Final-year Mustangs reflect on time in Ogden
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As the home stretch of the 2015-16 Western States Hockey League (WSHL) season is fast approaching, players are actively seeking lateral moves for next season.
That is especially true for players born in 1995, playing out their final months of junior hockey eligibility.
Eight 20-year-olds with the WSHL’s Ogden Mustangs wrap their junior careers in short order and Mustangs’ coach Jake Laime said he can see all playing NCAA hockey. One player, captain and all-time leading scorer Schuyler Seyfert, has already committed to Plattsburgh State University, a Division III school in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
“I have an old Ogden teammate and good friend, Jakob Engvall, at Plattsburgh and I could talk to him about the school and the team,” said Seyfert. “Luckily the coach from Plattsburgh, Bob Emery, saw me at the Muskegon Lumberjacks United States Hockey League camp three years ago and saw what I could to. He’s also friends with my coach here in Ogden and both helped speed up the process for me. I don’t really know what to expect next year. It’s going to be a change throwing school back into the mix of things and Plattsburgh is a very good hockey team, so I’m just going to go there and work hard to hopefully try and be a regular in the lineup as a freshman.”
The other 1995 birthyear players with the Mustangs are forwards Taylor Bowman and Caleb Pola, defensemen Justin Amaral and Johannes Leitner (pictured) and a trio of goaltenders in Ryan Gasparovic, Andreas Pettersson and Christoffer Sjoo.
While Utah is not the typical hockey hot spot, so to speak, the 1995-born players for the Mustangs have loved their time in Ogden.
“Last season, I had a really tough time getting traded around in the North American Hockey League and Jake convinced me to come to Ogden and it was the best decision I ever made,” Pola said. “I knew I had to stay here because this is a one-of-a-kind organization. We have all become a family and I can’t wait to come to the rink every morning.”
When asked what his favorite aspect is of the Mustangs, Sjoo produced a list.
“What I like the most about the team is hard to answer because I like a lot of it,” said Sjoo. “We have a great team with great players and we all are like brothers to each other. We also have two really great coaches, a fantastic owner and I can’t forget to mention our great fans. I came to Ogden after half the season last year and I really liked this place and the organization. And after the season when I got the opportunity to stay one more season, it was an easy choice and I didn’t doubt a second to come back to this great organization.”
And with the WSHL regular season ending in early March, Pola said the realization that junior hockey is concluding is difficult to fathom at times.
“It’s really tough to think about my junior career coming to an end, but I always knew the day would come,” said Pola. “I’ve had some of the best times of my life playing junior hockey. I’m really going to miss all the friends I have made and coaches that have helped me to where I am now. I am just really happy that I ended my junior career with such a great organization.”
Seyfert isn’t looking ahead to next season yet, though. He’s choosing to focus on a Thorne Cup run with Ogden.
“I’m definitely sad that I’m almost done with juniors, but I’m grateful because I was lucky to meet a lot of incredible people and great hockey players along the way,” said Seyfert. “All us ‘95s really talk about is the playoffs and winning everything this season, going out with a bang.
“That’s all I’m worried about right now.”
— Matt Mackinder