Colorado Eagles vs. Idaho Steelheads
Date(s) - Wed Apr 19, 2017
7:10 pm - 10:10 pm
The Mountain Division Semifinals move to downtown Boise for Game 3, the first of three contests at CenturyLink Arena with the best-of-seven series between the Idaho Steelheads and Colorado Eagles tied at a game apiece. The Steelheads earned a win in Game 1 in Loveland with a 4-2 victory, but the Eagles responded with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 2. The Steelheads were 22-11-3 on home ice during the regular season, winning four of six meetings with the Eagles at CenturyLink Arena.
The Eagles were the ECHL’s best team in the regular season when trailing after two periods at 10-14-3, and they carried that success over to the playoffs in Game 2. Alex Belzile’s power play goal with 5:43 left in the third period erased a 1-0 Steelheads lead, and Matt Register’s point shot through traffic ended the game 1:05 into overtime. Rob Linsmayer scored Idaho’s lone goal of the game late in the second period.
Idaho’s top line has driven their offense through two games of the series, with at least two members of the Jefferson Dahl-Rob Linsmayer-Will Merchant trio on the ice for four of the Steelheads’ five goals thus far. Two of those have come from Linsmayer, one in each contest that along with an assist have already matched his points total from last year’s playoff series against the Allen Americans. Will Merchant has three assists in his first two playoff games, while Jefferson Dahl has a power play goals and a plus-4 rating.
Despite their defeat in Game 2, the Steelheads have continued their recent stretch of stingy defensive play. Idaho has not surrendered more than two goals since March 31st, a stretch of six games dating back to the regular season, and they’ve surrendered two goals or fewer in nine of their last ten contests. Idaho also held Colorado to 19 shots on Saturday, the fewest by an opponent this year.
The Steelheads have done a good job in keeping the Eagles’ most prominent scorers largely off the sheet, but ECHL Defenseman of the Year Matt Register made a big impact in Game 2. Register set up the tying goal by former Steelhead Alex Belzile on the power play in the third period and scored the overtime winner. In the regular season, Register totaled three goals and six points against the Steelheads with three of those points coming in the form of power play assists. Register had two goals and four points as an American during last year’s series between Idaho and Allen.
Goals: Linsmayer (2)
Assists: Merchant (3)
Points: Linsmayer/Merchant (3)
Plus/Minus: Dahl (+4)
Power Play Goals: Dahl (1)
Goals-Against Average: Bow (1.99)
Goals: Four players (1)
Assists: Six players (1)
Points: Register (2)
Plus/Minus: Zimmerman (+2)
Power Play Goals: Belzile (1)
Goals-Against Average: Hafner (0.98)
Eagles seize series lead over Steelheads
Play of the gameIt was a one-goal game late in the second period when Sean Zimmerman’s charging penalty removed Jefferson Dahl from the game. The Steelheads wanted more than the two-minute power play they received, but they were unable to capitalize. Colorado quickly earned a power play of their own and added insult to injury with Alex Belzile’s last-second tally. The Colorado Eagles scored goals twice in the final minutes of periods to build their leads. For the Steelheads, losing their captain and seeing their deficit increase by a goal in the span of 4:28 was too much to overcome in Game 3.
Boise, ID (4/19/17)— Alex Belzile notched a goal and an assist in his first game back at the rink he once called home, helping to guide the Colorado Eagles to a 4-2 win over the Idaho Steelheads at CenturyLink Arena in Game 3 of the Mountain Division Semifinals. The Eagles grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with the Steelheads.
Belzile, a Steelhead during the 2014-15 season, set up Colorado’s opening goal at 10:55 of the first period and then capped off the scoring with his second goal of the playoffs with less than a second remaining in the middle frame.
With Corbin Baldwin controlling the puck behind his own net, Belzile rushed in on the forecheck and stripped it away. Belzile fed a pass in front for a quick finish by Shawn St. Amant for his first goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 Colorado lead.
Idaho responded to tie the game 2:38 later on the power play, when Jefferson Dahl rifled a shot over the glove of Lukas Hafner for his second goal of the series, both coming on the power play. Dahl has notched three points for the Steelheads in the opening three games of the series, but he may not be available for them in Game 4.
Late in the second period, with the score 3-2 in favor of the Eagles, Eagles defenseman Sean Zimmerman hit Dahl from behind in the right-wing corner of the Eagles’ zone. Zimmerman received a minor for charging, while Dahl was injured and would not return.
With the game tied 1-1 in the first, the Steelheads power play would pay for a mistake at the Idaho blue line. Joe Faust fanned on a pass that became a 2-on-1 chance for the Eagles, with Ryan Harrison finding Casey Pierro-Zabotel at the back post for a shorthanded tap-in to make it 2-1 at 19:19 of the first period. Colorado led the league in the regular season with 20 shorthanded goals.
The Eagles expanded their lead at 1:55 of the second period when the rebound of a Johnny Lazo shot found Julien Nantel in the low slot for his first of the series and a 3-1 Colorado lead. The Steelheads would respond on the power play again with a Kellan Lain wrist shot off the rush that beat Hafner off the cross bar and in, making it 3-2 at 5:05 of the second with his first of the series.
After the Steelheads failed to capitalize on the Zimmerman minor that sent Dahl to the locker room, the Steelheads were whistled for a late second period penalty with 32 seconds remaining. Belzile would capitalize with a one-timer from the left circle that beat Landon Bow between the legs with .8 seconds left to send Colorado into the second intermission with a 4-2 lead.
The Steelheads made a push in the third period, when they recorded 10 of their 21 shots. That included a breakaway for Andre Morrissette and a 2-on-1 opportunity for Anthony Lucinani, both turned away by Hafner.
Despite the loss, Rob Linsmayer grabbed two assists to give him five points (2-3-5) in the series. Faust also had a two-point night.
The series resumes on Friday night with Game 4 at CenturyLink Arena. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:10pm MT, with the game available on 1350KTIK, Cable One, and on ECHLTV.
Photo: Creative Expressions Photography
Goals: Dahl (2), Lain (1)
Landon Bow: 36 saves on 40 shots
Power Play: 2-for-5
Penalty Kill: 2-for-3
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Joe Faust IDH
- Alex Belzile COL
- Rob Linsmayer IDH
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Alex Belzile: Goal, assist, 3 shots, plus-1 rating