BOISE, Idaho – Opening weekend in the ECHL brought with it three road games for the Idaho Steelheads in the span of three days — the only team in the league to play three-in-three to start the season. With one match against Wichita and two tilts against Tulsa, Idaho began its season against two Mountain Division foes just 175 miles apart.
Friday, October 12
Idaho fell down by two to Wichita after goals by Thunder forwards Jakob Stukel and Pierre-Cedric Labrie toward the end of the first period and beginning of the second. Down 2-0, the Steelheads answered with forward Brad McClure scoring halfway through the second and defenseman Brady Norrish tying the game at 2-2 at around the 15:00 mark of period two.
No scoring in the final regulation period led to an overtime period that was equally scoreless. The resulting shootout yielded no goals after three rounds, leading to a sudden-victory format that Wichita forward Colin Jacobs ended in round four, giving Wichita the 3-2 shootout victory. Both teams had a total of 79 shots on goal: Wichita netminder Stuart Skinner stopped 38 of 40 shots faced, while Idaho goaltender Philippe Desrosiers turned aside 37 of 39 shots in the losing effort.
Saturday, October 13
A quick jaunt down to Tulsa awaited Idaho after their loss to Wichita the night before. Just like on Friday, the Steelheads fell down by two goals in the first sixty minutes of play, with Tulsa forwards Adam Pleskach and Jared Thomas adding first-period tallies at 9:20 and 17:26, respectively. Even with increased pushes toward the Oilers’ net in periods two and three, the Steelheads could only muster a last-minute goal from Brad McClure at 18:58 of the third. Idaho goalie Ryan Faragher took the 2-1 loss for the Steelies, stopping 23 of 25 shots face from Tulsa.
Sunday, October 14
Idaho was itching for their first victory of the season on Sunday night after two straight losses on Friday and Saturday. Idaho fell behind 2-0 for the third game in a row before forward Steve McParland cut the lead to one and made it 2-1 at 12:44 of the first period. A Steelheads goal by Justin Parizek at 0:37 of the second was followed up by two Tulsa tallies (Peter Sivak at 8:20 and Ryan Tesink at 10:50 of the second) before Spencer Naas responded for Idaho at 11:43 of the second frame.
Returning Idaho forward A.J. White knotted the game up at 4-4 after a goal at 14:42 of the third period. Overtime came and went, as did the three rounds of a shootout, before rookie Brady Norrish scored the only goal of the fourth round to give Idaho their first victory of the 2018-19 season. Desrosiers was in net for Idaho, stopping 24 of 28 shots and earning his first win of the young season.
The Steelheads opened up the season with three games on the road for the first time since 2006-07. Idaho played five straight road games (one against Long Beach, one at Bakersfield, and three against Victoria) from October 20-28, 2006 to open up their eventual Kelly Cup Championship season. However, in their 16 ECHL seasons, the Steelheads have never opened up their year with three road games in three days.
Idaho made sure to be stacked in net for this upcoming season by bringing back 2017-18 goaltenders Ryan Faragher and Tomas Sholl. However, the Dallas Stars organization decided to call an audible on newly re-signed Philippe Desrosiers, sending him from AHL Texas back to Idaho ahead of this past weekend’s three-game set on October 12. Sholl rode the bench as “Rosie” made two starts and Faragher made one; Desrosiers finished the weekend 1-0-1 with six goals allowed, a 2.77 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage.
Falling Two Goals Behind
Idaho fell behind 2-0 in all three games this weekend, a habit that they were all too familiar with last season. The 2017-18 Steelheads always had a penchant for overcoming adversity after being down by multiple goals, as evidenced by my first game recap for The Sin Bin…and this one…and this one…and this one. Obviously, these articles highlighted the will Idaho had last season when digging themselves out of two-goal deficits. But, I’m pretty sure Head Coach Neil Graham wants no part in three straight games falling down 2-0, especially if only one of those games was salvaged as a win and only three of an available six points were earned.
Idaho’s next series will be a two-game home set on October 19 and 20 against the Utah Grizzlies, serving as the home-opening weekend for Steelheads fans in 2018-19.
Stay tuned in to The Sin Bin for all your minor league hockey news and updates!