utah Outliers began their third season in 2017 as a member of the Western States Hockey League.
“We are a tier two junior team. Many of our players will move on to play college hockey or they could get drafted (into the NHL), that is our goal. We want these kids to move to the next level. We want to be a part of their process,” Outliers Director of Player Development Kevin McCloskey said.
Last season, 10 Outlier players moved on to new opportunities at colleges in the United States and Europe and professional teams in foreign countries. Players in the league range in age from 16-20 years old. Some attend online high school classes or college courses. Two players are attending college courses at Salt Lake Community College.
“We have a lot of really good players. We have high-end players that are being sought after. From a skill level, we have a big team that has size and aggressiveness. This team is very exciting,” head coach Paul Taylor said.
The team plays its home games at the Accord Ice Center in West Valley. The games resemble a professional atmosphere. There is music, a pep band, promotions, concessions and souvenirs.
They started the season off splitting their first six games, three wins and three losses. They opened the season against their rivals the Ogden Mustangs Sept. 29-30. They dropped the first game 6-5 and pulled out a victory in the second 3-2. In its second weekend series, they traveled to Denver, Colorado and played the Colorado Jr. Eagles taking one of three games.
“The expectation is for us to be a top team. It takes some time for the team to come together and get used to each other’s tendencies and style. We are demanding about puck possession and it takes some skill to master,” Taylor said.
Brandon Krumpshmid leads the team after its first six games with four goals. Zack Hoffman, Gianni Vitali and Dylan Massie each have five assists.
In the team’s first home game, Oct. 13, the Outliers polished off the visiting South Oregon Spartans 6-1. The Outliers controlled the puck from the opening faceoff netting three goals in the first period, one in the second and two more in the final stanza.
“Tonight was a mental test for our goalkeeper to stay alert when the game was so quiet for so long. He made some big saves,” Taylor said.
Goalkeeper Otto Saxin faced only 10 shots the entire game. The lone Spartans goal came from a mishandled puck at center ice that the defender was able to misdirect towards the net.
“I think we were a little inconsistent at times. We could have finished our chances a little better and scored a lot more. Sometimes when we get a lead early we tend to take our foot off the gas,” Taylor said.
Taylor and McClosky along with the team staff have recruited players from five different countries including Latvia, Russia, Canada and Sweden to make up the roster. The amateur players train three hours a day at an off-ice training facility and spend two hours on the ice in the afternoon.
“The team is very driven and determined. These guys are young guys, but they are very serious. They have moved from all over the world to play here and get this chance,” Taylor said.
The Outliers next home game is scheduled for Nov. 3 against the Casper Coyotes. A full schedule and more information can be found on the team’s website www.utahoutliers.com