And then, stunned silence.
Steelheads fans at CenturyLink Arena went through the gamut of emotions Saturday night before the Allen Americans took their second one-goal victory in as many nights against Idaho. Allen’s 5-4 victory over Idaho gave the Americans a 2-0 series lead, snatching two games from the Steelheads on their home ice in Boise.
Allen started Game 2 much the same way they started Game 1 by netting a quick goal in the first two minutes of gameplay. Forward Jared Bethune was responsible for the unassisted score at 1:34 of the first, followed by a Casey Pierro-Zabotel tally four and a half minutes later at 6:03. Idaho goaltender Tomas Sholl, getting the Game 2 nod over Game 1 starter Philippe Desrosiers, allowed more than his 1.54 regular season goals against average in the first six minutes of gameplay.
With the Allen defense clamping down and deflecting all of Idaho’s shots straight away, it took until almost the 12:45 mark of the first period before the Steelheads put an actually shot on net. Their fourth shot on goal came from second line winger Jack Nevins, who lifted his shot above a sprawled out Jake Paterson at 13:31 to bring Idaho within one. After two Allen penalties and one Idaho infraction within the span of a minute, Max French received a nice pass from Cole Ully and drove home a one-timer passed Paterson at the 19:00 mark of the opening frame.
The game was knotted at two goals apiece heading into the second segment. Idaho mirrored Game 1’s middle frame by catching up on the shots sheet yet again, inching ahead of Allen not even two minutes in. The second forwards line of French, Nevins, and Ully peppered Paterson with shots left and right, testing the Mississagua, Ontario native early and often in the second act. All this action proved fruitless for the Steelheads in period two, however, as a David Makowski breakaway goal was the only score of the frame at the 4:55 mark.
With a 3-2 lead heading into the third, Allen increased their defensive pressure, allowing only two Idaho shots in the span of eight minutes. Such a span was punctuated by Pierro-Zabotel’s second goal of the night at 7:58 of the third, making it 4-2 midway through the final frame. The Steelheads kept things interesting after defenseman Eric Sweetman had a shot from the blue line tipped in by Justin Parizek at 13:20, making it 4-3 and a one-goal game yet again.
However, as Sholl was pulled with two and a half minutes left in the game, Allen’s Zach Pochiro potted an empty-netter at 18:05 to bring Allen up by two once more. An Aaron Harstad goal with a minute left gave the Idaho faithful a glimmer of hope, but such optimism was slowly snuffed out as the clock ticked down to zero and the Americans grabbed yet another road victory from the Steelheads.
After the game, a somber Parizek commented on the Steelheads’ collective mindset going into Allen for a potential three-game set:
“We still have our confidence,” Parizek assured. “We know we can win in Allen…we played better hockey there than we did at home. We are looking forward to a couple days off to regroup here, spend some time together, and hopefully get some positive energy going. We obviously have a big task at hand, but we’re going to embrace it, come back strong, and go steal some games in Allen.”
Game 3 in Allen, Texas is Wednesday, April 18 at 7:05 CT / 6:05 MT.
News of Note
-Steelheads captain Jefferson Dahl is expected to rejoin the Steelheads in time for Game 3 after playing in the final regular season game for the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters on Saturday night. The Steelheads regular season points leader tallied two goals and two assists in a seven-game stint for the Monsters.