Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Idaho Steelheads Report: Robinson, Steelheads Close Out Eagles In Longest Game in ECHL History

Josh Robinson (Credit: Allen Picard/Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern burned the midnight oil to put in this recap of the ECHL's longest game in history...

Idaho goalie Josh Robinson made 83 saves on 85 shots, tying an ECHL record and closing out the Colorado Eagles' season with a win in Game 6. The Steelheads and Eagles set a number of records in the game. The contest was both the longest in real time and game time at 5 hours 42 minutes and 137 minutes and 18 seconds, respectively. The 151 total shots on net set an ECHL record.

As the hour neared 1 AM in the Treasure Valley, the few hundred remaining fans saw David deKastrozza put home a Gaelan Patterson pass for a 3-2 victory. Texas-contracted defenseman Russ Sinkewich had a beautiful keep on the play, earning the 'third assist'.

The celebration on the ice after the goal was part jubilation, part relief, and part shock for Idaho. For the Eagles, it marked the end of their season, and some of their players just collapsed on the ice in exhaustion. At the end of the day, this was a very entertaining series that could have gone either way and the Steelheads were able to bury just a few more shots at the right time to get the series win and advance in the playoffs.

On to the Conference Semi-Finals which start Thursday up in Alaska. More on the schedule later in the week.

Live period-by-period recap after the jump...

Period 1

The first few minutes of the game had more of a game 1 feel as each team probed where there were weaknesses on the other side. That lasted all of about 5 minutes.

The Eagles at one point early in the period led the shot totals by a count of five to four. By the end of the period Colorado had outshot the Steelheads by a total of 14 to 6. From ice level it appeared that the Steelheads despite being outshot, had the better of the chances in the period. A lot of Colorado’s chances were from the outside, or just floated in from the top of the circles.

The Steelheads hit one post, had one re-direction just trickle wide after a good fore-check, and had a David de Kastrozza tip one about a foot wide after a nice pass from Gaelan Patterson.

Colorado had one chance from the bottom of the right wing circle and missed wide, and Brock Montgomery had to take a hooking penalty to negate a chance 14:35 into the period.

The Steelheads didn’t control the territorial play until late in the period and had most of their success by dumping the puck in and forcing the Eagles defensemen to make quick plays with the puck. Most of their chances came on turnovers in the first period.

Some cleaning up needs to be done by the Steelheads in their own end as they turned the puck over a handful of times as well, but Josh Robinson has stood strong in net and turned aside all 14 shots through the first period.

Idaho will have just over a minute of power play time to start the second.

Period 2

Colorado was able to kill off the carry over power play time to start the period and then they went on the offensive. Alex Hudson was able to get to a loose puck a half stride prior to Josh Robinson, who was looking for a poke check and was to puck the puck in the back of the net to give Colorado a 1-0 lead early in the second period.

The Steelheads were able to do a good job of pushing back after the goal and started carrying the play into the Eagles zone, but it was Marc Cheverie who made save after save and was able to keep the Steelheads off the score board throughout the second period. Cheverie has shown some really good rebound control through two periods as he has been able to kick the puck into the corners or deflect it up into the netting multiple times during the first 40 minutes.

Idaho was able to limit a lot of chances for the Eagles after that first goal, but Colorado was able to get one more quality chance and made no mistake as Luke Fulghum was able to redirect a shot through traffic past Josh Robinson and into the back of the net to stretch the lead out to 2-0 with 6:15 left in the period.

The second period was a mostly clean period right up until the end where there was a set of matching minors followed by a Patterson high-sticking. Colorado will have 1:43 of carry over power play time to start the 3rd. Shots through two periods; Colorado 28, Idaho 18.

Period 3

Three periods is not enough. Gaelan Patterson and Justin Mercier scored 16 second apart in the first three minutes of the period to knot the game up at 2-2. From there both teams would have a couple of great chances during the period including a power play each way after the game was tied up.

Cheverie looked a bit rattled as Patterson was able to jam home a rebound after the Eagles were unable to clear it away after a Jason Bast breakaway to get the score back to 2-1. As mentioned just 16 second later, Charlie Dodero floated a pass high over the Eagles to their blue line where Brett Robinson was able to catch it, drop it down to his stick and send it over to Mercier who made a great shot from the bottom of the left wing circle, over the glove hand of Cheverie and into the top far corner to tie the game up, and go into one of the better Steelheads celebrations of the season.

