|Jace Coyle (Credit: Idaho Steelheads)|
Back where we began. The Idaho Steelheads and the Ontario Reign have played two games of their best of seven Western Conference Semi-Final match-up, and nothing has been decided one way or the other. The teams depart Ontario, CA, all tied up at one game apiece. We also know that the Steelheads will have home-ice advantage for what has now turned into a best of five game series.
We also don’t know who will be in the Steelheads net when game three starts on Wednesday in Boise. Tyler Beskorowany got the start this past Saturday and allowed 4 goals on 21 shots in just over 45 minutes of action. Josh Robinson came in for relief and allowed 1 goal on 6 shots. In fairness to Robinson, the game had long been decided before Ontario got their 5th goal en route to a 5-0 white washing of the Steelheads.
In what was clearly their worse game of the playoffs if not the entire season, the Steelheads missed the net too many times on shot attempts (19 credited shots for the entire game), played uninspired points, and goaltending allowed too many rebounds into high percentage scoring areas.
This isn’t to say that the Steelheads did not have their chances on Saturday, it’s just that they didn’t have a lot of quality chances and were unable to finish any of the ones they had. As of writing, the Steelheads are still waiting to hear if they are going to have the services of defenseman Gord Baldwin after he got tagged with a leaving the bench during an altercation penalty. Those normally come with a suspension, but it appears video evidence shows he had just stepped onto the ice for a regular change as the whistle blew to stop play. When I know, you’ll know (@mulhern4 on Twitter).
Now, there is some positive to come out of this past weekend. The Steelheads took away the home ice advantage on Friday night as they improved to 3-1 in OT games this playoff year. It was a game where the Steelheads had a 2-0 lead with 10:46 remaining in the 3rd period when Ben Ondrus* was assessed a five minute slashing major as well as a game misconduct. The Reign were unable to score until 16 seconds remained on the major penalty. It seemed like the Steelheads were still in the driver’s seat until after a couple of missed interference calls the Reign tied the game back up at 2 and sent game 1 into overtime. It was the 3rd overtime for the Reign as their OT record would fall to 2-1 during the playoffs.
Tyler Gron would send the Reign fans home disgruntled and quiet as at the 12:12 mark of the period, Gron would make a pass from the left point to the right point on a line rush to Andrew Carroll. Carroll was able to get enough of a stick on the puck to poke it to the top of the right hand circle where Gron would skate over and blindly spin around and send a shot towards goaltender Jean-Francois Berube. The puck would beat Berube, and the Steelheads had a 1-0 series lead. Tyler Beskorowany got the win stopping 37 of 39 shots.
So to recap, here is what we know. We know we have two evenly matched teams coming to Boise this week (Wed- Fri- Sat) to continue what may be the best and most evenly matched Conference Semi-Final matchup this season. There is no love lost between these two teams and with the physical play both teams bring to the ice, this series is only getting started. Should be a good one.
* - Ben Ondrus avoided suspension for his slashing major and game misconduct penalty Friday night. My personal opinion watching the video was that Ondrus and Mario Lamoureux got tied up and both threw some elbows until Lamoureux went down holding his ear. I think referee JM McNulty over reacted to the injury in assessing the major and game misconduct. If I was making the call I think 2 each for roughing and maybe an extra minor to Ondrus because of the injury. There was no big wind up with Ondrus’ stick on the play.