|Josh Robinson, still without painted lid, prepares for a shot. (Credit: Steelheads)|
The Idaho Steelheads continued their season's longest home stand (nine games) this past weekend, when the Utah Grizzlies (Abbotsford Heat) came into town for three games last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Steelheads managed to take 5 out of 6 points. While the results are positive, it was a mixed bag in terms of how well the team looked at times during the series.
Wednesday Feb 27 vs. Utah Grizzlies 3-2 SOL
In what would be a theme for the weekend, the Grizzlies only had 14 skaters dressed for the game and had to go with an emergency back-up goaltender. Perhaps this led to the Steelheads coming out of the dressing room with no real sense of urgency or energy. In what would turn into an odd game, right off the opening faceoff, Mike Towns dropped his gloves and was ready to go with a Utah player (I’m assuming it was discussed prior to the puck drop) but when it was time to go, the Utah player just skated away. What was odd about it, was that there was no penalty called on Towns for dropping his stick and gloves. But we were just getting started.
Twice, the Steelheads would take one goal leads in this game. In the first it was Tyler Gron* who notched his 14th of the season that made it 1-0 just 2:16 into the first. Utah tied the game right back up at the 7:53 mark to make it 1-1 after one. Neither team would score in the second period. In the 3rd the teams would once again trade goals with Sam Carrick scoring for the Steelheads to make it 2-1 and Gaelan Patterson for Utah to tie it right back up at 2. In the overtime, the Steelheads looked to have the better of the play until a promotion puck and a water bottle were thrown out on the ice within a few minutes of each other necessitating a fan interference bench minor call against the Steelheads.
Fortunately for the Steelheads the penalty kill rose up and killed the Utah power play. In the shootout Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson stopped 5 out of 6 shots directed his way, unfortunately the Steelheads would extend their inability to score a shootout goal to 0-24 and the Grizzlier skated away with a 1-0 SO win and the 3-2 game win.
I was down next to the bench on Wednesday when the water bottle was thrown on the ice and based on what some of the players were yelling at the officials, there was some thought that the bottle was actually thrown out onto the ice by a group of Utah fans. While I was unable to confirm who threw the bottle out onto the ice, I can confirm that the Utah Grizzlies scratched players were seated in the area where the water bottle came from and that fans did point in their general direction when security inquired who threw the bottle. Let your conspiracy theories commence.
*Tyler Gron has been named the Reebox Hockey ECHL Rookie of the Month for February. He scored 10 goals and added 11 assists to go along with a plus 6 rating during the month. He is the third Idaho Steelhead to win Rookie of the Month as Josh Robinson (November) and Austin Fyten (January) have also won the award this season
Friday March 1 vs. Utah Grizzlies 6-0 W
On Friday the Idaho Steelheads played their most complete game in weeks as they defeated the Utah Grizzlies by a score of 6-0. Josh Robinson earned his 3rd shutout in the last 8 games as he turned aside all 36 Utah Grizzlies shots. It was also a great day to be part of the Austin Smith, Rylan Galiardi, and David Toews line as they each got in on multiple goals during the game. Smith came away with 2G 2A, Galiardi 1G 3A and Toews 1G 2A.
The special teams was also working well as the Steelheads had two goals courtesy of the power play and two shorthanded. Smith, Galiardi and Brett Robinson got goals in the first period for the Steelheads as they took a 3-0 lead to the locker room after 1. In the second it was Toews and Smith once again as the Steelheads held a 5-0 lead after two. In the third David de Kastrozza added his 19th of the year for a 6-0 Steelheads victory.
Saturday March 2 vs. Utah Grizzlies 4-3 SOW
Saturday once again found the Steelheads back in another dogfight with the Grizzlies. Tyler Beskorowany got the start for the “Steelies” and did not look all that comfortable in net for the first 2 periods of the contest. The Steelheads defense did a great job to allow “Besko” time to settle in and were able to keep a lot of shots to the perimeter. This was Tyler’s first live game action in about a week as he did not play during his call up to the Texas Stars, so the sloppy start was expected. The Steelheads once again got the first goal of the game as Ian Watters would get his 7th of the season just 4:02 into the game. Alex Tuckerman would tie the game about 9 minutes later and the teams headed to the break tied at 1.
The Grizzlies would score the only goal of the second before all the fans had a chance to return to their seats, when at the 56 second mark Ian Shultz gave the Grizzlies their first lead of the night. In the 3rd Jeremie Blain would tie the game up just 1:02 into the third on the power play, but Utah would once again take the lead as Evan Stoflet scored with 7:17 remaining. The Steelheads responded once again, and once again it was Austin Smith on a broken play at 16:50 of the period to tie the game and send it into an extra session.
Once again, neither team scored in the OT, and the game went into a shootout, and the ugly zero for their last 24 in shoot out attempt streak in shoot outs had this fan nervous. Those nerves were quickly taken care of as Ben Ondrus would lead the Steelheads who scored 3 out of 4 shots in the skills competition to send the Steelheads fans home with a smile on their face.
The Colorado Eagles (St. Johns Ice Caps) come in for a two game set on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will appear in next week's report. Idaho is 6-0 against the Eagles this season. On Friday and Saturday the Gwinnett Gladiators (Portland Pirates) come across the country to take on the Steelheads. The Steelheads are 1-1 against the Gladiators this season, as the two teams played a set in Gwinnett back in January.
- Austin Smith: Had a great 3 game set as he provided the majority of the offense over the three games against the Grizzlies. The playing time he wasn’t getting in Texas, he was assured of getting upon return. Smith played in all situations which included him scoring a SH goal.
- Josh Robinson: Played well in his stead as the number 1 goaltender while Tyler Beskorowany was in Texas. As a rookie, I don’t think it’s fair to expect him to play that many consecutive games. But he did perform well during his time and certainly did nothing to affect his status as a future number 1 goaltender.
- Tyler Beskorowany: Struggled in his first game back, but in fairness, seeing his first live action in about a week performed well enough to let the offense bail him out and get the win. Settled in and looked better the further the game went.
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