|Josh Robinson heads out to the ice. (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)|
Nine games in 12 nights. Five games in 6 nights. The Idaho Steelheads have just completed their toughest stretch of games this season. For a reward they get 4 days off starting 9 straight home games to finish the month of February and start the stretch drive in March. Let's look back at the 5 games played this past week.
Tuesday Feb 12 vs. San Francisco Bulls 3-2 Win
The Steelheads got away with playing 30 minutes of hockey on this night. They got outplayed and mistake prone for the first 10 minutes of the game. The turnovers also led to the Bulls (Worchester Sharks) first goal of the game as they would take a 1-0 lead after the first period. In the second period Brett Robinson, Sam Carrick and Tristan King each got a goal as the Steelheads had a nice bounce back period to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. Tyler Beskorowany, in net for the Steelheads, only had to make 8 saves in the second, but came up with a couple of great saves including a glove save on a point plank slot shot as well as a couple of others to allow the Steelheads to hold onto the 2 goal lead. In the third period, the Steelheads were content to sit on a 2 goal lead and were out-shot 20-4 as a result of it. The Bulls did make it interesting with a late power play goal and a couple of great chances with the goaltender pulled, but the Steelheads got a couple of bounces and were fortunate to get out with the win.
Wednesday Feb 13 vs. San Francisco Bulls 6-3 Loss
The Steelheads once again tried to only play a partial game against the Bulls, but on this night they were “rewarded” with what they deserved. It looked promising for the Steelheads as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead just over 16 minutes into the first on goals from Tyler Gron and David de Kastrozza. However, the Bulls would get a goal at the 17:07 mark of the period to zap some of the Steelheads momentum heading into the break. The Steelheads would take a 3-1 lead as de Kastrozza got his second of the game in the second period. With the partisan home crowd believing another win was in the cards, Idaho took their foot of the gas and the Bulls were able to capitalize. Peter Sivak and Rob Kwiet would each score twice and Kris Belan would add one more as the Bulls scored 4 straight goals against Josh Robinson, then would add an empty net goal to take a 6-3 victory. The worse part of the game is that the Steelheads were only 2 points away from officially clinching a playoff spot. What was a great opportunity, turned into a chance lost.
Friday Feb 15 @ Las Vegas Wranglers 4-2 Loss
After a day off, the Steelheads would travel down to Las Vegas to take on the Wranglers (Independent) who had won 7 straight, and were the hottest team in the ECHL. The Wranglers would increase the streak to 8 as the Steelheads never really posed a threat to the Wranglers. After Las Vegas took an early 1-0 lead in the first, Bryce Reddick would tie the game up at 1 just past the halfway point of the first, and that is the closest the Steelheads would come. The Wranglers would add two goals in the first 4:44 of the second period to take 3-1 lead. David de Kastrozza would pull the Steelheads to within one, but a Judd Blackwater goal at the 16 minute mark of the third made to 4-2 to put the game out of reach. Tyler Beskorowany got tagged with this loss after only saving 19 of 23 shots.
Saturday Feb 16 @ Ontario Reign 4-2 Win
Due to yet another odd scheduling quirk, the Steelheads had to hop on a bus for about a 4 hour bus ride from Las Vegas to Ontario to take on the Reign (Manchester Monarchs). Not sure what exactly was talked about on the bus ride over, but the Steelheads got back in form as the teams would split goals in the first period. David de Kastrozza matched Dan DaSilva’s goal for the Reign and Brett Robinson would answer a goal from Ontario’s C.J. Stretch. After one, the game was tied at 2. The Steelheads would get the only goal in the second as Jace Coyle would make it 3-2 at the 10:15 mark of the period. In the third the Steelheads would again be the only team to score a goal. This time it was David Toews with the tally to create the difference and the giving the Steelheads and Josh Robinson (27sv 29sh) a 4-2 win, and officially clinching a playoff spot. The Steelheads are the 3rd fastest team in ECHL history to clinch a playoff position, having done so in 53 games.
Sunday Feb 17/Monday Feb 18 @ Las Vegas 3-2 Win
The Wranglers had their second midnight game of the season as the Steelheads got a little bit of unexpected rest after travelling back from Ontario. The late start allowed the team to get a little extra rest and a little more time to sleep, but you wouldn’t know it from the first period as the Wranglers outshot the Steelheads 10-4. Josh Robinson getting his second consecutive start (Tyler Beskorowany was called up prior to Saturday’s game) stopped all 10 of the shots that the Wranglers directed at the Steelheads net. All the fireworks started in the second after an extended intermission, the Steelheads scored twice in the first 1:39 as Jace Coyle and Ian Watters would give the Steelheads a 2-0 lead. However, just for good measure, the Steelheads would win the fights as well. Scott Todd and Matt Case both scored decisions in their fights at the 2:11 and 3:54 marks of the second respectively. Ben Ondrus would add on the Steelheads third and ultimately game winning goal at the 12:12 mark of the same period. The Wranglers, looking to extend their streak to 10 wins in a row, threw everything they had at the Steelheads. They would two past Robinson, but no more as the Steelheads ended a brutal stretch of games with the 3-2 win.
- Tristan King has been called up by the Texas Stars with the intent that he will be re-assigned to the San Francisco Bulls. This marks the second time in two seasons that the Dallas Stars have re-assigned him away from Idaho.
- Jace Coyle has been called up by the Stars and in his first game contributed with an assist and a plus 1 rating.
- Tyler Beskorowany has also been called up to fill in while Christopher Nihlstrop is up in the NHL.
- Josh Robinson has played well during the first half of February as he has a 2.57 GAA and a .932 SV% to go along with his first professional shut out earlier this month.
The San Francisco Bulls come back into town. The Steelheads are 2-2 against the Bulls this season. While the Steelheads have clinched a playoff berth already, the Bulls are sliding back a bit and are currently only 4 points up on last place Bakersfield Condors.