|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
The Allen Americans got a pair of power play goals and another solid night in net from Riley Gill, and defeated the Idaho Steelheads by a score of 3-1 to take a two games to one lead in the ECHL Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Special teams continue to have an enormous impact on the series. Of the four goals scored tonight, three of them came with a team on the power play and the fourth goal came during a period of four on four play. A bit of an interesting note, of the 12 goals scored in this series, seven of them have been scored outside of five on five play.
This next thought builds off of the special teams thought above. The Steelheads have to stay out of the penalty box. Of course that is real easy for me to sit here and say that. At the end of the day, there is only so much that is within the players control. But when you look at the fact that the Steelheads were only shorthanded three times in the game, and Allen was able to score twice, it continues to remain a point of emphasis.
Goaltending continues to play a big role. Desrosiers made 27 saves on 30 shots and there were a bunch of outstanding saves he made during the course of the game allow the Steelheads a chance to comeback. Gill for Allen also had a strong game in net. He was able to make 37 saves on 38 shots and also have some real nice saves to keep Idaho off the board. Going forward it’s going to be interesting to see how these goaltenders continue to influence games through freezing the puck, playing the puck and rebound control.
As I have done in the past for Idaho Steelheads home games, I give my initial reactions from last night’s game immediately after each period. With that in mind, enjoy the “live blog” below.
Well that was an interesting first period of play. The Idaho Steelheads and the Allen Americans started game 3 last night at Century Link Arena in Boise, and after the initial couple of minutes of pressure from the Steelheads, the Americans turned things around and went on to control the last 17 minutes of the first period.
After a pair of matching minors, the teams would skate four on four and it was there that Greger Hanson would get the first goal of the game just 4:44 into the period to give the Americans the 1-0 lead.
Starting with those two minutes of four on four, the Americans would just pepper the Steelheads net to a total of 17 shots in the first period. More than a handful were from right around the crease are. You know that game the back-up goaltender plays at the end of warmups where the players try to score from in close? Picture that, but during the actual game.
Philippe Desrosiers would stand tall making a total of 15 saves in the period. The only other shot that was able to find a way through was a power play marker by David Makowski at the 16:59 mark of the period.
The Steelheads were able to manage just seven shots in the period and had a couple of nice chances just slide by goaltender Riley Gill. Still 40 minutes left in the game, but the Steelheads are going to have to turn things around in the second to give themselves a chance.
Much better period for the Steelheads here in game three tonight. The biggest sign of improvement is that they were able to get a nice power play goal from Tommy Fallen off a Carson McMillan faceoff win to make it 2-1 just 4:28 into the second period.
All in all in the period, the Steelheads managed a total of 18 shots and hit a couple of posts for their troubles as well. The chances were there, the turnovers were coming, it came down to Gill just making the saves and getting some help from the posts.
Even though it was a better period for the Steelheads, the Americans power play also struck (to go two for two on the night) to re-establish their 2-goal lead at the 11:44 mark of the period. Matt Register got his first of the playoffs and with Gary Steffes standing in front of Desrosiers, he never had a chance to see the shot coming.
Heading into the third period, the task is pretty clear for Idaho. Get two goals to equalize and try to extend the game. If the Steelheads can continue to apply the type of pressure they were able to muster in the second period for another 20 minutes, I like their chances to get this back to a level game.
The effort was there in the third period for the Steelheads, but so was Gill for the Americans, as well as the posts yet again. Idaho was able to muster 13 shots on net not including two more shots off the iron, and with the Americans leaning towards a more defensive posture, Idaho was unable to get anything into the back of the net. The Americans take game three tonight to take a two games to one lead in this first round match-up.
To be fair to Allen, they didn’t just sit back in the period at all, they actually were able to control a good amount of the first 10 minutes of the period. Of the eight shots Allen had, there were some outstanding chances for them to extend the lead beyond two goals. A couple of them came while the Steelheads were activating defensemen into the offensive zone. Desrosiers continued his strong play during the game, making some great saves, including a breakaway stop towards the midway point of the frame.
At the end of 60 minutes, it just wasn’t enough for Idaho, as ultimately the Americans power play was just too much to overcome on the night.
Game four is set for Friday night in Boise at 7:10pm. You can listen on 1350am KTIK, watch on ECHL.TV or Cable One channel 72 if you live in the Boise area.
John Mulhern is the host of the Bud Light Idaho Steelheads Hockey show on 1350 AM KTIK in Boise. He is the home game ice-level color analyst for the Steelheads and also hosts his own Two Sports Nuts podcast. You can also follow John on Twitter @mulhern4.