The Vail Yeti defeated Arizona Outlaws 8-5 in game one of the MWHL Cup Finals presented by Allegiant. Bill Foster scored three goals to lead the Yeti.
Vail opened the scoring in the fifth annual MWHL championship series at 19:33 of the first period when Foster took a pass from Derrick Gerhardt then broke in alone to beat Alex Palumbo in the Outlaws net. The teams spent the next seven minutes exchanging chances until Jake Bayers tied the game for the Outlaws with a shorthanded goal assisted by Justin Havrilliak. Vail responded seconds later at 12:29 with a goal by Dalton Speelman from Foster. Arizona equalized again at 5:51 when Colton St. Clair took a Havrilliak pass then beat Yeti goalie Spencer Gold.
With the game tied to start the second period, the teams continued their high speed attacks. With the officials racing to keep up with the rushes, there were plenty of opportunities for players trailing the play to take digs at each other. Although the clubs met just once during the regular season, it quickly became clear that they didn’t like each other.
Foster struck for his second goal of the game at 11:03 from Justin Elmore to give Vail a 3-2 lead. But the Outlaws rebounded immediately with a goal by Keanan Romero from Jon Eades at 10:39. Arizona got their first lead of the game at 6:57 when St. Clair scored his second goal of the game from Chris Walker. But it was short-lived as the Yeti roared back with two late goals. First Speelman collected his second goal of the game with an assist by Andy Canzanello then Foster completed his hat trick at 3:34 with an assist from Elmore to give put the Yeti back in front heading into the intermission.
The MWHL’s leading goal scorer, Elmore, struck at 19:21 of the third period to give the Yeti a two goal lead. The league’s leading points scorer, Havrilliak returned the favor with an Outlaws goal at 18:24 to keep the gap at one. Despite throwing everything they had at the Yeti, the high-scoring Arizona offense couldn’t crack the the league’s top defense the rest of the way. Yeti defenders Canzanello and Jeff Tarala held the line while goalie Gold made key saves down the stretch.
Vail managed to stretch their lead at 4:29 when Elmore converted a Foster pass then Matt Merritt provided an insurance goal at 2:21 from Will Compton. With the clock ticking down, the Arizona captain Justin Miller left a calling card with Foster who, despite giving up several inches, held his own in the game’s only fight.