BOISE, ID – Last week, the ECHL released its roster for the 2018 ECHL All-Star Classic on this coming Monday. Included on that roster is Idaho Steelheads rookie forward Justin Parizek. One might be tempted to think Parizek would take it easy and rest on his laurels before taking in the all-star activities.
Parizek set the tone for Idaho by scoring first against the Kalamazoo Wings Wednesday night, sparking six unanswered goals by the Steelheads and giving Idaho plenty of padding to earn a 6-2 victory. Idaho netminder Philippe Desrosiers recorded his 15th win of the season, stopping 20 out of 22 shots for the night. Alexander Dahl, Eric Sweetman, Cole Ully, and Cody Corbett also added goals for the Steelheads in the winning effort.
The first line duo of Parizek and Steven McParland was bolstered by rookie Max French, who was reassigned to Idaho by the AHL’s Texas Stars on Tuesday. French garnered a rating of plus-1 in his return, with no shots on goal and no points scored. His only other outing for Idaho was on October 13th in the Steelheads’ home opener against Norfolk; he peppered the Admirals with nine shots on goal in the 4-2 victory.
Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham attributes the plug-and-play success of the Steelheads to the concerted effort given in the player selection process.
“We recruited guys that we thought could play within our structure well,” Graham commented. “You were seeing them do that in a game like tonight. We actually had some small tweaks in our structure that we implemented in all three zones, based on what Kalamazoo does in their game, and I thought our guys…for a real short turnaround and short notice…adjusted well, executed our game plan very well, and were rewarded for it.”
A combination of Idaho dominating the attack zone and Kalamazoo turning the puck over set the tone early in the game. Idaho’s second forward line of Jefferson Dahl, Henrik Samuelsson, and Cole Ully started the game with a quick Dahl shot and Samuelsson deflection attempt toward Kalamazoo goalie Michael Garteig. The first line forwards (French, Parizek, and McParland) then came in relief, leading to the aforementioned Parizek wrister that was placed top shelf past Garteig at 4:11 of the first.
Halfway through the first period, Kalamazoo had both a 4-on-2 offensive opportunity and ample attack zone time. The former ended abruptly with an errant pass behind a driving Wings player, while the extended time in Idaho’s zone didn’t even generate a shot on goal. After Idaho procured the puck and took it the length of the ice, all it took was two minutes for the Steelheads to score their second goal of the night. Connor Chatham blasted a shot on net that was turned aside by Garteig to a waiting Alexander Dahl. Dahl collected the rebound and tucked his shot five-hole on Garteig, netting his second goal of the season and Idaho’s second of the night at 15:52 of the first.
The second period started off with a bang as Idaho scored not even 30 seconds in. Jefferson Dahl skated the puck down the right side into Kalamazoo territory, dropping a pass back to Ully after encountering defensive resistance from the Wings. Ully found a wide open Sweetman on the left wing, who wristed home his first ever professional goal to make it 3-0, Idaho.
Sweetman’s play-by-play call concerning his first pro goal was, naturally, short and sweet.
“It was a good out,” he stated. “Then, I just joined the play, and they found me through the seam. It was good to get the momentum early in the second.”
Idaho didn’t relent on the pressure, continuing the attack immediately after the Sweetman goal. After Kalamazoo’s Mackenze Stewart turned the puck over deep in the Wings territory, Ully deked Garteig on a forehand to backhand transition that ended in a goal and put Idaho up by four at 5:28 in the second. Frustration reared its ugly head for Kalamazoo, as Aaron Irving plastered Joe Faust into the Plexiglas, rightfully receiving a boarding minor for his hit. Corbett took offense to Irving, jumping the Wings d-man as both men dropped their gloves. Oddly, no five-minute fighting majors were given out, as both men were sent to the penalty box with roughing minors at 6:08 in the second.
About seven and a half minutes later, tempers flared yet again as Kalamazoo’s captain Ben Wilson tangled with Idaho’s Zach Bell. Bell towered over Wilson as he bludgeoned the seven-year veteran with punches, slowly wearing the defenseman down to the ice with heavy right hands. Each man received proper five-minute majors at 13:32 of the second. Two Kalamazoo penalties at 16:23 and 17:26 of the second resulted in a 5-on-3 Idaho power play opportunity, but the Steelheads could not capitalize with goal number five as the period drew to a close.
Fans were treated with a case of déjà vu in the third when Ully yet again found himself one-on-one with Garteig, this time on a breakaway. Ully’s second goal of the night registered as the fifth tally for Idaho at 0:20 of the third period. The Steelheads stepped on the gas and did not relieve the pressure after Ully’s score. Will Merchant collected a Charlie Dodero shot wide off the boards, dumping it off to Cody Corbett in front of Garteig. Corbett shifted to a backhand shot as he was falling, tucking in goal number six past the Wings’ six-foot-one goaltender at 3:24 of the third. Kalamazoo’s only two goals (Eric Kattelus at 8:14 and Ben Wilson at 10:23) were too little too late in the final frame as Idaho picked up its 21st victory of the year.
News of Note:
Idaho announced earlier on Wednesday that the team would be retiring Scott Burt’s #12 on Saturday, February 3rd during the first intermission of their game against the Utah Grizzlies. Burt was integral on both the 2004 and 2007 Kelly Cup Championship teams, totaling 403 regular season games while landing at third on the all-time Steelheads scoring list in goals (111) and points (250). He will join Cal Ingraham (#22), Jeremy Mylymok (#4), and Marty Flichel (#16) as the only other Steelheads players to have their numbers retired by the franchise.
Steelheads broadcaster Brian McCormack will be apart of the broadcast team for the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic in Indianapolis on Monday. McCormack will join Cincinnati Cyclones announcer Everett Fitzhugh and NHL Network analyst Neil Smith in rounding out the broadcast group for the event. The Sin Bin will have coverage of the ECHL’s signature mid-season event, beginning with a live edition of the In the Corners podcast from FanFest, starting Sunday at 3 pm MT on The Sin Bin app!