After a thrilling end to Game Two, where ECHL Defenseman of the Year Matt Register tied the series at a game a piece with the overtime winner, the Colorado Eagles and Idaho Steelheads were back at it at the Century Link Arena for Game Three.
Colorado would open the scoring just over halfway through the opening frame. Eagles forward Alex Belzile would force a turnover behind the Steelheads net and feed Shawn St-Amant in front who beat Idaho netminder Landon Bow to give the visitors the 1-0 lead. Idaho would strike back on the power play as Jefferson Dahl replicated his Game One tally with an absolute laser that beat Eagles goalie Lukas Hafner over the shoulder. In the closing minute of the period, Casey Pierro-Zabotel would win a footrace to the back post and tap in a feed from Ryan Harrison for a shorthanded goal to put Colorado up 2-1 after 20 minutes of play.
The Eagles would double their lead as a shot from Johnny Lazo was kicked out by Bow, but Julien Nantel was there to bury the rebound to make it 3-1 Eagles. Once again, Idaho would fight back, and once again on the power play. Rob Linsmayer drew two Eagles defenders to him at the blue line and slipped a pass to Kellan Lain coming down the slot. Lain’s wrister went bar down to cut the Eagles lead to 3-2. The physicality would continue in this series as Colorado’s Darryl Bootland leveled Aaron Harstad at the Idaho blue line. Charlie Dodero would step up for his teammate and drop the gloves with Bootland, which would lead to injuries to both players, though both would eventually return. Things got ugly late in the period as Eagles defenseman Sean Zimmerman drove the head of Dahl into the glass, leaving the Steelheads without the leading scorer from the regular season for the remainder of the game. Zimmerman would only get a minor penalty on the play, but could be handed additional discipline from the league. Colorado would eventually kill off the penalty to Zimmerman and get a power play of their own in the final minute. Register would find Belzile who ripped a one-timer past Bow with less than a second on the clock to extend Colorado’s lead to 4-2 heading into the third period.
Though not tested often, Idaho only registered 21 shots on goal, Hafner made a few brilliant stops in the third period, including robbing Anthony Luciani with the left pad at the back post on what looked to be a sure goal for Idaho. Despite the Steelheads exhaustive efforts, Colorado clamped down defensively throughout the final period and held on for the 4-2 win.
Colorado now leads the best of seven series 2-1. Game Four is Friday night in Idaho.
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