OGDEN – The Ogden Mustangs are set to start their 2012-13 season as they take on the Valencia Flyers Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Weber County Ice Sheet.
This season’s team has a substantially different make-up from last year’s. The Mustangs signed 19 new players in the offseason and brought back only four players from last year’s squad. Among the returners is the teams second leading scorer from a season ago, Kody Rodriguez.
“I’m excited for this season, to be back on the ice and start winning games,” Rodriguez said. “The team is looking great. We’re starting to gel and build chemistry. It should be a fun year.”
Also coming into the fold this season is first-year head coach Jake Laime. Laime, who came to the Mustangs in April from the Florida Jr. Blades in the Empire Junior Hockey League, has spent the summer building a team that he believes can compete for its first Western States Hockey League Championship.
“The summer recruiting was fantastic,” Laime said. “Everyone we brought in, from the returners to the new guys, can contribute. Our roster has the makings to be a very successful team in this league.”
After a slow start last year, the Mustangs were able to claw their way into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, finishing the season with a 13-29-3 record and grabbing the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. The Mustangs were then bounced in the first round by the eventual WSHL champions, the Idaho Jr. Steelheads.
While the Mustangs have made considerable strides to improve this season, so has the WSHL. This off-season saw the acceptance of six new teams into the league and the creation of the new Northwest Division. The division will now be home to the Mustangs as well as a few other teams ’Stangs fans may be familiar with. Both the Jr. Steelheads as well as the newly-relocated Salt Lake City Moose join Ogden. Also participating in the Northwest will be WSHL newcomers, the Seattle Jr. Totems and Southern Oregon Spartans. Both bring a solid reputation and a winning tradition to the league.
The Moose, who played their inaugural season in Park City, open the 2012-13 campaign next week at Idaho.
“Our division will be tough this year,” Laime said. “But our team is more than capable of beating the best teams this league has to offer, and we will be ready to go each game.”
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Weber County Ice Sheet. The Mustangs will again face off against the Flyers Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. Go here for ticket info.