BOISE, Idaho – Howdy folks! C.C. Hawkley back at it again with another weekly opinion piece, thusly entitled “Friday Thoughts” to appeal to those who encourage free thought. In this installment, I’m going to talk about the Idaho Steelheads’ regulation woes, one-goal games, forward firepower, and a random assortment of whatever else you might find interesting. Let’s get to it!
Time to Regulate
It took Idaho 306:56 of regulation gameplay before getting their first lead of standard time in 2018-19. Doing the math, that’s five FULL games and a small chunk out of game number six before Idaho led in regulation. Thank the heavens for Steve McParland and his goal at 6:56 of the first period this past Friday night against Utah. Who else but the man they call “Stevie Wonder” to get the Steelheads over a hump like that.
Okay, so now that the whole “haven’t led in regulation yet” thing is off of the Steelheads back, how about all these one-goal games Idaho has found themselves in? The first six games of this season, the Steelies have either won or loss by a margin of just one goal. That in and of itself is a testament to how close Idaho can keep games, but paired with having to come back from being down 2-0 in four of the first five games (and 3-1 in that fifth one), it was a bit unnerving for fans to endure the cardiac kids that were the Idaho Steelheads.
Thankfully, Idaho broke a six-game, one-goal deficit habit by putting up five goals at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Tuesday night, defeating the Indy Fuel 5-2. After falling behind 1-0 for the majority of the first period, forward Brad McClure remedied that by putting Idaho on the board at 17:51 of the opening frame. McClure added his second goal of the game in a barrage of second period goals…four in 4:21, to be exact…that netted defensemen Clint Lewis and Jeff King their first tallies of the season and notched forward Spencer Naas his third of the year.
Idaho’s wingers and centermen are finding their footing and showcasing their scoring acumen heading into their weekend set with Toledo (Friday and Saturday) and Kalamazoo (Sunday). Here are some of the leading scorers in Idaho’s forward corps as of November 1:
The most intriguing stat I noticed from the five skaters highlighted was Justin Parizek’s six helpers. Parizek tallied 27 goals and 33 assists last year, establishing a more steady goal-to-assist ratio than what he’s had so far this year. His ability as a playmaker this season is truly shining, with other talent stepping to the forefront to help out with goal scoring as Parizek feeds them the puck. The role seems more suited for Justin…at least according to the stat sheet.
Random News of Note
Idaho netminder Ryan Faragher was loaned to AHL Stockton on October 27, bringing Idaho’s goalie count back down to two in Philippe Desrosiers and Tomas Sholl. That looks to bump back up to three rostered goaltenders yet again, as Faragher was released from his tryout on November 1. With Faragher absent for four days, Sholl made his season debut in a win against Indy. “Sholly” allowed three goals and accrued a .919 save percentage from 34 saves on 37 shots. Desrosiers is 2-2-1 in five games played this season, with a 2.52 GAA and…a .919 save percentage. Weird, eh?
Jeff King is still tied for second in the league amongst defensemen with a plus-seven rating (split between Fort Wayne and Idaho). Rookie sensation Brady Norrish leads all Idaho d-men with four goals and six points total, while Eric Sweetman has started off in a bit of a sophomore slump (one assist, minus-seven rating in eight games played). Sweetman’s defensive partner, Clint Lewis, has one goal and a plus-one in seven games played, perhaps pointing to mismatched d-pairings and special teams miscues contributing to Sweetman’s low plus/minus rating.
Idaho (4-3-1) is tied for second in the Mountain Division standings, with nine points after eight games played. They face a tough challenge this weekend against the Central Division-leading Toledo Walleye (5-1-1), facing off against divisional foes from last year (former Colorado Eagles players Matt Register & Ben Storm and Allen Americans forward Bryan Moore). The Steelies will finish the weekend on Sunday against the Kalamazoo Wings, led in net by former Tulsa goaltender Jake Hildebrand.