BOISE, ID – History has been made in the City of Trees.
After going down 0-3 to the Allen Americans in round one of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Idaho Steelheads went on to win four straight games, accentuated by a 4-1 victory in Game 7 Wednesday night in Boise.
As previously reported, the only other instance of an ECHL playoff team coming back from a 3-0 series deficit and win four games in a row was when the Cincinnati Cyclones did it against the Reading Royals in 2010.
The unbelievable turnaround was bolstered by outstanding outings from Idaho goaltender Philippe Desrosiers. In five starts this series, “Rosie” garnered a 4-1 record (with four straight wins in Games 4 through 7), a goals-against-average of 1.84, and a save percentage of 0.943.
Desrosiers said: “I’m very happy and proud of the guys. We have a really special group here. Obviously, when you go down 3-0, it’s not what you want, but the guys that we have here — the leaders that never quit — we knew we had a chance, and went one game at a time. I thought the first three games, we were a little loose. After that, we made some adjustments, and played real tight.”
The four-goal effort from the Steelheads was bolstered by a couple of empty-net goals as time was winding down in the third period. With Jake Paterson pulled from the net for an extra Allen skater, Idaho captain Jefferson Dahl fired a shot into the empty cage at 19:28 of the final frame. Jack Nevins added an empty-netter in the last ten seconds of regulation, as well.
The overall game was much closer than the final score indicates.
In the first frame of action, Allen started off by giving Desrosiers some work early, netting two shots on goal in as many minutes of gameplay. The Americans even made a Steelheads power play look diminished, creating shorthanded chances during Idaho’s man advantage from an Alex Guptill hooking call at 3:20 of the first.
Idaho Steelheads forward Brady Brassart speaks to the media after his one goal, one assist effort against the Allen Americans Wednesday night. Photo Credit: CC Hawkley.Idaho was not dissuaded, however, and kept forging ahead through a penalty kill of their own (Corbin Baldwin went to the penalty box for high sticking at 6:24 of period number one). It wasn’t long after Baldwin’s penalty expired that the Steelheads drew first blood for the second game in a row. Idaho forward Brady Brassart, after getting knocked down behind Paterson’s net, returned to his feet wide open in front. With a Steve McParland pass hitting his chest, Brassart corralled the puck when it hit the ice, firing it past Paterson at 10:06 to make it 1-0, Steelheads.
The first line forwards for Idaho struck again at nearly the same spot of the second period, as Tommy Thompson went up on a shot over Paterson’s right pad to tally his first goal of the playoffs at 10:00 of the second. Brassart and McParland both received assists on the tic-tac-toe play from behind the net, rejuvenating and reigniting the primary forward line just in time to give the Steelheads a two-goal lead.
While the second line forwards for Idaho (Jefferson Dahl, Max French, and Cole Ully) have been crucial for the Steelheads earlier in the series, the fairly new addition of Thompson to the already gelled pair of Brassart and McParland paid dividends in the first two periods of Game 7.
“It’s going really well,” Thompson stated about being included on forward line one. “Obviously, it’s a little slow at first; I haven’t played with them since Christmas, so it’s been a long time. It took a couple games to get used to each other and get talking more on the bench. Right now, we’re feeling a lot of chemistry going through each other…it’s been a lot of fun.”
The fun continued for the Steelheads as Idaho spent the first five minutes of the third period attacking Allen’s zone. After a Spencer Asuchak faceoff win went straight to the center slot to a one-timing David Makowski, the puck was deflected off an unsuspecting Zach Pochiro and past Desrosiers for Allen’s first goal of the night at 6:20 of the final frame. After Idaho’s Max French couldn’t capitalize on a pair of 2-on-1 setups later in the third, Desrosiers closed out Allen with some acrobatic pad saves with close to a minute left in regulation. The aforementioned empty-net goals drove the nails in the Allen Americans’ proverbial playoff coffin.
Head Coach Neil Graham: “We’ll play (the next few days) by ear. Obviously, we’ve got to travel to get to out to Colorado, so we’ll let the guys mentally rest this evening, and we’ll get back to work tomorrow in terms of our preparation. We’re excited to move on and excited for the next round.”
The Steelheads will play Game 1 of the Mountain Division Final on Saturday night, April 28, against the Colorado Eagles. The puck drops in Loveland at 7:05 MT.
Head Coach Neil Graham
Idaho Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers
Idaho Left Winger Tommy Thompson
News of Note
Tonight’s Game 7 was the first winner-take-all game for Idaho on their home ice. The Steelheads have played two ECHL Game 7’s before Wednesday night, once against the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2006 (lost Game 7) and another against the Allen Americans in 2016 (also lost in Game 7). Idaho also played in a Game 7 against the San Diego Gulls in the WCHL Finals in 2001, losing that series as well.
Idaho achieved their first seven-game series win ever (WCHL or ECHL) with the victory.