BOISE, Idaho – After a combined ten infractions and 26 penalty minutes Wednesday night, the Allen Americans and Idaho Steelheads were primed to have a much more eventful affair Friday night when it came to both PIMs on the stat sheet and scraps between skaters.

The anticipatory atmosphere manifested into mayhem, as the Americans and Steelheads totaled 25 infractions and 127 penalty minutes between themselves in a thrilling 3-2 Idaho overtime victory. Allen defensemen Curt Gogol and Alex Breton scored goals for the Americans in the first and third periods, respectively, while Idaho skaters Brady Norrish and Elgin Pearce tallied scores in the second period. Steve McParland ended the game with a sudden-victory overtime strike, earning his second game-winning goal in five games.

“There were a lot of things that took away from the game tonight,” lamented Idaho Head Coach Neil Graham. “There were a lot of extra-curriculars, which I’m proud that our guys stood up for themselves, but at the end of the day, we want to play hockey. In the second period, there was some pretty good pace and o-zone time. It’s one you’ve got to grit through a little bit — with both teams running six forwards and four or five defensemen, there were a lot of mistakes in the third. We had to manage the puck especially well in the third to limit some of those tired mistakes.”

Coach Graham on a chaotic second period sandwiched between a more controlled first and third

The first period started off innocuous enough, with hard-nosed defense on both sides yielding no shots on goal for close to the first five minutes of gameplay. That all changed when Allen blitzed into Idaho’s zone, rushing Steelheads netminder Tomas Sholl with an offensive charge that resulted in Americans d-man Dalton Thrower centering the puck to a waiting Gogol for the tap-in at 4:58.

Then, things began to escalate. Idaho’s Keegan Kanzig and Allen’s Jacob Doty engaged in fisticuffs shortly after the Gogol goal at 6:19 of the first, with Kanzig getting three good shots in before Doty evened things up with return punches. The back-and-forth affair ended with Kanzig slipping to the ice and the refs stepping in.

Idaho left winger Kale Kessy then aimed to eliminate Gogol as an irritant to his fellow Steelheads skaters, dropping one glove in a challenge, but to no avail. Kessy then pursued Gogol to Sholl’s crease, where he proceeded to drop his remaining glove and bludgeon the former Orlando Solar Bears d-man. After both men were on their skates again, Gogol then swiped at Kessy in passing, re-igniting the fight with mutual combat before refs intervened. Kessy was ejected for the initially one-sided mauling, earning a fighting major, aggressor game misconduct, and continuing altercation game misconduct for a total of 25 penalty minutes on the night.

Even with the two fights in the first, it was the second segment of play that yielded the most hostility between the two Mountain Division foes. Before things came to a head, though, Idaho wedged their way back into the game. Things started out in the first minute of period two, when forward Mitch Moroz came down the right wing side in Allen’s zone before hitting a progressing Norrish in stride. Norrish then wristed a shot by Americans goaltender C.J. Motte, getting Idaho on the board just 55 seconds into the second.

Five and a half minutes later, the Steelies took their first lead of the game on an Elgin Pearce tally. The goal came off of a shot from Idaho defender Clint Lewis from the left side of Motte, which was then redirected in by Pearce at 6:33 of the middle regulation frame. Pearce netted his fifth goal of the year and his second in three games, giving him 14 total points on the season in 25 games played.

Tempers flared yet again around the midway point of period number two, with a scrum along the Americans blue line leading to an all-out line brawl at 11:28. Idaho’s Moroz and Allen forward Zach Pochiro began the altercation with a scrum that resulted in roughing minors for both skaters. A vicious cross-check by Americans forward Emerson Clark on an unsuspecting Steelheads captain A.J. White led to Kanzig stepping in to fight yet again, this time with Gogol. Gloves and sticks were strewn across the ice, as many other skaters tied up with one another. After a good ten minutes of the referee and two linesmen separating players and doling out penalties, the game resumed, only to be stopped again at 12:45 by a roughing scrap between Idaho’s Pearce and Allen forward Chase Lang. Both players received misconducts and sat out the remainder of the second period.

Things settled down immensely after a spirited second, with the third period only producing one minor penalty per team. An Americans goal came in the form of a Breton wrist shot, when forward Dante Salituro found the defenseman all by himself in the left faceoff circle for the score at 5:50 of the last regulation stanza to tie the game, 2-2. Motte and Sholl both stood tall in their nets for the remainder of period three, with Allen producing 11 shots on goal to Idaho’s 15 before heading into a decisive overtime frame.

The first three minutes of extra gameplay had both teams with three shots on goal apiece before McParland picked the pocket of Allen defenseman Josh Atkinson at center ice along the team benches. The four-year ECHL veteran then sped towards Motte on a breakaway, shifting from backhand to forehand for a chance that Motte laid out to deny. McParland then put a backhand high into the available goal netting to end the game and earn Idaho a hard-fought second point at 3:17 of OT.

A LOT OF MOTTE

After an eight-game losing streak in December put the Allen Americans at 6-23-2 on the year, it took a 4-3 shootout win on December 21 against Central Division powerhouse Cincinnati to turn their fortunes around. Allen has won seven of their last twelve games since, laying the goaltending load on C.J. Motte for 13 games straight. Motte has gone 7-6-0 in those 13 consecutive games, with a 2.85 GAA and a 0.910 save percentage in that stretch. Motte saved 42 of 45 Idaho shots on goal in the 3-2 overtime loss Friday night.

POINTS IN THE KEY OF STEVE

Steve “Stevie Wonder” McParland has been on a point-scoring tear since returning from a four-game stint with AHL San Diego. In the past five games, McParland has three goals and three assists for six points total. And, as previously mentioned, two of those three goals were game-winning tallies: once against Toledo on January 9, and again Friday night versus Allen. He also scored the go-ahead shootout goal in a 4-3 shootout victory over Toledo on January 11.

McParland on how he recovered from his goal-tying mistake with his teammates in mind

Idaho forward Steve McParland celebrates his game-winning overtime goal Friday night, capping a 3-2 victory against the Allen Americans. Photo Credit: Noah Saucerman Pitts / The Sin Bin
SHOLL SURVIVOR

Another game, another 27-save effort from the netminder known as “Sholly the Goalie”. However, while Sholl’s 27 saves on 30 shots on goal was not enough in a 3-2 loss against Allen Wednesday night, his 27 saves on 29 shots on net Friday night versus the Americans earned him a 3-2 overtime victory, his 15th of the year. Sholl has a busy weekend ahead of him, as he heads to the 2019 ECHL/CCM All-Star Classic after a two-game weekend with the Steelheads.

“I’m really excited to get over there,” Sholl commented on Toledo. “I’m leaving Sunday morning after the game on Saturday. Unfortunately, we have a game on Monday, which I’m going to have to miss. I don’t know who scheduled that, but it is what it is. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Allen and Idaho will play the rubber match to determine the three-game series winner on Saturday night, starting at 7:10pm MT.

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