BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads have been the talk of the ECHL these past few days.
The comeback narrative has been thoroughly covered since the team’s first-round game 7 victory against the Allen Americans on Wednesday night. Down 0-3 to Allen heading into game 4 on April 20, Idaho put together four victories in six days to complete only the second “reverse sweep” in ECHL playoff history.
Now, for the first time since 2014, the Steelheads find themselves in the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, this time facing off against the Mountain Division’s number one seed, the Colorado Eagles.
The Steelheads and Eagles will meet in the postseason for the first time in the second round and the fourth time overall. Idaho holds the all-time series advantage, 2-1.
Final Regular Season Records
Colorado Eagles: 48-18-4-2, 102 points (Mountain Division champs, 2nd in Western Conf.)
Idaho Steelheads: 44-20-5-3, 96 points (2nd in Mountain, 4th in Western Conf.)
Mountain Division Semifinals Results:
Colorado Eagles: Eliminated the Wichita Thunder, 4-2.
Idaho Steelheads: Eliminated the Allen Americans, 4-3.
Game 1: Saturday, April 28 – Idaho at COLORADO – 7:05 pm MT
Game 2: Sunday, April 29 – Idaho at COLORADO – 7:05 pm MT
Game 3: Wednesday, May 2 – Colorado at IDAHO – 7:10 pm MT
Game 4: Thursday, May 3 – Colorado at IDAHO – 7:10 pm MT
*Game 5: Saturday, May 5 – Colorado at IDAHO – 7:10 pm MT
*Game 6: Monday, May 7 – Idaho at COLORADO – 7:05 pm MT
*Game 7: Wednesday, May 9 – Idaho at COLORADO – 7:05 pm MT
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
Colorado and Idaho played each other twelve times in the regular season — six times in Loveland, and six times in Boise. The Steelheads had a slight advantage overall, garnering a 7-5-0 record in those matchups. Most notably, however, were the five of six wins Idaho grabbed from Colorado during their “super series” in February. It was the first time Idaho defeated Colorado three straight times on the road since October of 2012.
How Colorado Wins:
Michael Joly needs to get in the goal column and Joe Cannata has to step up his goaltending. While rookie J.C. Beaudin leads the team with four playoff goals and shutdown defenseman Matt Register has facilitated with seven assists in the first round, the Eagles were 2-2 against Wichita when Joly didn’t tally a goal. Compare that to the regular season set against Idaho, where Colorado went 0-5 when Joly didn’t find the back of the net (and 5-2 went he did).
Cannata’s 4-1-1 record betrays him; the Massachusetts native has put up a mere 0.856 save percentage and 3.09 GAA in the six playoff games he’s played in so far. If losses begin to pile up against Idaho, don’t be surprised to see Sam Brittain (who went 3-2 against Idaho in the regular season) relieve Cannata in net.
How Idaho Wins:
Idaho must continue giving the nod to netminder Philippe Desrosiers and sticking to their offensive game plan. Desrosiers carried the Steelheads out of three close elimination games against Allen in round one, winning games 4 and 5 by scores of 2-1 and holding that score till the last minute in a 4-1 win in Game 7. His stats speak volumes: 4-1, 1.84 GAA, 0.943 save percentage, and only ten goals allowed in six games played.
Idaho’s second line forward pairing of Max French (three goals, three assists) and Cole Ully (one goal, six assists) have sustained the Steelheads in the playoffs. Returning to their regular season form of speed and physicality just in time to salvage their first-round series, first line forwards Steve McParland, Brady Brassart, and newly added linemate Tommy Thompson need to mimic their contribution from Game 7 (two goals and four assists) in order for Idaho to move onto the Western Conference Finals.
C.C. Hawkley will be covering all necessary games in the Colorado/Idaho series for The Sin Bin. Follow him live at @SinBinIdaho during each Mountain Division Final matchup!