As the buzzer sounded on Ogden’s semifinal win in Game 3 over Pueblo, Mustangs head coach Kenny Orlando checked off the first box: getting to Nationals in Utica.
“We had some moments of adversity that really tested the character in the room. Seeing the response of the group with their backs against the wall shows what these kids are made of,” Orlando raved.
Ogden has come a long way and overcome some obstacles to punch their first ticket to Nationals. And last – as the Mustangs are moving to the NCDC West for 2023-24!
Headed into the 2022-23 season, there were some questions about where the scoring would stem from and how 18 new skaters would jell in the Ogden red and blue. So much for that.
“Earning this experience verifies a lot in our program that what we do works and the boys get rewarded for sticking to the process all year long. We are really looking forward to competing for a title,” Orlando gushed.
As a team, the ‘Stangs set a USPHL league record with 93 power play goals in 52 regular season contests with their potent power play offense. Five players (Jake Meure, Dimitri Voyatzis, Jacob Williams, Luke Faas, and Teddie Hember) reached the 50-point plateau, helping the ‘Stangs to a second place finish in the Mountain Division.
Individually, Buffalo State commit Jake Meure had the season of his life while becoming the league’s all time leading scorer in the second-to-last regular season contest. The Fremont, Calif., product finished in the top five in points, putting the biscuit in the basket 47 times en route to a 101-point (47-54-101) campaign.
It wasn’t just Meure pouring in the points either. Contributions abounded from all parts of the lineup while two unlikely heroes keyed the ‘Stangs’ path to Nationals.
“Lewis Izadi and David Ors-Mag were two players that really stepped up over the five games in the Mountain Division playoffs. We expect them to continue that momentum into Nationals to help push for a title,” Orlando declared.
Second-year forward Lewis Izadi had eight regular season goals and then exploded with a hat trick in Ogden’s Game 1 win in the semi-finals while goaltending acquisition David Ors-Mag was electric between the sticks for Ogden. Ors-Mag finished the divisional playoffs with a 2-1-0 record in four appearances and an eye-popping 1.62 GAA and .950 save percentage.
Good goaltending and clutch contributions underline the ‘Stangs key in Utica: succeeding in close games. Ogden’s regular season in one-goal games was an astounding 14-2-1-3, something that coach Orlando believes stems from the team’s confidence and buy-in; he plans on developing it further and capitalizing on it in Utica.
“Confidence comes with preparation. The boys know what is coming from their opponents through all aspects of review. Our group studies the game often off the ice, better preparing us for what we’ll see during those 60 minutes of battle,” he said.
With just days to go prior to the squad’s arrival in Utica, Orlando continues to preach buy-in from everyone: players, coaches, and fans alike.
“We had a couple of get-togethers outside of the rink going into our playoff push,” he began.
“We also want to get our fans involved in a team fundraiser through GoFundMe where they can receive signed merchandise if they want to help us on our trip to Nationals,” Orlando added.
Everyone around the program has circled the calendar for their March 23rd matchup with the Hudson Havoc, the next test in Ogden’s race for a first championship in franchise history.