Norfolk Admirals vs. Idaho Steelheads
Date(s) - Fri Oct 13, 2017
6:15 pm - 10:00 pm
The Steelheads kick off their 21st season on Friday night when they host the Norfolk Admirals for the first contest of a two-game set at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads will play their first four games of the season at home, while the Admirals are on the first leg of a five-game western road trip to start the year.
Idaho hopes to improve upon a 43-win season last year, when they earned 93 points and finished third in the Mountain Division. The Admirals enter their third season in the ECHL, missing the playoffs in each of the first two and finishing in seventh place in the South Division last season. Friday’s game will be the first time the Steelheads have ever opened the season against an Eastern Conference opponent. The Steelheads are 8-4-2 during the ECHL era on Opening Day.
Back in Boise…
The Steelheads boast nine returning players on their Opening Day roster, including both goaltenders and two of their leading point producers. Jefferson Dahl and Will Merchant both return after both had success playing together a year ago, with Dahl leading the team with a career-high 66 points and Merchant ranking fifth in the league with 12 power play goals. Joe Faust set a Steelheads record last year with 14 goals, the most scored by an Idaho defenseman in an ECHL season. Two Steelheads returners also spent time with the Admirals last season, with Aaron Harstad dealt from Norfolk to Idaho last February and Philippe Desrosiers making his last 20 appearances last season for Norfolk.
Will the Steelheads be able to replicate the penalty-killing success of recent seasons? The Steelheads have finished second in the league on the PK in each of their two seasons under Head Coach Neil Graham, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a success rate of 85.8 percent. The Steelheads have finished in the top-10 on the penalty kill for four consecutive seasons.
About the Admirals…
The Admirals make their first ever trip to Idaho with several returning members from last year’s team, as well as some significant off-season additions. Captain Brodie Dupont made his debut with the Admirals last season when the Steelheads visited Virginia, grabbing four points in the three-game set and going on to post 41 points in 40 ECHL games. The Admirals bring some Mountain Division flavor into Idaho with them. In the summer they completed futures deals that brought Erik Bradford and Tim Daly over from Utah. Bradford led the Grizzlies in scoring with 61 points in 57 games and Daly had ten goals and 38 points from the blue line. Earlier in the week, the Admirals acquired Logan Nelson from the Rapid City Rush, with Nelson racking up four goals and two assists in six games against the Steelheads last season. Goaltender Jake Paterson is a member of the Admirals after three seasons in Toledo, with 2016-17 being is best campaign. He led the league in wins (34), finished third in goals-against average (2.28), fourth in save percentage (.918), and seventh in shutouts (7). Paterson was Second Team All-ECHL last year.
Steelheads bombard Admirals in Opening Night win
Play of the gameThe Steelheads first goal of the game, shorthanded, was representative of most of their evening. Brassart forced a turnover in front of his own net and with Tommy Thompson won a race the length of the ice to the front of Jake Paterson’s net. Brassart also made a strong move in tight with a defender on his back to beat Paterson on a night when that was no easy task. It wasn’t the first or the last odd-man rush Paterson would face, but Brassart’s goal helped set the tone for a Steelheads attack that brought pressure all night.
Boise, ID (10/13/17)— Mitch Moroz and Brady Brassart each had a goal and an assist and A.J. White provided the finishing touch, as the Idaho Steelheads (1-0-0) overcame a 45-save effort from opposing goaltender Jake Paterson to earn a 4-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals (0-1-0) in front of 4,396 fans at CenturyLink Arena on Opening Night.
The Steelheads improved to 9-4-2 in season-openers during the ECHL era, calling on four different goal-scorers to down Norfolk in the Admirals’ first ever visit to Boise.
Brassart opened the scoring at 9:54 of the first period with his first goal as a Steelhead, converting shorthanded to give Idaho a 1-0 lead. In front of his own net, Brassart intercepted a centering pass and quickly broke the other way on a 2-on-1 with linemate Tommy Thompson. After a give-and-go, Brassart muscled off Norfolk’s Trevor Mingoia to get to the net and lift a backhander under the bar to put Idaho on top.
The Steelheads had eight shorthanded goals last season, six of them coming at home.
The Steelheads had 22 shots in the first period, but led only 1-0 thanks to the play of Paterson for the Admirals. Early in the second period, the Admirals would draw even on another power play. Mingoia took a feed at the left circle from Angelo Miceli and beat Philippe Desrosiers to tie the game at 5:48.
That tie was short-lived, as Henrik Samuelsson put Idaho back on top at 13:04 after scooping a puck off the end-boards and sliding it behind Paterson. Two and a half minutes later, Moroz built on that lead with Idaho’s first power play goal of the season, snapping a left wing shot over Paterson’s shoulder for a 3-1 lead.
Norfolk again drew within a goal near the midway point of the third period after Idaho nearly netted a second shorthanded tally. After Paterson made a toe save on a 2-on-1 rush from rookie defensemen Eric Sweetman and Shane Hanna, the Admirals brought the puck down the other end and scored a power play goal on a high-slot shot from TJ Melancon.
White put the game away with 2:04 remaining, driving to the net and burying the rebound of a Brassart shot to seal the win.
Desrosiers made 23 saves in a winning effort. Idaho’s 49 shots were their most in a game since Neil Graham became head coach prior to the 2015-16 season.
Thompson and Jefferson Dahl each had two assists for Idaho.
The Steelheads and Admirals will complete their two-game, season-opening set on Saturday night with a 7:10pm MT puck-drop at CenturyLink Arena. The game is available on radio on 1350KTIK and can be viewed on Cable One and on ECHLTV.
Goals: Brassart (1), Samuelsson (1), Moroz (1), White (1)
Philippe Desrosiers: 23 saves on 25 shots
Power Play: 1-for-3
Penalty Kill: 2-for-5
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Mitch Moroz IDH
- Jefferson Dahl IDH
- Jake Paterson NFK
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brady Brassart: Goal, assist 6 shots, plus-2 rating