BOISE, Idaho – After a chippy Friday night (with three fights between the two squads), Rapid City and Idaho settled in Saturday for their third and final matchup of the week. And, for the second time in three games, the Rush and Steelheads needed extra time to determine a winner. The outcome, however, wasn’t a reprise of Idaho’s 3-2 overtime victory from Wednesday night…
After bouncing to a 2-0 lead in the first period, Rapid City met a responsive Idaho team in the second, with goals from both Alexander Dahl and Elgin Pearce tying things up for the Steelies. Led by an impressive goaltending showcase by Ryan Faragher in the third frame, both teams went to the sudden-victory period for the fourth time this season in Boise. It was a defensive lapse by Idaho in their own zone that sealed their fate, as Rush forward Tyler Poulsen was left uncontested for a top-shelf, backhand shot past Faragher to give Rapid City a 3-2 overtime win to close out the weekend.
Even in the loss, Idaho Head Coach Neil Graham expounded on and extolled Faragher’s solid gameplay:
“I thought he played well and really settled in after the first two goals. I thought he was excellent, made some really timely saves, including a couple game-changing saves in the third. It’s not easy to come in on a Saturday, that late in the week. he’s a true pro, and he showed that professionalism bearing down like he did over that last 40 minutes, which really impressed me.”
Idaho began the game ahead concerning shots on goal (7-1) before Rapid City began retaliating. Steelheads defender Ondrej Vala met Rush attacker Michael Turner along the right wing boards in Idaho’s zone, with Turner moving past the Czech defenseman after a short battle. Cutting in front of Faragher, Turner shot once into Faragher’s pad before collecting his own rebound and putting it past the goaltender’s right skate for the game’s first goal at 12:31 of the first.
Rapid’s second goal came during a power-play opportunity, stemming from an Alexander Dahl boarding call at 16:52 of the opening stanza. With open ice above the faceoff circles in Idaho’s zone, Rush forward Darby Llewellyn wristed a shot through traffic and into the twine at 18:06 to put the South Dakota squad up 2-0. A minute or so later, after a series of shots and terrific saves by Rapid City goaltender Adam Carlson, Idaho alternate captain Mitch Moroz and Rapid City captain Riley Weselowski threw down their gloves and tied up to fight. Moroz then clocked Weselowski with a right haymaker that took both skaters to the ice, bloodying the Rapid City veteran’s cheek as the scrap came to an abrupt end.
at 9:20 of the 2nd, we are on the board! pic.twitter.com/EapuOuDVOj
— Idaho Steelheads (@Steelheads) February 17, 2019
Period two began with Rapid City jumping ahead on the shot sheet, leading Idaho 8-4 before the Steelheads began catching up. Halfway through the second, Steelheads d-man Geoff Crisfield hit a nice go-ahead pass to Dahl, who swooped from the left wing to center before whizzing the puck past Carlson to make it a one-goal game at 9:20. Idaho’s Pearce then tied the game up after surging through a crowd of Rush defenders in front of Carlson, putting two shots on the Minnesota native before burying the third, scoring blocker-side at 12:59. Assists went to Dahl and Gluchowski on the tally.
🍎: Dahl, Gluchowski
3rd times a charm, as we tie the game at 12:59 of the 2nd pic.twitter.com/kTAWr98G3I
— Idaho Steelheads (@Steelheads) February 17, 2019
The final regulation frame became The Ryan Faragher Show, with the former St. Cloud State netminder recording 16 saves on 16 shots in spectacular fashion. One particular sequence came halfway through the third: Faragher faced a two-on-one breakaway, stretching to his right to make a pad save while losing his stick in the process. He then recovered left-side to make yet another save before the defense cleared the puck, the sellout crowd of 5,209 roaring in approval.
Even though Idaho pushed back offensively to force overtime, the Steelheads couldn’t manage to muster a shot in the extra period. The only shot on goal came from Rapid City, set up when Poulson drove in on net as a Steelheads defender peeled off to guard another skater. Left all alone in front of Faragher, Poulson tallied the game-winning goal at 2:13 of OT.
THE UTILITY MAN
After debuting with the Idaho Steelheads last season in the shadow of his brother (and former captain) Jefferson Dahl, Alexander Dahl has found his niche in the organization: just go ahead and plug him in wherever he’s needed.
“I pride myself in being able to play all positions,” Dahl said. “I have played all five positions this year…it’s good to be utilized in any way possible and help the team out any way I can.”
Alex’s ten goals and 12 assists are good for 22 points in 40 games played this season, nine points ahead of his 13 total points in 42 games last year. Dahl also had one goal and one assist in Idaho’s 3-2 overtime loss to Rapid City Saturday night.
“I’m feeling more comfortable out there in the pro game (this year). I definitely worked a lot this summer in being more patient, holding onto pucks more, and being able to take my chances. Because it’s my second year, I’m getting more opportunities, and I’m taking advantage of it.”
Idaho (31-17-4) will host Tulsa (29-18-6) next week for another three-game homestand on February 20, 22, and 23 (all games start at 7:10pm MT). The six points up for grabs in Boise will be pivotal regarding divisional playoff placement; the Oilers are currently third place in the Mountain Division with 64 points, just two points behind Idaho in the standings. Utah (31-14-5) is inching both teams out for first with 67 points, creating an intriguing three-way battle for Mountain Division seeds one through three heading into the last quarter of the regular season.