|Pat Nagle and Tyler Elbrecht (Credit: Loren Orr/Idaho Steelheads)
I’m back baby!! After taking a bit of a break for Thanksgiving and finally breaking out of that turkey coma, let’s get back into some Idaho Steelheads recapping. There are 5 games to cover and a lot of movement, some good and some bad since we last talked.
Way back on November 26, the Steelheads defeated the Las Vegas Wranglers 4-1 in a game that was 1-1 until William Rapuzzi, Taylor Vause and Patrick Cullity scored goals to put the game out of reach. Cullity had his first multiple goal night as a professional. Josh Robinson picked up the win with 23 saves on 24 shots.
The two teams met the day after Thanksgiving, and once again it was a spirited game. This one went into a shootout as former Steelhead Bryce Reddick tied the game up at thee and when neither team scored in the bonus session, the Wranglers came out on top 4-3 in the shootout which needed seven rounds to complete. Brett Robinson, Brock Montgomery, and Mitch Wahl all had goals for the Steelheads as Josh Robinson took the shootout loss make 21 saves on 24 shots in regulation.
The Stockton Thunder came to town last week with a lead over the Steelheads in the conference but were riding a losing streak as well upon arrival. The Steelheads assisted in extending that losing streak on both Wednesday and Friday as they served up wins of 6-3 and 4-2.
Wednesday’s game saw the ejection of Brett Robinson for an elbow in the first period and an injury to William Rapuzzi meant the Steelheads only had 8 forwards to go along with 6 defensemen. Head Coach Brad Ralph figuring he could make due with 5 defensemen, called upon Tyler Elbrecht to play both ways, literally. Elbrecht was tasked as a third line winger during 5 on 5 play, and was moved back to defense for any penalty kill situation that arose during the game. He brought a lot of effort to the forwards and really energized the bench with his physical style of play. It really seemed to allow him to turn loose a bit as opposed to being the steady solid defenseman that he normally is. He always has that physical presence; it was just more noticeable on the fore-check then in a race for a puck behind the net scenario.
Cullity had a three point night, Mitch Wahl extended his point streak, and Pat Nagle got the win with 24 saves on 27 shots.
Friday night December 6th was another entertaining game and one that I think in the long run will help this team. First in the short run the Steelheads won the game 4-2 as Austin Fyten decided it was going to be a breakout game as he got his first 3 goals since being assigned from Oklahoma City a couple weeks back. Mitch Wahl also chipped in, and Josh Robinson got another win after stopping 31 of 32 shots on net.
The way the team had to play through adversity in this game should take this team far. Once again they were able to jump out to a lead, but as Stockton came roaring back to make it 3-2 about half-way through the third period, the Steelheads dug in their heels and grinded out a win against a team that was winning all the battles and had all the momentum going late in that game. It wasn’t pretty, but Idaho came out on top and perhaps are starting to reverse the trends of giving up leads to teams.
Speaking of ugly games, Saturday saw the last of game of the series degrade into a series of shoving matches and misconducts as over 170 penalty minutes were handed out. There was only one pair of fighting majors handed out the entire night. Of the all the penalties (33) there were 24 minor penalties handed out. From a Steelheads perspective the best part of the night was when Brock Montgomery gave the Steelheads a 1-0 lead in the first period which led to the yearly Teddy Bear Toss for the Toys for Tots program. After that, Stockton would score 3 unanswered and would do well enough to keep the Steelheads at arms-length for the rest of the game. Pat Nagle got tagged with the loss with 37 saves on 41 shots.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday of this week the Alaska Aces come to town. [Ed. Note: Wednesday's recap coming next week.] The Aces are a team that got off to an outstanding start but as of late have been sliding a bit. However they have won their last two and are 5-5 in the last ten games. A traditional rival always brings out the best in both of these teams, and it should be an entertaining series. The Steelheads are currently tied with Alaska in the standings and will once again be looking to win two out of three this week.
News and Notes
- As reported on Tuesday, Austin Smith has been recalled by the Dallas Stars and then loaned out overseas to Finland. Smith had one goal with the Steelheads this season.
- To fill the roster spot, the Steelheads have called up Mitchell Good from the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. Good has 9 goals and 10 assists with a plus 11 rating in first full professional hockey season.
- As mentioned earlier William Rapuzzi is out with an injury so the Steelheads also went out late last week and re-acquired Rob Linsmayer from the San Francisco Bulls in exchange for future considerations.
- Finally Taylor Vause was called up almost two weeks ago to Texas and Hubert Labrie was once again on a plane to Texas to meet up with the Stars, his third recall of the year.
- Mitch Wahl is currently on a 15 game point streak and only needs 1 point in Wednesday night’s game to tie the Steelheads record for point streaks.
- Ryan Button (currently in Texas) is now second amongst Steelheads defensemen in scoring after Patrick Cullity had an outstanding week. Cullity just move up to 13 points, 2 clear of Button who has 11.
- Finally the Steelheads have scored the first goal in 8 of their last 10 games and have gotten points out of 8 of those games as well including 6 wins.
Until next week (I promise)…