When you’re kicking off a road trip, it’s always nice to find your scoring touch early. The Steelheads did that and more on February 17th at Maverik Center, when they led off a three-game series against the Utah Grizzlies with an eight-goal explosion.
The Steelheads scored the game’s first six goals in an 8-2 onslaught, with Joe Basaraba igniting the offense in the first period. Basaraba scored twice in just over two minutes, the start of a four-point night for him, to get the Steelheads moving just over six minutes into the contest.
Basaraba first buried the rebound of an Andre Morrissette shot after forecheck pressure from the two of them had forced the turnover that created the goal. Shortly after, it was Basaraba again parked in front of Utah goaltender Ryan Faragher, getting a piece of a Kyle Jean shot to send it wobbling over Faragher and into the cage.
Idaho would score twice more before the first period ended. Another Utah turnover, this time in the neutral zone, sent Anthony Luciani in on a 2-on-0 with Jefferson Dahl. Luciani had already had a breakaway chance in the contest, but this time he buried his 23rd goal of the season. It was Luciani’s fifth tally in six games.
Bryce Van Brabant tacked on a power play goal 52 seconds later to make it 4-0 Idaho. The Idaho power play, 1-for-14 in the prior four games, was getting back on track and wasn’t done.
If the Grizzlies expected to regroup at the start of the second period, those hopes were quickly dashed by Connor Chatham. The rookie stuffed a loose rebound behind new Grizzlies goaltender Troy Redmann just 2:13 into the middle frame to make it 5-0. The Steelhead power play would get another opportunity shortly after, when Chatham drew a five-minute major from Utah’s Travis Howe and Michael Pelech took another minor on the ensuing penalty kill.
With the 5-on-3 advantage, Aaron Harstad blasted a one-timer from the right point that beat Redmann for Harstad’s first goal as a Steelhead.
Brad Navin got Utah on the board before the end of the second period, but the Steelheads got right back to work in the third. Just over three minutes in, Brian Nugent banked a centering pass off a Grizzlies player during a 2-on-1, bouncing it in for his third goal of the season. After Colin Martin scored another for Utah, Will Merchant would cap the day for Idaho with the team’s third power play goal. Merchant was at the back post for a tap-in after a laser pass from the half-wall by Chatham.
It was Merchant’s tenth power play goal, at the time placing him fourth in the league.
The output matched the Steelheads highest-scoring performance of the season. They also put up eight goals in an 8-4 win over the Grizzlies in the home opener on October 21st. Seven players had multi-point games, while Basaraba’s four-point performance was one of only two by a Steelheads player last season. Idaho’s three power play goals also matched a single-game high for the season.