BOISE, Idaho – An old saying goes, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’
In terms of being on the brink of elimination in the playoffs, however, how much contempt can one team handle?
The Idaho Steelheads find themselves yet again down 0-3 in a playoff series after the Colorado Eagles eeked out another victory by a score of 3-2 in game 3 of the Mountain Division Final. The Eagles added one goal per period, bolstered by an outstanding showcase from rookie J.C. Beaudin, who netted his league-leading seventh and eighth playoff goals this evening. Even after scratching back into the game with two third period goals, Idaho could not grab their first victory of the series in their first return to CenturyLink Arena since game 7 against Allen in the Mountain Division Semifinal.
The beginning of game 3 mirrored the first two games of this series, with both teams trading offensive drives and chances early. Unlike games 1 and 2, Idaho surged ahead regarding shots on goal and never looked back; the Steelheads had ten shots in a row from 3:30 to around the 10:00 mark of the first period. However, in spite of a bevy of shots faced by netminder Joe Cannata, the Eagles tallied the first goal when Michael Joly zigged and zagged through defenders and beat Idaho goaltender Philippe Desrosiers right side at 16:35 of the first frame.
The second period yielded no shots on goal from either team in the first four minutes of gameplay until a sharp-angled shot from Idaho forward Jack Nevins was gloved down by Cannata. The first shot on goal from Colorado in period two developed soon after off a Corbin Baldwin turnover down low in Idaho’s defensive zone. Colorado forward Julien Nantel picked Baldwin off, centering a tape-to-tape pass to Beaudin for a shot and the Eagles’ second goal of the night at 5:23 of the second.
Colorado caused crowd at CenturyLink Arena to gasp not even three minutes later, when another well-placed shot hit the post passed Desrosiers. Fans were then ecstatic after Idaho left winger Tommy Thompson appeared to have scored at 9:14 of the second. However, the whistle blew just before Thompson netted the goal, signaling a Merchant slashing penalty rather than an Idaho goal, leaving the arena incensed. The Eagles used the momentum to catch up concerning shots on goal; Colorado edged ahead of Idaho 10 to 6 for shots on the period.
After the Eagles killed a holdover Shawn St-Amant penalty from the end of the second, Beaudin tallied his second goal of the evening (and his second two-goal game of the series) with a wrist shot at 1:35 of the third.
Finding themselves against a 0-3 goal deficit, the Steelheads kicked it into overdrive, allowing only one other shot from Colorado for the game, while forcing 16 against the visiting Eagles in the third. It was the seventh shot that earned the Steelies their first power play goal of the series after 16 previously failed attempts. Idaho’s alternate captain Steve McParland cut the Colorado lead to two with said power-play goal at 7:02 of the final frame.
Idaho continued in desperation mode, having to kill a too many men on the ice penalty at the 14:55 mark in the midst of their comeback bid. With Head Coach Neil Graham pulling Desrosiers at around the 17:45 mark, the Steelheads were quick to take advantage of their sixth skater. Defenseman Joe Faust took a shot from the left side that missed Cannata and the net wide, with the puck then careening off the boards to a waiting Cole Ully on the right wing doorstep with a wide-open net. Ully drove it home with only 1:40 left in regulation to make it 3-2, Eagles, in the late stages of the third.
In spite of the heightened sense of urgency and increased shots on goal, Idaho could not get another shot on or past Cannata, resulting in a Colorado win and game 4 being Idaho’s fifth elimination game this playoff season.
Idaho Forward Brady Brassart
News of Note:
Colorado rookie J.C. Beaudin has been smoking hot for the Eagles this series, netting four goals in three second-round games. Not only does he lead all first-year players in goals (8) and points (12) for the playoffs, but Beaudin also has sole possession of first amongst all skaters in goals, and is tied with Fort Wayne left winger Gabriel Desjardins for most points. The next rookie on the postseason scoring list? Steelheads forward Max French, with five goals and five assists to total 10 points.
Idaho captain Jefferson Dahl sat out Game 3 after serving a one-game suspension for slew footing in Game 2 against Colorado in Loveland. With the continued absence of forward Justin Parizek after a first round Game 7 hit from Allen’s Bryan Moore, the Steelheads had to utilize forwards Will Merchant and Alexander Dahl for Game 3. Merchant had a minus-three rating for the night, while the younger Dahl brother collected a minus-one with two shots on goal.
Idaho alternate captain Brady Brassart, a fellow leader with Dahl and prior linemate with Parizek, commented post-game on their absences and Dahl’s return for Game 4:
“They’ve obviously been big parts of the team all year. Having (Jefferson) in the room…he’s a leader you’d like to have. He’s a calming voice, and a phenomenal player on the ice. We’re excited to have him back next game, and we’ll use that to our advantage.”
Game 4 is tonight, once again at CenturyLink Arena, at 7:10 pm MT.
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