BOISE, Idaho – Over 2,500 miles separate Jacksonville, Florida and Boise, Idaho. If you’re willing to brave a 36-hour drive (or a full day’s docket of flights), you can make the long-distance trek between the two cities. The Jacksonville Icemen decided to do that – just for a weekend set with the Idaho Steelheads. With the sunny shores of Florida left behind, the Icemen came to the chilly climate of the Treasure Valley to face off against the Steelheads Friday night.
Home-ice advantage, Idaho.
In the Steelheads’ first game ever against the Icemen, Idaho and Jacksonville were knotted at one goal apiece for a good portion before the Steelies surged ahead with a three-goal third period to take the victory handily by a score of 4-1. Idaho forward Tony Calderone scored his first ECHL goal, and had his third point in two games, while fellow forwards Reid Petryk and A.J. White added the go-ahead and insurance markers, respectively, in the eventful final frame. After Jacksonville Head Coach Jason Christie pulled goaltender Ken Appleby at around three minutes left in regulation, Steelheads d-man Nolan Gluchowski potted an empty-netter from the center line at 17:40, sealing the Icemen’s fate in their first trip to Boise.
“I really like the way we came out in the third,” Idaho Head Coach Neil Graham stated. “There was a bit of a feeling out process in the first, and then we got going in the second…they had a couple power plays…we were going to need a push to find our energy again for the third, and I thought that’s exactly what we did. I’m happy with how we came out there to finish the job.”
Jacksonville opened up the scoring after a back-and-forth first period. Both squads had tallied five shots on goal apiece before Icemen captain Garet Hunt found himself set up by wingman Eli Lichtenwald to the left of Idaho netminder Tomas Sholl. Hunt then easily lifted the puck over Sholl’s leg pad to make it 1-0 Jacksonville at 10:29 of the starting frame. The Icemen’s lead lasted only a bit over seven minutes, though, as the aforementioned Calderone slammed home a rebound off of a Kale Kessy shot that a back-sliding Appleby couldn’t defend against.
Calderone on his first ECHL goal: “I’ve had a bunch of chances this season, so it was good for that first one to go in. Kessy made a great play, shot it on net…both Kessy and White on that 2-on-1 made a great play. I was going to the net hard and it was greasy, but they all count.”
After a fairly uneventful second period (minus two Idaho penalties and Jacksonville catching up on the shot sheet), it was full speed ahead for the Steelheads in the third. Four of Jacksonville’s six minor penalties came in the final frame of regulation, with Idaho’s Colton Saucerman setting up Petryk for a one-timer, power-play goal for his third tally of the year at 7:32. Steelheads captain White, after blocking a shot and gimping off the ice around the midway mark of the period, returned just a few minutes later to rebound and score on a failed Steve McParland wraparound attempt. The fourth and final goal (after the early goalie pull by the Icemen) netted Gluchowski his third goal of the year, his second in as many games.
NEWS OF NOTE
Idaho limited Jacksonville to single-digit shots on goal in all three periods (six, nine, and six), with Sholl turning aside 20 of 21 shots for Idaho in his fifth victory of the year. The 21 shots on goal against is the fewest amount of shots allowed by Idaho this season thus far. Sholl moves to 5-3-0 on the year, boasting a stellar 1.89 goals against average on 15 goals allowed.
Jacksonville forward Hunt, who scored the only goal for the Icemen Friday night, was heckled relentlessly by fans seated near the penalty box, with certain members of the crowd yelling “Hunnnnttt!” every time he touched the puck. Reason being? Hunt played for former Western Conference foe Stockton Thunder for seven seasons before joining Idaho’s arch nemesis, the Alaska Aces, for their last two seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17. This was Hunt’s first game back in Boise since January 7, 2017.
The Steelheads have turned things around heading into the final month of 2018. At the beginning of November, Idaho had dropped six of seven games to the likes of Toledo, Kalamazoo, Tulsa, and Rapid City. Now, to finish out the month, the Steelies have taken five of the last six, tying Kansas City for third in the Mountain Division with 23 points. The Steelheads will host the Mavericks in Boise for a three-game set on December 12, 14, and 15.
POST-GAME INTERVIEW CLIPS
Head Coach Neil Graham on Idaho’s Penalty Kill and Facing Eastern Conference Foes
Steelheads Forward Tony Calderone on His Chemistry with His Fellow Forwards
Idaho Left Winger Reid Petryk on What Unit is Gelling the Most for the Steelies