Idaho Steelheads vs. Utah Grizzlies
Date(s) - Fri Dec 29, 2017
6:05 pm - 10:00 pm
With the ECHL’s Christmas break behind them, the Steelheads and Utah Grizzlies get back to work this weekend with two games at Maverik Center, the final games of 2017 for both clubs. The Steelheads had their eight-game road winning streak snapped on Saturday in Rapid City, but they have still won ten of their last 14 games overall and sit second in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Conference-leading Colorado Eagles, but they have won four of their last seven games after climbing out of a nine-game winless skid.
Joe Faust scored Idaho’s only goal at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Saturday in a 3-1 loss. The Steelheads fell into an early first-period hole on Rush goals by Pavel Jenys and Jack Walker, with Walker’s goal coming shorthanded. Geoff Fortman added insurance for the Rush in the second period to help the Rush snap a ten-game losing streak. Ryan Faragher made 25 saves in the losing effort. Head Coach Neil Graham remains one win shy of his 100th regular season coaching victory.
Faust on Fire…
Joe Faust’s goal on Saturday extended his scoring streak to six games, with the defenseman racking up four goals and nine points during the streak along with a plus-5 rating. Faust is now tied with Cody Corbett for the team-lead in scoring among blue-liners with 19 points. It’s been one of Faust’s most impressive stretches in two seasons as a Steelhead. Last year Faust set a Steelheads ECHL record for defensemen with 14 goals, but he never enjoyed a stretch in which he netted four goals or more than six points in six games.
Making a Killing…
The Idaho penalty kill is climbing up the ranks, now listed 10th in the ECHL at 84 percent after being listed 20th as recently as December 2nd. The Steelheads have killed off 12 consecutive penalties and 40 of their last 44 shorthanded situations (90.9 percent) dating back to December 2nd. The Steelheads have been shorthanded 156 times this season, six more than any other team in the ECHL.
Tabs on Thomas…
Kyle Thomas returned to Utah from AHL San Diego in mid-December and has provided an immediate boost to the Grizzlies scoring attack. Thomas has four goals and six points in five games since rejoining the Grizzlies, scoring Utah’s only goal on Saturday as well. Thomas has 19 points in 17 ECHL games this season and has not gone more than one game without at least a point since the first two games of the season. Thomas also has recorded a goal and five points in three games against Idaho, all in October, including the overtime winner at CenturyLink Arena on October 20th.
Goals: Samuelsson/McParland (12)
Assists: Corbett (17)
Points: Samuelsson (27)
Plus/Minus: Faust/McParland (+9)
Power Play Goals: Samuelsson (6)
Goals-Against Average: Desrosiers (2.19)
Goals: Hanson/Walters (9)
Assists: Hanson/Pelech (18)
Points: Hanson (27)
Plus/Minus: Thomas (+7)
Power Play Goals: Six players (2)
Goals-Against Average: Carr (2.60)
Grizzlies defeat Steelheads with third period surge
Play of the gameBoth teams remained aggressive on the attack in the third period with the game knotted 3-3, and the Grizzlies would break through on Jon Puskar’s breakaway tally. Chris Leibinger carried the puck to his own blue line and waited for a passing lane to open as Puskar skated along the Idaho line behind the defense. Leibinger zipped a pass through the Idaho defensemen and right onto Puskar’s tape, who turned up ice and won the race in on Desrosiers to put the Grizzlies in front with the eventual game-winner.
West Valley, UT (12/29/17)— Chris Leibinger and Erik Higby both notched three-point nights and played a role in a three-goal third period for the Utah Grizzlies (11-12-8), as they skated to a 6-3 victory over the Idaho Steelheads (18-10-4) at Maverik Center on Friday night.
Leibinger had a goal and two assists, including the assist on the game-winning goal in the third period. Kevin Carr stopped 32 of 35 shots to outduel Philippe Desrosiers, who lost for just the second time in his last eleven starts with both defeats at the hands of the Grizzlies.
With the score tied 3-3, Jon Puskar gave the Grizzlies the lead for good at 8:07 of the third period when he snuck behind the Idaho defense to receive a stretch pass from Leibinger, cruising in alone on Desrosiers to score his third of the season. The Grizzlies expanded their lead 1:43 later when a defensive zone turnover came to Michael Pelech at the left face-off dot for a shot off the post, his ninth of the year for a 5-3 Utah lead.
Taylor Richart capped the scoring for Utah at 13:45 of the third period, a right point shot that deflected off a Steelhead in front and through Desrosiers to make it 6-3 with his eighth goal of the year.
The Steelheads opened the scoring just 58 seconds into the contest on a wrap-around goal from Jefferson Dahl, his eleventh of the year and sixth in the past seven games. That was the only lead Idaho would have, as Utah tied the score 1-1 on a 2-on-1 goal by Ryan Walters at 15:16, his tenth of the year. Just 57 seconds later, Leibinger gave the Grizzlies their first lead with his second of the season on a one-timer from just over the blue line.
Idaho tied the score 2-2 at 1:29 of the second on a shot from Steve McParland off of an offensive zone face-off win, McParland unleashing a one-timer from the high slot for his 13th of the year. The Grizzlies regained the lead at 4:24 when Sam Windle’s shot from beyond the red line fooled Desrosiers for a 3-2 Utah lead.
Corey Durocher tied the game 3-3 with his fourth of the season at 8:17 of the third, finishing the rebound of an Alexander Dahl shot.
The Steelheads’ six goals against were their most allowed in a game this season. The Steelheads have also lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since November 22nd and 24th against the Allen Americans. Idaho’s loss coupled with an Allen win in Wichita moved the Steelheads down to third place in the Mountain Division.
The Steelheads and Grizzlies meet again on Saturday night at Maverik Center for the final game of 2017. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT with the game available on 1350AM KTIK and on ECHLTV.
Goals: J Dahl (11), McParland (13), Durocher (4)
Philippe Desrosiers: 24 saves on 30 shots
Power Play: 0-for-4
Penalty Kill: 2-for-2
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Jon Puskar UTA
- Erik Higby UTA
- Chris Leibinger UTA
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Leibinger: Goal, 2 assists, 3 shots, plus-3 rating