Colorado Eagles vs. Idaho Steelheads
Date(s) - Wed Mar 29, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
The Idaho Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena for their final three home games of the regular season, a three-game set against the Mountain Division-leading Colorado Eagles that begins on Wednesday night. The Steelheads took four of six points against the Wheeling Nailers last week and are looking to build on the momentum of back-to-back wins. The Eagles dropped their last two games against the Utah Grizzlies and need points to cement their first place status, with the Allen Americans still hot on their trail.
Idaho struck three times in the third period last Saturday at WesBanco Arena to earn a 4-1 win over the Nailers, their ninth win in their last 11 road games. Jefferson Dahl netted the eventual game-winner, while Brian Nugent and Anthony Luciani added insurance. Will Merchant opened the scoring with his second goal of the series in the second period. Landon Bow made 23 saves to earn his 17th victory.
Win and They’re In…
Idaho can clinch a playoff spot for the 20th consecutive season, and 14th in the ECHL, with a win on Wednesday. That’s not the only scenario that will guarantee playoff hockey in Boise, as the magic number sits at two points. A Steelheads win, or a regulation loss by either the Missouri Mavericks or the Alaska Aces, will clinch a playoff spot for Idaho. Missouri is in Allen on Wednesday, while the Aces are in Fort Wayne.
Lins and Looch…
Rob Linsmayer continues with his longest points streak of the season, his assist on Saturday giving him four goals and ten points over a seven-game run. Beyond that, Linsmayer has recorded seven goals and 17 points in his last 13 games. Anthony Luciani established a new personal best with his 29th goal of the season on Saturday. Luciani is one goal shy of becoming just the tenth Steelhead in the ECHL era to reach the 30-goal plateau.
About the Eagles…
The Eagles occupy the division’s top spot and a playoff berth largely because of one of the best runs in ECHL history, a 17-game winning streak from January 25th to March 3rd that was the second-longest in league history. Matt Garbowsky has been a force, now third in the league with 78 points but leading the league with 27 goals and 56 points since New Year’s Day. Ahead of him on the scoring list is Casey Pierro-Zabotel with 87 points in 67 games. Matt Register leads all defenseman in scoring with 62 points, while Jake Marto ranks third. With five games left to play, the Eagles have already posted their most successful ECHL season, with four more wins and five more points than their previous best campaigns.
Goals: Luciani (29)
Assists: Dahl (41)
Points: Dahl (61)
Plus/Minus: Glen (+14)
Power Play Goals: Merchant (12)
Goals-Against Average: Bow (2.18)
Goals: Garbowsky (35)
Assists: Pierro-Zabotel (64)
Points: Pierro-Zabotel (87)
Plus/Minus: Garbowsky (+29)
Power Play Goals: Register (8)
Goals-Against Average: Simpson (2.52)
Play of the gameWednesday night had a playoff feel, with both teams playing strong defense and closing down shooting lanes to keep some of the marquee names quiet. Cracking the scoreboard was going to take hard work and a little extra luck, and Charlie Dodero was rewarded for both when he powered into the offensive zone and made a spin move against Matt Register just in order to get the puck towards the front of the net. That pass to the front found its way behind Simpson to put the Steelheads in front 1-0 against an Eagles team that is 33-1-1 this season when scoring first.
Boise, ID (3/29/17)— Charlie Dodero and Will Merchant found the back of the net and Landon Bow stopped 31 shots, as the Idaho Steelheads (39-21-7) bottled up the Colorado Eagles (45-18-5) and clinched their 20th consecutive playoff berth on Wednesday night with a 2-1 win in front of 4,061 fans at CenturyLink Arena.
The Steelheads officially clinched a playoff spot prior to the second period of their game, when in Fort Wayne the Komets had completed a 5-2 win over the Alaska Aces. Regardless, the Steelheads finished the game with their third straight victory and put a winning touch on their playoff spot. The Steelheads will make not just their 20th consecutive playoff appearance, but their 14th consecutive in the ECHL. Their streak of 20 consecutive playoff berths is the longest among NHL, AHL, and ECHL teams.
At 12:24 of the second period, Dodero opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season. Entering the zone down the left wing, Dodero made a spin-o-rama move on defenseman Matt Register at the face-off dot and spun a backhander to the front of the goal. The puck caromed off the skate of defenseman Sean Zimmerman and past Colorado goaltender Kent Simpson for a power play goal and a 1-0 Steelheads lead.
At 15:05 of the second, Will Merchant extended the Idaho lead. A shot from the slot by Jefferson Dahl went off Simpson’s blocker but then went off Merchant’s thigh as he drove the net. The puck rolled over the goal line for Merchant’s 21st goal of the season, and third in four games. Rob Linsmayer earned an assist on the play, extending his points streak to eight games.
The Eagles would answer back 44 seconds later, when a point-blank chance for Matt Garbowsky was stopped by Bow with the left arm. Bow thought the puck was underneath him, but the puck had rolled free for Johnny Lazo to poke home his fourth of the year.
The Steelheads were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, including 32 seconds of 5-on-3 time against the league’s top power play. The Steelheads penalty kill has stopped 21 of the past 23 disadvantages.
The Steelheads clinched a playoff spot in their 67th game of the season, the same amount of games it took them to clinch last season. The Steelheads currently sit third in the Mountain Division, 13 points ahead of fourth-place Alaska and nine points behind the Allen Americans.
The Steelheads and Eagles meet again on Friday night at CenturyLink Arenafor the middle game of their three-game series.. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:10pm MT with the game available on 1350AM KTIK, Cable One, and on ECHLTV.
Goals: Dodero (4); Merchant (21)
Landon Bow: 31 saves on 32 shots
Power Play: 1-for-3
Penalty Kill: 3-for-3
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Charlie Dodero IDH
- Landon Bow IDH
- Aaron Harstad IDH
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Will Merchant: Game-winning goal, 1 shot, plus-1 rating