For the next little while the Eagles were back on their heels and Cheverie started fighting the puck for a bit. However, give Colorado credit, they had the standing eight count and were able to fight it off and get themselves back into the game and had two or three real good chances, including one where Josh Robinson had to come out and make a great poke check off of Kyle Kraemer’s stick to preserve the tie.

The teams would trade couple of chances as the period wound down, but as to be expected the game became very cautious as time started to wind down.

Last season the Eagles and Steelheads went into overtime three times in six games. This is the first overtime of the postseason this year. At stake as we head into the extra session: If Idaho scores the next goal they will advance to take on the Alaska Aces. If Colorado scores, we will be back here tomorrow night for a do or die game 7.

First Overtime

This game should be over 4 different times for both teams Luke Judson could have had about 3 game winners. The stars of the first overtime were Josh Robinson and Marc Cheverie. In that period Robinson saved all 19 shots sent in his direction including a couple great scramble saves. Cheverie had the highlight save of the period as after a couple of bounces the puck ended up on Judson’s stick and with the whole net staring at him, Cheverie sold out and dove across the crease to make an elbow save to continue the game.

There were no penalties or power plays in that period and if some of the penalties there were not called are any indication, the standard has fallen off and it will take an automatic penalty (puck over glass) or some kind of play that injuries a player or puts a player into a dangerous situation (boarding).

All in all a very entertaining period of hockey, but also a slightly stressful one with both teams trading chances. Toward the end of the period, Colorado went back to their strategy of just throwing pucks on the net from the blue line, and Robinson did a good job of making the saves and controlling the rebounds. Shots in the period, Idaho 6; Colorado 19.

Second Overtime

In this period, the Colorado Eagles once again came out applying pressure to the Idaho Steelheads. This time however, the play was slowed down a bit and was not as wide open as the first overtime. Have to think that the slowing down of play is a product of fatigue setting in.

Both teams still have chances to finish the game, this time for Idaho it was William Rapuzzi who found himself with the game on his stick in the slot, but once again, Cheverie came up the save to extend the Eagles season for at least a little while longer. Towards the end of the period, it was visible to me at ice level that the Eagles defensemen started to labor a bit towards the end of the period and the Steelheads were able to get a lot of positive momentum heading into the end of the period.

Once again the two teams will have the long change, and Colorado was trying to leak a forward to try to get a breakaway and it worked one time in the first overtime session so that is something that the Steelheads need to be aware of in this period. Shots in the period favored the Steelheads as they outshot the Eagles by a count of 15-6 for the second overtime period. For the record it is now 11:30pm MT.

Third Overtime

In the interest of full disclosure I stopped the period by period “live” updates after the second overtime. If I were to have written a third overtime update last night it would have went something like this: “No one scored, we are moving on to a 4th overtime period.”

But here is more of an actual account of the period. Once again both goaltenders stood tall in net and made some outstanding saves when called upon. Brett Robinson had a couple of point blank chances that Cheverie was able to turn away to keep the game tied at two. Josh Robinson in the Steelheads zone was also able to make some big saves on a couple of scrambles out in front of the net. One big noticeable change was that Colorado started to move their “shot position” further away from the net.

Their strategy early in the game was to get the puck into the slot and try to bang home at rebounds, but with the Steelheads getting back defensively and shutting down line rush chances, the Eagles went back to the theory of put the puck on net as soon as you get over the line and hope.

Either way, neither team was able to score and the shot totals for the period were Idaho 12 and Colorado 13.

Fourth Overtime

IT’S OVER! We can all go home courtesy of David de Kastrozza who was able to ease home a pass from Gaelan Patterson to give the Idaho Steelheads a 3-2 victory, 4-2 series win, and a date with the Alaska Aces in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

On a nice keep from Russ Sinkewich, Rob Linsmayer was able to fight through a couple of checks from Eagles defenders and find Paterson just inside the left face-off circle. Eagles goaltender Cheverie sold out for the quick shot, but Patterson was able to locate de Kastrozza on the backdoor with a pass. de Kastrozza softly redirected the puck into the wide open net.

Credit to Referee Stephen Reneau and linesman Scott DeBaugh and Andrew Wetzel, as they all did a good job getting calls correct and making sure the players stuck to hockey during the overtimes.
Finally to Will Hoenike (Idaho) and Kevin McGlue (Colorado) for pushing through over two games of hockey and still not only getting out of the arena with their voices (sort of) but for their ability to stay sharp when calling the play by play into the late hours of the night/early morning.

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