Idaho Steelheads vs. South Carolina Stingrays
Date(s) - Fri Mar 16, 2018
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The Steelheads earned their fifth shutout victory of the season on Thursday night at North Charleston Coliseum with a 3-0 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays, just the second time this year that the Stingrays have been held without a goal. The Steelheads look for a South Carolina sweep when they hit the ice on Friday night, with their magic number to clinch a playoff spot now at seven points.
Tomas Sholl stopped all 32 shots he face on Thursday, including eleven in the third period. Eric Sweetman put Idaho in front late in the second period with his seventh goal of the season, and Connor Chatham offered insurance in the third period with his 12th of the year. Jack Nevins would seal the deal late in the game with an empty-net goal, his first tally as a Steelhead.
Backing It Up…
Tomas Sholl was named the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Week on Tuesday, and he proved that decision right on Thursday with his first ECHL shutout. Sholl’s work load wasn’t easy, making several post-to-post saves in close on Stingrays captain Joe Devin and a desperation stick save along the goal line in the second period against rookie Conor Lemirande. Sholl remains unbeaten in regulation through his first eleven ECHL appearances with a record of 7-0-2. The rookie goalie has stopped 86 of 89 shots he has faced in a Steelheads uniform, including 24 of 26 when the Steelheads have been shorthanded.
Taking the Lead…
Prior to Eric Sweetman’s goal late in the second period, the Steelheads had been finding ways to collect points in comeback fashion. The Steelheads had not played with a lead for 253:40 of hockey dating back to last Wednesday’s game against the Allen Americans at CenturyLink Arena. Despite that, the Steelheads still managed to secure five points in the standings during that stretch with two overtime wins and a shootout loss. Once Sweetman did put the Steelheads in front in the closing minutes of Thursday’s second period, the Steelheads held true to form in closing out the win and improving to 25-1-1 this season when leading after 40 minutes.
Take The Sting Out of Losing…
The Steelheads will hope to accomplish something few teams have done this season, which is take four points from a back-to-back set with the Stingrays. South Carolina has only gone winless in consecutive games five times this season, one of them a three game winless streak and none of them comprised of consecutive regulation losses. Only the Atlanta Gladiators and Orlando Solar Bears have managed to beat the Stingrays in consecutive games, both times needing overtime to do it. The Stingrays have also lost consecutive games at North Charleston Arena only twice this year, with three of those four games requiring overtime.
Goals: McParland (28)
Assists: J. Dahl (36)
Points: J. Dahl (56)
Plus/Minus: McParland (+21)
Power Play Goals: McParland (9)
Goals-Against Average: Sholl (1.70)
Goals: Devin (19)
Assists: Whitney (32)
Points: Whitney (49)
Power Play Goals: Zajac (8)
Goals-Against Average: Milner (1.94)
Play of the gameTomas Sholl’s work was impressive but the Steelheads still needed an answer for Jeff Jakaitis to get the win. The goal came early in the third period when Eric Sweetman’s left point shot skipped in on goal, deflected by Alexander Dahl. Jakaitis made the initial save but couldn’t corral the rebound. Will Merchant got to the loose puck, fighting off a check and squeezing a backhander through Jakaitis’ pads for the only goal of the game.
North Charleston, SC (3/16/18)— Just 24 hours after earning his first ECHL shutout, Tomas Sholl was at it again on Friday night at North Charleston Coliseum, stopping all 28 shots he faced to lead the Idaho Steelheads (37-20-7) to a 1-0 win over the South Carolina Stingrays (39-15-7).
Sholl, earning ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors last week, stopped all 60 shots fired his way in back-to-back shutouts and has not surrendered a goal against in 152:24 of play. Will Merchant scored for the Steelheads, who improved to 19-11-3 on the road this season.
Merchant broke through for the Steelheads at 2:49 of the third period, finding the rebound of an Eric Sweetman point shot and poking it through the legs of goaltender Jeff Jakaitis for his 15th goal of the season and the eventual game winner.
The Steelheads had an opportunity to expand that lead with 1:38 of 5-on-3 power play time during the third, but were not able to put another puck past Jakaitis. Former Stingray Steve McParland nearly scored against his former team when he cut across the front of the Stingray net in the third, but was stopped by a diving Jakaitis at the right post.
The Stingrays managed only five shots on goal in the final frame, but did come within inches of tying the game when a deflection by former Steelhead Travis Walsh went up over Sholl and rang the crossbar.
The Steelheads closed out the win without center Brady Brassart, who served the first game of a two-game suspension, and without defenseman Corbin Baldwin. Baldwin was called for an illegal head check in the first period on a neutral zone check on Patrick Gaul. Gaul was injured an did not return, while Baldwin received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The Steelheads killed off the major, helped in part by a Steve Whitney interference minor taken during the major power play for South Carolina.
Sholl is undefeated in 12 ECHL appearances with Adirondack and Idaho this year. He has stopped 114 of 117 shots faced as a Steelhead.
The win reduced Idaho’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot to five points, either gained by Idaho or lost by the Tulsa Oilers.
The Steelheads return home for their final home stand of the season, opening with a three-game series against the Rapid City Rush beginning on Wednesday at CenturyLink Arena. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:10pm MT. The game is available on 1350AM KTIK and seen on Cable One and ECHLTV.
Goals: Merchant (15)
Tomas Sholl: 28 saves on 28 shots
Power Play: 0-for-6
Penalty Kill: 2-for-2
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Tomas Sholl IDH
- Jeff Jakaitis SC
- Will Merchant IDH
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Will Merchant: Game-winning goal, 5 shots, plus-1