Idaho Steelheads vs. Atlanta Gladiators
Date(s) - Tue Mar 13, 2018
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The Steelheads make their first visit of the season to the eastern time zone on Tuesday with their first visit to Atlanta since January 2016, facing the Atlanta Gladiators at Infinite Energy Arena. The Steelheads earned back-to-back overtime wins against the Mavericks and have points in three straight entering Tuesday night’s contest. The Gladiators have lost five of their last six and look to rebound from a 5-0 loss on Wednesday in South Carolina.
Steve McParland netted the overtime winner on Saturday night against Kansas City, beating goaltender Adam Carlson with 53 seconds remaining for a 3-2 win. McParland also scored in regulation, as did Brady Brassart. Goaltender Tomas Sholl made 31 saves on his way to earning his first Steelheads victory, and ultimately ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors.
On the Fringe…
As was the case over the last two weeks, the Steelheads face a team battling on the playoff bubble. The Gladiators’ recent slide has placed them in the South Division’s final playoff spot, still six points clear of fifth-place Norfolk. Tuesday’s game will be Idaho’s fourth consecutive contest against a team fighting to maintain its division’s final playoff spot. The Steelheads can take another step towards securing their own post-season destiny, with their magic number currently sitting at nine points either gained by Idaho or lost by Tulsa.
Linemates Brady Brassart and Steve McParland picked up where they left off last weekend after McParland was returned to Idaho following his professional tryout with the Texas Stars. McParland earned his fourth multi-goal game of the season, raising his team-leading total for the season to 27. McParland has four goals and five points during a four-game points streak. Brassart carries a three-game goal-scoring streak into Tuesday’s action, giving him five goals and 13 points in his last 11 outings.
The Gladiators lineup features several former Steelheads playing big roles. Derek Nesbitt has been a prominent member of the Gladiators for six seasons since 2005, playing in 313 games for the Gladiators and collecting 269 points. But Steelheads fans will remember Nesbitt from his one season in Idaho in 2006-07, when he notched 30 goals and 81 points in 66 games and helped lead the Steelheads to a Kelly Cup title. Branden Troock was a trade deadline acquisition for the Gladiators from Greenville and has appeared in three games for Atlanta, but he was a Steelhead for parts of three seasons from 2014 to 2017, appearing in 28 games for ten goals and 16 points.
Goals: McParland (27)
Assists: J. Dahl (36)
Points: J. Dahl (56)
Plus/Minus: McParland (+22)
Power Play Goals: McParland (9)
Goals-Against Average: Sholl (1.89)
Goals: Lane (27)
Assists: Sparks (41)
Points: Sparks (53)
Plus/Minus: Vandane (+17)
Power Play Goals: Vail/Nesbitt (4)
Goals-Against Average: Bonar (2.55)
Steelheads fall in Atlanta to open road trip
Play of the gameAt the start of the second period, the Steelheads were tasked with killing a two-minute penalty to Jack Nevins for hooking. Already down 2-0, the Steelheads nearly stole the momentum when Steve McParland pulled away on a shorthanded breakaway. McParland moved across the goal mouth form right to left, trying to tuck the puck in the near post while catching Dan Vladar moving against the grain. Vladar dragged the left pad and made the stop, and on the ensuing rush up ice, the Gladiators set up the power play and fed Branden Troock at the left circle for a one-timer and the eventual game-winning goal on the power play.
Duluth, GA (3/13/18)— Former Steelheads Branden Troock and Derek Nesbitt both scored goals and Dan Vladar made 34 saves, as the Atlanta Gladiators (29-31-3) skated to a 4-2 win over the Idaho Steelheads (35-20-7) on Tuesday night at Infinite Energy Arena.
The Steelheads climbed back from a three-goal deficit to pull within one, but Nesbitt’s eleventh goal of the season into an empty net sealed the win for Atlanta, improving their hold on the South Division’s final playoff spot to eight points over the Norfolk Admirals.
Lindsay Sparks made it 1-0 Gladiators at 6:18 of the first period, taking the puck at the right point during a 4-on-4 and carrying it down to the side of the goal. Sparks pulled rookie goaltender Michael Bitzer out of the net before deking around him, carrying the puck below the goal line and then tucking it inside the post for his 13th goal of the year.
At 13:00 of the first, Atlanta struck again when a turnover at the Atlanta blue line sent Phil Lane in on a breakaway. He fired the puck through Bitzer’s legs for his 28th goal of the season.
Atlanta went up 3-0 at 1:15 of the second period on a power play goal by Troock. After Vladar turned aside a shorthanded breakaway for Steve McParland, the Gladiators regained the zone and Davis Vandane set up Troock for a one-timer for his 17th goal of the year.
The Steelheads got on the board eight seconds after Troock’s goal, with a Jack Nevins wrist shot hitting Valdar’s pad, ricocheting into Connor Chatham’s midsection, and bouncing into the back of the net to make it 3-1. It was Chatham’s eleventh goal of the season and Nevins’ first point as a Steelhead.
Idaho pulled within a goal at 36 seconds of the third period when McParland banked the puck off of Vladar from below the goal line and in to make it 3-2 with his team-leading 28th goal of the season. McParland has five goals in his last five games.
Vladar denied several late opportunities in the third period with the Steelheads pushing for the tie. Chatham was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the third period, and a jam attempt at the side of the net in the final two minutes with the net empty popped over Vladar’s pad and rolled along the goal line before being cleared away.
Bitzer suffered his first professional loss, stopping 23 shots.
The Steelheads continue their road trip on Thursday night in Charleston with the first of two games against the South Carolina Stingrays at North Charleston Coliseum, Idaho’s first visit to Charleston since January of 2013. Puck-drop is scheduled for 5:05pm MT, with the game available on 1350AM KTIK and on ECHLTV.
Goals: Chatham (11), McParland (28)
Michael Bitzer: 23 saves on 26 shots
Power Play: 0-for-3
Penalty Kill: 2-for-3
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Dan Vladar ATL
- Tanner Pond ATL
- Branden Troock ATL
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Branden Troock: Game-winning goal, 2 shots