One could almost sense a little extra joy in an otherwise quiet Allen Event Center on Saturday night, as the Steelheads poured over the bench to congratulate Philippe Desrosiers after his final stop in a 5-4 shootout win. Naturally any team would be happy after winning a shootout, but it was more important for a Steelheads team that slayed two early-season demons with one swing of the sword.
The Steelheads were in search of their first road win of the season on Saturday night, entering the game with an 0-2-2 road record despite strong efforts in their prior four games away from CenturyLink Arena. They also had not won in four games that went beyond regulation, with three overtime losses and a shootout defeat.
Both droughts came to an end in Allen on the strength of a comeback win against the Americans, the Steelheads recovering from a 4-2 third period deficit.
“It’s one of those things that if you don’t get it early in the season it might take a little while,” said defenseman Cody Corbett of the first road win. “We’re happy we got it like that and it meant a lot to us to come back like that down 4-2. It showed a lot of character for the team and a win like that can go a long way on the road.”
The Steelheads are in the midst of a five-game road trip, with the final three contests coming in Rapid City. Idaho was 21-11-4 on the road last year but started the year 0-3-0. The Steelheads have managed to earn points in the early weeks of this season while on the road, but Saturday’s win was an important step for the team’s confidence against a strong divisional opponent.
“Allen is in the final or the semifinal every year it seems and they have a good contending team. When you’re on the road against that team you have to play hard in their barn,” said Corbett. “They’re not going to give up easy or roll over and die. It was a character win for our guys that showed a lot of effort and grit to take steps forward.”
Corbett had plenty to do with that surge, assisting on both goals in the third period to help erase a two-goal deficit with his third multi-point game in the last five contests. It was a play by Corbett that might have turned the tide in the game, with the first-year Steelhead sliding to break up a shorthanded 2-on-1 and then rejoining the play immediately to set up a Steve McParland power play goal.
Though Corbett’s play helped turn a possible three-goal deficit into a comeback, he identified another moment as the game’s pivot.
“I think the turning point was (Corbin Baldwin’s) hit,’ said Corbett, citing a booming open-ice check from Baldwin in the third period on Allen’s Alex Schoenborn. “That really got us up and going on the bench.”
“We came down the ice and Steve did his job and went right to the net. I just laid a hard shot off the pad that went off him. That started our journey back.”
The Steelheads’ win wasn’t just about grit and persistence, but also because they were able to score four goals against Jeremy Brodeur and win a shootout. The Steelheads struggled to score in late October, but they have netted 22 goals in the past five games and may have found their scoring groove.
“We’ve got a lot of high-octane offensive players and we need to find the confidence to get going a bit. We need the swagger in our step to get the offense going,” said Corbett. “Now that it’s happening a bit, I think the harder we work the easier it’s going to happen for us.”
With their best road period of the season, the Steelheads found some swagger in Texas.