BOISE, ID – With the Utah Grizzlies up 4-3 in the third period, goaltender Sean Maguire went to clear the puck out from behind his own net. He probably did not anticipate an abrupt obstruction and deflection from Idaho’s Steven McParland. He also, most likely, did not expect the puck to bounce over the net to a wide-open Henrik Samuelsson.
Maguire had to get back in front of the net, and quick.
What resulted was an outstanding glove save rooted in reflex, instinct, and a whole lot of desperation. The late-game stop prevented Idaho from tying the game, and ultimately, saved the victory for the Grizzlies.
Such was the fate of the Idaho Steelheads, as the Grizzlies added an empty-net goal in the final two minutes of play to gain the victory over Idaho, 5-3. The Utah win spoiled what was otherwise a joyous night at CenturyLink Arena, with former Steelheads left winger Scott Burt having his number 12 retired during the first intermission. The loss also tarnished the first ECHL goal of Idaho forward Max French, who played 25 games with the AHL’s Texas Stars before rejoining the Steelheads roster on January 9th.
The back and forth play that often highlights Idaho vs. Utah match-ups was accentuated this evening. Both teams traded goals back and forth until the aforementioned empty-netter by Utah’s Brendan Harms placed the final nail in Idaho’s coffin at 18:44 of the third. McParland, French, and Cole Ully scored goals for the Steelheads, while Brad Navin, Austin Ortega, James Melindy, Alex Dostie rounded out the scoring crew for the Grizzlies.
Idaho goaltender Ryan Faragher was pushed into duty for the fifth game in a row this evening, with four starts and one relief effort for Philippe Desrosiers to his credit. Desrosiers was officially recalled to the Texas Stars earlier on Saturday, taking former Steelheads goalie Landon Bow’s spot after Bow was relegated to the NHL’s Dallas Stars in place of injured keeper Ben Bishop. The organizational goaltending shuffle put Faragher in the pipes against his former team, making 30 saves on 34 shots in the losing effort.
The Steelheads attack in the Grizzlies’ zone was evident from the first period into the late portions of the third, catching up with Utah in shots on goal and accumulating plenty of power play opportunities. Sadly, Idaho went an abysmal 0-for-8 on the man advantage, giving up two power play goals to Utah in the process. The final tally for shots on goal was: Idaho – 40, Utah – 35.
News of Note
The Steelheads will head to Loveland, Colorado to face the Colorado Eagles in a three-game road series beginning on February 7th. The Eagles will then head to Boise for another three-game series with Idaho, starting February 14th. The triad of three-game series’ in four weeks time will result in Idaho and Colorado facing off nine times in 25 days. The Eagles are currently first in the Mountain Division (and second in the ECHL) with 66 points through 45 games; The Steelheads are second in the Mountain Division with 56 points through 46 games. Wichita and Allen are tied for third with 53 points apiece, Tulsa is a close fifth with 48 points, Utah trails in sixth with 44 points, and Rapid City is tied for last in the ECHL as they round out the bottom of the Mountain Division with 32 points.