Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Idaho Steelheads Report: Steelies Hold Serve on Road, Play Next 2 of 3 at Home

William Rapuzzi (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern gets back into the swing of things post-holidays. He's got a couple of games to talk about and takes a look at some potential players that could get a look in the AHL before the year’s over.

The tough road schedule concluded this past weekend with a pair of games against the Colorado Eagles (Independent) down in Loveland, Colorado. It also finished a four game set for the Idaho Steelheads where they had to play the number one and two teams in the Mountain Division. At the end of the weekend they were able to earn a clean split with overtime and get out of town for what would have to be called a successful weekend of games.

It didn’t start off looking like it was going to be a good weekend for the Steelheads. On Friday night, the team allowed a goal within the first ten minutes of the game and was only able to manage ten shots through two periods. Things got better when they put seven shots on goal in the third, but there was not a whole lot of offense to speak of for the Steelheads in the game. It also didn’t help that 32 shot attempts either went wide of target or were blocked before arriving.

One of the positives from Friday night was the return of forward Austin Fyten from Oklahoma City after a week away, which included a game against their affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. Another positive was the fact that the Steelheads only were defeated 3-0 on a night where there was no real offensive push. It tells me that defensively things are still being held together with some new faces and Pat Nagle in goal (31 of 34 shots).

With the positives coming into focus for Saturday, the Steelheads decided to spot the Eagles a 2-0 lead only so that they could put up a four spot in the third and come away with a 4-2 win. Austin Fyten got the game winner and an empty net goal to seal the deal for the Steelheads, and Nagle was able to stop 24 of 26 for the game as well. The game also featured newly acquired defenseman Charlie Dodero, who recorded three assists for his first career ECHL three-point game.

What’s Next?
The Steelheads get a brief look at home ice this week as they have a three-game set against the Utah Grizzlies (Norfolk Admirals) on Wednesday and Friday before both teams head to Utah for game three on Saturday. With the Steelheads being able to hold serve with splits the past two weeks against the Alaska Aces (Abbotsford Heat) and the Colorado Eagles, it would be nice if they could take two out of three against the Grizzlies this weekend.

Players to Watch
The following is a list of players that either have been called up to the AHL or who might be on a team’s short list in case they need a player.

  • Anthony Nigro (15-21-35 in 30 GP): Had a look at the next level with Texas earlier this year. Solid AHL player with Peoria in past seasons.
  • Mitch Wahl (11-25-36 in 31 GP): Has already seen some time in the AHL with Utica, might get another call as the season starts to wind down.
  • Tommy Grant (11-25-36 in 34GP): Has been playing better of late and has taken over a leadership role with the team. If he continues his strong play I could see him getting a look towards the end of the year as well.
  • Justin Mercier (10-8-18 in 32 GP): Currently in Iowa with the Wild and probably deserved the call sooner. Has been the vocal leadership on the bench this season and has done a great job as Captain keeping all the players together and on the same page.
  • Patrick Cullity (3-15-18 in 34 GP): Offensively he has done enough to see some more time in the AHL this year. Might just be a numbers game keeping him in the ECHL so far this year.
  • William Rapuzzi (7-15-22 in 23 GP): Was probably one of the “fast track” guys to the AHL this year the way the season has started, but some injuries have forced him out of the minds of AHL GMs. A couple of red hot scoring weeks will put him right back on the front burner.

Until next week…

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