BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads had two home shootouts this season heading into Friday night’s game against the Rapid City Rush. The first, fittingly against the Rush on November 14, ended in a 3-2 loss for the Steelies. Rapid City forwards Mason McCarty and Pierre-Luc Mercier notched back-to-back tallies while Idaho was fruitless in rounds one and two.
The Steelheads’ third home shootout of the year occurred Friday night, as forwards Steve McParland and Henrik Samuelsson netted the only goals between the two teams to give the Steelheads the extra-time victory.
A 3-2 shootout loss for Idaho against Rapid in November…a 3-2 shootout victory for the Steelheads versus the Rush in March.
Turnabout’s fair play.
Before overtime and the shootout, however, the game’s regulation periods showcased a tale of two streaks. After forward Tyler Poulsen gave Rapid City a 1-0 lead at 3:52 of the first period, Idaho responded thusly with three unanswered goals in the second from Spencer Naas, Ondrej Vala, and Elgin Pearce. The Rush followed that run with a spurt of their own in period number three, with scoring coming at either end of the frame from forward Cedric Montminy (3:24) and defenseman Dylan Quaile (17:46).
Tied up at 3-3, the overtime period was mainly controlled by Rapid City, with the Rush spending a good majority of it in Idaho’s zone while outshooting the Steelheads, 3-1. With no goals in the extra frame, the shootout became the final step to determine a winner, yielding two goals to none in favor of Idaho. Steelheads shooters McParland and Samuelsson scored in rounds one and three, while defenseman Brady Norrish was held scoreless in round two. Rapid City’s shootout selections were forward Alex Rauter and Montminy in rounds one and two.
BET ON BRADY…USUALLY
Coming into Friday night, Idaho d-man Brady Norrish was a perfect 2-for-2 in shootout attempts on the year. That stat was good to lead all league defenseman (and tie two rookies) with a perfect shootout completion percentage. His uncharacteristic miss against Rapid City goaltender Adam Carlson bumps down his conversion percentage to .750, but Norrish still leads all ECHL defenders in shootout goals (two).
TWO TOWERS TUSSLE
Idaho’s six-foot-seven defenseman Keegan Kanzig and Rapid City’s six-foot-six forward Garrett Klotz don’t seem to like each other very much on the ice. The two behemoths have dropped the gloves against one another in consecutive games, receiving matching four-minute, double roughing minors on Wednesday night and five-minute major penalties for fighting on Friday.
While the first “fight” simply had Klotz intercepting Kanzig before being slammed to the ice, the second instance of aggression resulted in blows actually being thrown. The two traded punches for fifteen seconds or so before tying up to jockey for position. After a punch here and there from each side, it was déjà vu from Wednesday, as Kanzig laid Klotz flat on his back to end the altercation.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
With the win and Tulsa’s 3-1 loss to Wichita Friday night, Idaho maintains a three-point lead for first place in the Mountain Division with four games left to play. The Steelheads will finish their season series with the Rush Saturday night before hosting Utah in their regular season home finale on April 5. Idaho will then head to West Valley City to face the Grizzlies and finish the season on April 6 and 7.
The Oilers have two games in hand on Idaho with six games remaining. Their remaining regular season schedule includes two games at home versus Utah (March 30 and 31), one game on the road against Kansas City (April 2), then two games versus Kalamazoo at home (April 5 and 6) before the season finale in Tulsa against Wichita (April 7).
Idaho and Rapid City face off for the 17th and final time in the 2018-19 regular season on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:15pm MT.