BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads and Allen Americans will square off in the Mountain Division Semifinal of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Sin Bin’s C.C. Hawkley and Barry Janssen collaborated to give you a detailed preview of the series, including what it will take for these Western Conference squads to advance past round one.
Final Regular Season Records:
Idaho Steelheads: 44-20-5-3, 96 points (2nd in Mountain, 4th in Western Conference)
Allen Americans: 35-29-6-2, 78 points (3rd in Mountain, 7th in Western Conference)
Series Schedule: (Home Team in CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Friday, April 13 – Allen at IDAHO 7:10 pm MT
Game 2 – Saturday, April 14 – Allen at IDAHO 7:10 pm MT
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 18 – Idaho at ALLEN 7:05 pm CT
Game 4 – Friday, April 20 – Idaho at ALLEN 7:05 pm CT
*Game 5 – Sunday, April 22 – Idaho at ALLEN 6:05 pm CT
*Game 6 – Tuesday, April 24 – Allen at IDAHO 7:10 pm MT
*Game 7 – Wednesday, April 25 – Allen at IDAHO 7:10 pm MT
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
Idaho came away with a 5-3-2 record against Allen in the regular season. While the Steelheads never lost a game this year by more than two goals (both against Allen and all other teams), the Americans had three instances where they lost to Idaho by three goals or more. As is most always the case, both teams bring their A-game in regards to physicality and hard-hitting play. This was evident in their clash on November 25, when a 5-1 Idaho win yielded 148 total penalty minutes and a line brawl where Steelheads captain Jefferson Dahl came to blows with Americans goaltender Stephon Williams.
How Idaho Wins:
The Steelheads have been bolstered by speed, toughness, and depth all season long. The latter will definitely come into play in this series, as key team forwards Jefferson Dahl and Henrik Samuelsson are off satisfying AHL tryout agreements with Cleveland and Rockford, respectively. Netminder Philippe Desrosiers was returned to the Steelheads on Monday from the AHL’s Texas Stars, and with red-hot goalie Tomas Sholl maintaining an undefeated regulation streak through March and April, Idaho’s one-two punch in net will prove more than beneficial against Allen. If the Steelheads stick to their fast style of play and aren’t suckered into being too aggressive, the goals will come from the usual suspects (Brady Brassart, Steve McParland, Justin Parizek, etc.), and their solid defense (plus, of course, their netminders) will handle the rest.
How Allen Wins:
The Americans will need production from all three lines on both sides of the ice. Each line is talented and has plenty of skill, but some of the more experienced players have struggled as of late. A large shot differential has plagued Allen against the Steelheads (Idaho’s 36.11 shots per game ranked third in the ECHL); the remedy will come in cutting down on neutral zone turnovers and emphasizing better puck support in the offensive zone. Winning special teams battles will be crucial as well, with Allen needing to avoid retaliation & stick penalties while improving on their power play chances. Lastly, as previously mentioned, goalie play will be a big difference maker in this series. Just like in his regular season victories against Idaho, Jake Paterson will need to steal a game or two for Allen for the Americans to advance to round two.