Monday, December 26, 2016

Idaho Steelheads Playing Strong Team Game at Christmas Break

Philippe Desrosiers (Credit: Christina Shapiro)
Before hitting the Christmas break, Idaho (16-10-3) made a trip to the Lone Star state last weekend. Despite only playing each other on a few occasions, the Steelheads and the Allen Americans have developed a nasty rivalry borne of jealousy and hardened in the playoffs.

Idaho, being the Dallas Stars' affiliate in the ECHL, gets more attention than any other visitor to the Allen Event Center from both the local fans and the NHL team's front office and hockey ops. The games this past week were no exception as Scott White, Jim Nill, J.J. McQueen, Mike Valley, Jeff Reese and Les Jackson all made appearances for the games. Having the visitor get the fan adoration in your own building is a good ingredient for healthy hate.

Idaho meanwhile has some hate of its own as the Americans bumped the Steelheads from the playoff race last season in Game 7 overtime. Allen went on to crush league-favorite Missouri en route to their second Kelly Cup.

This past week's rematch was heated at times but never devolved into pugilence.

Here are a few quick evals on the weekend.
  • Philippe Desrosiers started the first game on Thursday. Idaho did not play well in front of him, and the team allowed six goals, all against Desrosiers. The Steelheads certainly weren't helping the effort but Desrosiers was not solid. With Jeff Reese and Mike Valley in the building, Desrosiers had a lengthy chat with Reese after the game. He was recalled the next day to Texas, and Brandon Komm started the second game.
  • Neil Graham: "We won't the game on him by any means. It's a team win or a team loss. My message postgame was that we are all accountable for that performance. We will make adjustments structurally. Often it's the small details that get away from you in a game like that."
    Neil Graham: "For Phil, it's been an up and down year. It's really important for those young goalies to remember one game at a time. You can't control who starts. All you can do is make saves when you get your starts."
  • Komm had an excellent outing for the Steelheads the second night. After Allen jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Komm stopped all the rest thereafter. Joe Faust, fresh off two games in the AHL, scored the opening goal for Idaho.
  • Neil Graham: "If Faust is on the roster, he'll be in. He's been very solid for us all year. He's earned every bit of it and he's really taken advantage of the opportunity."
  • Komm's third period was a fantastic effort, for which he should have earned a star of the game. 
  • Neil Graham: "Once the second goal went in, I had a feeling that would be it. He's a competitor and you could see that pushback."
I really liked the overall game that the Idaho Steelheads played on Friday. They didn't get overwhelmed and they had their goaltender lockdown a game to keep them in it. That sounds like the type of performance that Texas could have used early on in the season to keep them in many of their games where they found themselves behind the eight-ball after two.

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