Idaho Steelheads Report: Steelies Fight Back to Even Series at 2

(Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
John Mulhern reports on Game 4 of the Steelheads opening round playoff series against Allen...

The Idaho Steelheads got a two goal effort from Kyle Jean and a game winning goal from Joe Basaraba to win game four 3-1 and level the Western Conference Quarterfinal series at two games apiece. Jean’s first goal came shorthanded after Andrew Carroll was able to chase down a loose puck at center after an Allen faceoff win. Gill would make the initial save on Carroll, but Jean would bury the rebound for the 1-0 lead. As has been the trend in this series, first team to score wins and tonight was no exception.

Allen would tie the game on an outstanding Tristan King deflection late in the second, but Idaho would respond in the third with two more goals to win game four. First was a laser by Basaraba through an Americans screen followed up by Jean’s second goal into an empty net late in the game.

Three Thoughts

  1. Special teams once again have an impact. In a game where neither team was able to score with the man advantage, it continues to impact the series. Idaho’s first goal came shorthanded, so there is a direct impact on the game, but more importantly the teams were a combined for an 0-9 with the man advantage. Again, no perceived impact, but when you look at the fact that both teams were so effective with the power play for the first three games, the fact that each teams penalty kill kept the power plays off the board is worth a note.
  2. Goaltenders played well once again. Philippe Desrosiers made 29 saves on 30 shots and Riley Gill made 26 saves on 28 shots. In game three, the quality of shots were packed into small bursts by each team, but in game four the quality of shots were spread throughout the entire game, making the timing of a lot of the saves during the game even more important. In the first little bit of a goaltenders dual of the series, both Desrosiers and Gill made some outstanding saves to keep the game scoreless in the first period. Even a broader look at all four goals in the game, there wasn’t a whole lot that either goalie could ultimately do to stop the shot from going in. Each player was on their game tonight and it only added to the playoff atmosphere.
  3. Pointing out the obvious, game five on Saturday is going to be hugely important. A reminder that the series is a 2-3-2 format, so Idaho’s last home game of the series is Saturday night. Game six is guaranteed to occur down in Allen on Tuesday night, and with a possible game seven set for Wednesday night, I just have this feeling that Idaho really needs to go back to Texas holding a 3-2 series lead to have a realistic chance to win the series. These teams continue to split games this year, and for either team to have to win two games next week will be a monumental task.

See below for the “Live Blog” of game four.

First Period

After 20 minutes of play there is no score between the Allen Americans and the Idaho Steelheads. After having a disastrous first period on Wednesday night, the Steelheads came out carrying the momentum they gained in the third period in game three.

In that period they found a physical edge to their forecheck and were able to create some chances. Tonight, that same forecheck has also led to some good opportunities as well, as once again they found the post on a Radoslav Illo shot coming down the slot about halfway through the frame.

Goaltender Riley Gill was once again solid in net for the Americans stopping all 10 shots he faced in the period. Philippe Desrosiers came up with a couple of ten-bell saves himself as he had to stare down Chad Costello, before Costello dished the puck off to David Makowski, but Desrosiers was able to move left to right and make an outstanding stop to keep the game scoreless.

Idaho ended the first period with 9 shots to Allen’s 10. Neither team was able to score on the power play either. On to the second period.

Second Period

Special teams once again play a role in the game’s first goal tonight. Idaho took an early penalty in the period, but off the ensuing defensive zone faceoff, the Americans won the puck all the way out of their zone and Andrew Carroll was able to find another gear to catch up with it and get a shot on Gill that he was able to turn aside. However, the rebound ended up coming out into the high slot area and with the Americans trying to find the loose puck, Kyle Jean followed up on the rebound and buried past a recovering Gill. Just 0:50 into the period, Idaho was able to take a 1-0 lead.

The trend in the first three games has been that the first team that scores, and then they end up extending out into a 2-0 lead. Tonight would not follow that trend. As the second period continued to play out, Allen was able to find their legs and start gaining speed through the neutral zone.

At the 16:53 mark of the second Tristan King put Allen on the board and send the teams to the intermission tied at one.

Credit to both Desrosiers and Gill and both goaltenders had to make some spectacular saves during that frame. Gill having to make most of his in the first half of the period and Desrosiers making his in the second half. Shots in the period; Allen had 14 for a game total of 24 and Idaho had eight for a game total of 17.

Should be a good third period. Something I’m going to keep an eye on is can the Steelheads find a little bit of the energy they seemed to be lacking at times late in the period. Should be a good period.

Third Period

That was a fun period of hockey as well as a highly stressful period. Going into the final period tied at one was not ideal especially since Allen tied the game up late in the second, but Joe Basaraba relieved a little pressure for the Steelheads as just 1:11 into the period, he took a pass from Carson McMilian and using an Americans player as a screen, was able to fire a laser of a wrist shot past Gill to give Idaho a 2-1 lead.

Allen continued to apply pressure, but Idaho did an outstanding job of blocking and deflecting shots away from the front of the net. Allen was only able to manage six shots on goal in the final period according to the final scoresheet. Them seems a is a tad low to me based on some of the offensive zone time Allen had, but I’ve been known to be wrong before.

Either way, this third period was exactly what Idaho needed to come through and win the game. Get an early goal, and just clog up the neutral zone as much as possible to keep the Americans from attacking with speed into the offensive zone.

Once Allen pulled Gill for the extra attacker (ultimately getting a six on four due to a delay of game penalty), Jean was able to give Idaho some breathing room with an empty net goal after McMilian was able to locate a puck that just made it out to center ice after a very high flip off the glass by Andrew Carroll at the 18:35 mark of the period.

In the period Idaho had 12 shots for a game total of 29, while Allen had six for a game total of 30. On to game five Saturday night, with the series lead once again on the line.

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.