#DineenCupFinals Team Preview: Ogden Mustangs

#Dineen Cup Finals Team Preview: Ogden Mustangs 


Dineen Cup Finals

South Shore Kings vs. Ogden Mustangs

All Games At Foxboro Sports Center, Foxboro, Mass.

Friday, April 26, 7 p.m. EST

Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m. EST

Sunday, April 28, 4:30 p.m. EST*

* = If Necessary 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLNCDC.com 


Wednesday, April 24, is a travel day for the Ogden Mustangs. Those with the window seats will see a lot of American pass by underneath, as they traveled from Salt Lake City to Boston, Mass., via Houston, Texas. They’re going on the trip determined to come back with one extra piece of luggage, namely the Dineen Cup.  

The Mustangs, already the first Mountain Division team to make the Dineen Cup Finals, is hoping to become the first team from the newest division to win the title of NCDC champions as well. 

When they hit the ice Friday in Foxboro, Mass., to face the New England Division Champion South Shore Kings – making their second straight Dineen Cup Finals appearance – it will mark the first time a Mountain team has seen either a New England or Atlantic Division team in this inaugural season of the Mountain Division. That poses some challenges in terms of scouting and handicapping the competition, according to Mustangs GM/Head Coach Kenny Orlando. 

“We all wish we would’ve gotten a taste of each other during the season, in terms of exposure and scouting,” said Orlando. “It just didn’t work out that way in this first year schedule, but we see this as a great weekend to prove our worth and prove what we’ve done all year against very high-end products – there are some very good teams out west. We are going east as a representative of the six teams here and representing the quality of hockey in the Mountain, and we’re excited for the opportunity to do that.” 

Ogden and South Shore are so close on paper (or in this case a laptop screen): Ogden finished at 37-12-3-1 for 78 points and South Shore finished 36-12-2-2 for 76 points. South Shore’s goal differential was a +70 and Ogden’s was a +69. South Shore finished second in power play percentage at 26.9 percent, and Ogden was third at 22.8 percent. 

The South Shore Kings also featured several New England Division award-winners on their roster – this includes the Defenseman Of The Year (Salvatore Cerrato), Goaltender Of The Year (Ryan Keyes) and recently announced MVP and Forward Of The Year (Kotaro Murase). Ogden featured the Mountain Forward and Rookie Of The Year (Parker Osborn) and Coach Of The Year (Orlando). The Mustangs were the Mountain Division Organization Of The Year and the Kings were the New England Division Organization Of The Year. So it stands to reason that both teams are very good and will both bring everything they can to keep the other team from touching the trophy. 

“South Shore  is a very fast, skilled, quick transition type of team. They are very opportunistic when they get the puck inside the dots,” said Orlando. “However, a lot of their offense also comes from the point, and the forwards then create from there. They attack with speed off the rush, in unison, and that’ll force all of our forwards to play a 200-foot game. Really, it will be a series of 10 guys always playing 200 feet in order to win the series.” 

Aside from his scouting report on South Shore, Orlando also knows his team is extremely strong in many areas that he expects will force South Shore to make adjustments on the fly. 

“Our structure in the defensive zone limits where we allow shots to come from, and helps dictate where pucks are collected by us. The way we’re structured in our own zone and around our net makes it tough for other teams to get quality shots,” added Orlando. “We rely on our structure of the five-man defense to make sure their guys don’t get to secondary pucks. Another advantage is our power play and the way it forces opponents out of position, allowing us to move pucks effectively.”

Several Mustangs were among the team leaders in several categories this year. Osborn was second in league scoring with 66 points and tied for the league lead in goals scored with 38. He also tied for second in game-winning goals with seven. Longtime Mustang and Captain Dimitri Voyatzis finished in a tie for 10th overall with 54 points in his first NCDC season. Brody Simko led in shootout goals during the regular season with four. 

Nikita Volsky finished sixth in goals against average at 2.49. Teddie Hember finished sixth among defensemen in points with 38 points and he was third in defenseman goals with 11. All of these players have picked their game up even further in the playoffs. 

“The first one without question is Nikita Volsky. He’s played in seven games and given up just 10 goals. The kid’s absolutely on fire right now,” said Orlando. “You just try to stay out of his way, don’t change anything, don’t get into his head, just make sure he’s healthy and make sure he sees where shots are coming from.

“Brody Simko has really stepped up and ended up scoring all three GWG’s in the Idaho Falls series, and created several opportunities against Utah as well. He will continue to be leaned upon heavily,” Orlando added. “Voyatzis, as our Captain and leader, found a way to keep the boys all on the same page after we suffered a tough pass into our own net to lose in overtime against the Spud Kings. Parker has continued to create a ton of opportunities, and on D, Grant Hineman and Owen Hendrikson have been great as far as shutting down other teams.” 

The “seventh player” award for Ogden, however, has to go to their home crowds in their Wasatch Range-fronting home arena of the Weber County Ice Sheet. Ogden brought in between 1,000-1,500 per night all through the season – and they’ve had a lot of these fans reaching out to let them know they’ll be in the stands of Foxboro to try to make their favorite team feel like even Eastern Massachusetts is still Mustang territory. 

“When you hear about Ogden fans talking about coming out, it speaks volumes to the community that we’ve built out here. We have very, very loyal fans of these kids, people who are 100 percent bought into this and they’re taking time and money away from their work and family schedules to support our players for their last weekend of hockey,” said Orlando. “That shows what the West is about. A lot of our teams have that same level of support, and we hope it opens up eyes in the East as to what we have out here.” 

Wednesday late afternoon will see the Mustangs touch down at Logan International Airport in Boston. They’ll be staying in Dedham, Mass., about 15 miles outside Boston and about the same distance from Foxboro. They’ll practice Thursday at Foxboro Sports Center and then get in a gameday morning skate at the Boch Ice Center in Dedham, well ahead of that night’s 7 p.m. Eastern Time faceoff. 

“We’ve had a lot of rest, which we’re now super grateful for, in terms of being able to repair some injuries and take a deep breath before our most important games of the year,” Orlando added.