BOISE, ID – Charlie Dodero is not a scoring defenseman. The Bloomington, IL native has tallied just 17 goals over five seasons of professional hockey in the ECHL and AHL, with 14 coming in four seasons as a member of the Idaho Steelheads. It would be more common to see him lead the team in hits rather than points on any given night.
Wednesday night, however, was a pleasant exception.
The Rapid City Rush came into Boise statistically eliminated from the Kelly Cup Playoffs, rounding out last place in the Mountain Division with 47 points. In spite of this, Rapid City pushed Idaho to a scoreless game well into the third period, until the aforementioned Dodero netted the sole regulation goal for Idaho with less than five minutes left in the third period.
As Alec Baer capitalized for the Rush just two and a half minutes later, the game went to overtime, and eventually a shootout. With Baer scoring again in Round 1 for Rapid City and Justin Parizek scoring in Round 3 for Idaho, it was Dodero who netted another unlikely goal in Round 5 to win the game and give the Steelheads a 2-1 shootout victory.
“I just found myself in the right place at the right time for the goal there in regulation,” Dodero reflected. “The goalie (Adam Vay) played a really good game tonight. He covers up a lot of net, so (in the shootout) you kind of have to out-wait him. JP (Justin Parizek) usually goes with that move – waiting the goalie out – but I’ve had that in the bank for a little while, too. He gave me a shot, and the rest is history.”
The first period began with Idaho moving the puck well, but struggling to get shots on net and committing costly turnovers. After a breakaway chance by Rapid City’s Jack Walker at approximately 6:20 of the first, the Steelheads ramped up their physicality, re-igniting the shot-heavy offense they’ve been known for all season. Idaho finished with 18 shots on the period, while the Rush mustered just five.
Period number two brought more of the same from the Steelheads, firing the puck on net with almost every player imaginable. Cole Ully, Shane Hanna, Steven McParland, Aaron Harstad, Corbin Baldwin, Will Merchant, and Dodero all registered shots on goal in the second frame. Vay continued to stand tall and flash the glove often, saving another 16 shots in the second en route to 49 for the evening. Even with two power play advantages for the Rush, Rapid City again could only put five shots on goal for the period.
The heightened pace of play continued for Idaho going into the third act of regulation, highlighted by a shot off the post at 1:30 and a 2-on-1 opportunity for Connor Chatham and A.J. White at 2:50. Unfortunately, the Steelheads also allowed Rapid City to step up with some quality chances on goaltender Tomas Sholl, relaxing on defense to the point of the Rush outshooting Idaho 16-11 in the third.
A scrum in the Rush’s right-wing corner between Idaho’s Cole Ully and Rapid City’s Gustav Bouramman led to cross-checking and slashing minors, respectively, at 15:11 of the third. The ensuing face off in Rapid City’s zone was taken behind the net by Rush defenseman Ian Brady, who coughed up the puck when pursued by Idaho’s Connor Chatham. Chatham flicked the puck out in front of Vay, with A.J. White getting his stick on a deflection straight to Charlie Dodero between the faceoff circles. Dodero then lifted a wrister past Vay’s right leg pad, sheathing his stick to celebrate his fourth goal of the year at 15:18 of the third.
Unfortunately, Dodero’s happiness would be short-lived, as the d-man was called for Holding the Stick at 16:07 of the third to put the Rush on the power play. Out of the penalty box now, Bouramman put a shot on net with 15 seconds remaining on the man-advantage. With Sholl down and out of position, Alec Baer put a shot high and into the net at 17:50 of the third to tie the game at one apiece.
The Steelheads went to overtime for the 16th time this season, taking four shots on goal and controlling the puck for most of the extra frame. As previously stated, Baer had one tally for Rapid City, while Parizek and Dodero netted their chances during the ensuing five-round shootout. With the win, Idaho’s shootout record on the year improved to 7-3.
News of Note:
Idaho goaltender Tomas Sholl was again named ECHL Goaltender of the Week this past Tuesday, as the Bowling Green product received the nod for the week of March 12-18. This is the second consecutive week Sholl has been given the honor, the first Steelheads netminder to receive back-to-back awards since Jack Campbell in January 2016. The win on Wednesday brought his Steelheads record to 4-0-1 since joining the team on March 1, with a 0.76 GAA and .972 save percentage during that span.
The Steelheads peppered the Rush with 50 shots on goal this evening, with Dodero’s goal being the 45th shot on net for Idaho. Steven McParland led the team with seven shots on net, as he closes in on 30 goals for the year with a team-leading 28. The only players who didn’t record a shot on goal for Idaho were forward Michael Neville and defenseman Zach Bell.
Idaho’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is two. The Steelheads can clinch with a victory on Friday night against the Rush and a Tulsa Oilers regulation loss to Quad City. When they clinch, it will be the 21st season in a row that the Steelheads have made the postseason, which will continue their record for the longest current playoff streak at any level of professional hockey.