Boise, ID (5/8/18)— The Idaho Steelheads completed their 21st season with Thursday night’s Game 4 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Eagles in the Mountain Division Final. The Steelheads finished the season with a record of 44-20-8, finishing second in the Mountain Division and sixth in the league standings.
An Exclusive Club
The Steelheads’ playoff journey ended in four games in the second round to Colorado, but Idaho did reach the second round of the U.S. Bank Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014. To get there, the Steelheads had to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Mountain Division Semifinals to the Allen Americans. After losing the first three games of the series, Idaho won Games 4 and 5 in Allen and then Games 6 and 7 at CenturyLink Arena, becoming just the second team in ECHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit. It was also just the second time in the ECHL era that the Steelheads had come back to win a series after losing the first two games.
Near the Top
The Steelheads had one of their best statistical seasons in the ECHL era in 2017-18. Idaho’s 44 wins and 96 points were their most since 2014-15. The 44 wins were tied for the fourth-most by a Steelheads team in their 15 years in the ECHL, and the 96 points were the fourth-most.
Season of Sellouts
The Steelheads were one of the hottest tickets in town during the 2017-18 season, selling out 18 of their 36 home games. Idaho’s 18 sellout crowds were twice the total from last season and three more than the past two seasons combined, their most since they sold out 19 games during the 1999-2000 season. In total, CenturyLink Arena welcomed 163,743 fans during the regular season, over 10,600 more than last year, and played in front of an average 90.9 percent capacity crowds for the third-best mark in the league.
The Steelheads saved their best hockey for the end of the season, finishing the season on a ten-game unbeaten streak that finished with a 4-2 win over the Americans in the season-finale. That ten-game streak was Idaho’s longest since going unbeaten in 12 straight from February 20th to March 13th of 2015. The Steelheads also enjoyed an eight-game winning streak during the season-ending tear, one shy of matching the Steelheads ECHL-best set by the 2014-15 team.
Rookie goaltender Tomas Sholl took the ECHL by storm after joining the Steelheads in a trade from the Adirondack Thunder at the beginning of March. With the Steelheads, Sholl went 9-0-2 with a 1.24 goals-against average, a .953 save percentage and four shutouts in eleven appearances, earning back-to-back ECHL Goaltender of the Week awards and reconginition as the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Month for the month of March. Sholl is the first Steelheads goaltender ever to win Goaltender of the Week in consecutive weeks. For his time in Adirondack and Idaho combined, Sholl finished his rookie season with a record of 14-0-3 to go with a 1.54 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.
Steelheads captain Jefferson Dahl completed his fourth season with the Steelheads, leading the team in scoring for a second straight year with 61 points in 61 games. At season’s end, Dahl ranks fourth on the Steelheads all-time ECHL list in games played (241), fourth in goals (77), third in assists (133), and tied for second in points (210) with Lance Galbraith. With a goal against the Utah Grizzlies on February 19th, Dahl became the sixth player in Steelheads franchise history to record 200 points with the team.
Scoring to the Max
Max French spent significant time with the Texas Stars during his rookie season, but he did appear in 20 games with the Steelheads to rack up 18 points and serve as one of their top producers in the final weeks of the season. French scored goals in seven consecutive ECHL games from February 19th to April 6th, a streak interrupted by a one-month recall to Texas. That seven-game streak matched the longest goal-scoring streak by a Steelhead in ECHL history, mirroring seven-game runs by Mark Derlago and Evan Barlow during the 2009-10 season. French totaled nine goals and 13 points during the streak.
Justin Parizek was one of the ECHL’s top rookies from the start of the season, representing the Steelheads at the ECHL All-Star Classic and going on to be one of the league’s top producers. Parizek finished the season with 27 goals and 60 points in 64 ECHL games, finishing second on the team in scoring and second among all rookies in points. Parizek also finished tied for second among all ECHL rookies with eight power play goals, and he led the ECHL in shootout goals. Parizek’s 60 points were the most by a Steelheads rookie since Kael Mouillierat posted 63 points in 2010-11, and the third-most in Steelheads ECHL history.
Philippe Desrosiers stood between the pipes for the final eight games of the Steelheads playoff run, guiding them to their historic comeback against the Americans and coming out on the wrong end of two 1-0 overtime scores against the Eagles in Round 2. Desrosiers had arguably his best professional season in his third campaign, going 23-9-3 to finish tied for fifth in the ECHL in wins and ninth with a 2.51 goals-against average. Desrosiers currently ranks second in Steelheads ECHL history in regular-season games played (80), wins (43), and saves (2,190).
Neil Graham earned his 100th career head coaching victory early in the season, racking up the milestone on January 5th in a 6-3 win over the Allen Americans. Through three season at the helm, Graham has a regular-season record of 125-66-25 and one playoff series victory.
Eight Steelheads under ECHL contract saw time in the AHL this season, after seven ECHL contracted Steelheads had earned AHL ice-time during the 2016-17 season. Jefferson Dahl (Cleveland), Brady Brassart (Utica), Tommy Thompson (Texas), Justin Parizek (San Jose), Joe Faust (Utica), Steve McParland (Texas), Henrik Samuelsson (Rockford), and Ryan Faragher (Stockton) all played AHL games this season on professional tryout agreements. Samuelsson earned a contract extension from Rockford as well during his professional tryout.