Alex Forbes’ skates slide across the ice as he deftly ducks the defender and shoots. A collective gasp escapes from the crowd, followed by a deafening roar as the puck flies through the corner of the net.
This may sound like a moment from a professional hockey game, but it’s actually a scene from an Ogden Mustangs game.
The Mustangs are a junior league hockey team and are members of the Western States Hockey League.
They are also Ogden’s only club hockey team. The team does more than play in Ogden: They’ve made it their home.
“The team is out here supporting the community, and in turn the community comes out and supports the team,” Jill Smith said.
Jill and Russell Smith serve as one of several billet, or host, families for the Mustangs.
“As a billet family, we didn’t just take in a couple guys to live with us,” Russell Smith said. “We added a couple members to our family.”
The Mustangs have become an integral part of family time for Ogden native Brenda Empie.
Empie said, “Only some of us will go to basketball, only some of us will go to football, but everyone will come to watch hockey.”
Many fans argue that the Mustangs fans have, in fact, become a family of their own.
“Here, it really is a family,” Smith said. “They come down and sign autographs for everybody. You get to know the other fans, and in turn, we have a bigger traveling fan base than most teams have at home.”
The fans aren’t the only ones feeling the love, though.
“It’s very rare to find the commitment level we have in our community and among the fans that support us,” Mustangs head coach Jake Laime said.
If the number of fans at the games doesn’t show how much the Mustangs fans love their team, the energy inside the arena certainly does.
“All year I wait for hockey season so I can come cheer on the guys,” Mustangs fan Amanda Sands said. “The atmosphere and the energy here is absolutely electric.”
Laime is specific in that he wants his recruits to be willing to commit to the Mustang style of hockey and be a team player.
“We don’t always look for the best guys; we look for the right guys,” Laime said. “Everyone serves a purpose on this team.”
The Mustangs work hard to give their players the best opportunity to go to the next level. In most cases, that means players going to four-year universities.
“The Mustangs literally saved my hockey career,” Mustangs player Nick Frankich said. “This team and these fans mean the world to me. “
The Mustangs are setting records this season, one of which was winning 18 straight games to start their season.
The relationship the Ogden Mustangs players, coaches and fans share is uncommon, and many say it is a large part of the reason the Mustangs have found success here.
One thing is sure, as Frankich said, “Once a Mustang, always a Mustang.”