Steelheads Playoff-Bound, Top Utah, Clinch Playoff Berth
Boise, ID - The Idaho Steelheads (36-22-9) netted three third-period goals on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Arena to cement their tenth victory of the season over the Utah Grizzlies (36-26-6), a 4-1 win to clinch a spot in the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Steelheads' win, combined with the Tulsa Oilers' regulation loss to the Colorado Eagles, guaranteed that for the 13th time in 13 ECHL seasons the Steelheads will be competing for a championship. The win also improved Idaho's lead atop the West Division to three points over both the Grizzlies and the Eagles.
Gripping a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, the Steelheads got some important insurance when Jefferson Dahl snapped his 22nd goal of the season past the glove of Ryan Faragher to give Idaho a 2-0 lead. In the left-wing corner and facing the wall, Emil Molin fought off pressure and slipped a backhand pass through a crowd of sticks right onto Dahl's tape at the left faceoff dot. Dahl wasted no time beating Faragher for his fifth goal this season against the Grizzlies at 11:47 of the third.
Just 1:02 later, Idaho built on their lead again when Kruise Reddick, playing his second professional game, scored his first professional goal. Aggressive on the forecheck, Andrew Carroll flushed Utah defenseman Mike Ratchuk out from behind his own net. Kyle Jean was there waiting to strip the puck away and break in on Faragher from the hash marks. Faragher made the initial save, but Reddick pounced on the rebound to flip home his first and make it 3-0 Idaho.
The Grizzlies responded just 15 seconds after Reddick's tally on Charles Sarault's 19th of the season, a deflection to break up Philippe Desrosiers' shutout bid with 6:56 to go. That was as close as Utah would get, with Andre Morrissette's 13th of the season into an empty net icing the 4-1 win.
The Steelheads weren't able to produce much in the game's first two periods. They generated just seven shots in the first 40 minutes, two of them in the second period, but found themselves ahead at the start of the third. Joe Basaraba scored his 11th of the season to get Idaho on the board, banking a puck in off Faragher's back from behind the goal line at 7:37 of the first period. From there, Desrosiers and the Steelheads defensive zone work was the story.
Desrosiers stopped 11 shots in a second period that was largely spent in Idaho's end of the ice. The rookie goaltender was also Idaho's best penalty killer on a night when the PK was a solid 5-for-5. In addition to Desrosiers' work, the Steelheads had a strong game defending the front of the net.
Corbin Baldwin saved a goal in the second period when he stripped the puck from Matt Berry in front of a gaping net. In the first period, both Jake Fallon and Zach Yuen made strong stick plays in the low slot to negate prime scoring chances from Alex Krushelnyski and Ryan Hayes. In the third period the Steelheads took over, outshooting Utah 10-4.
With the win, Desrosiers is now unbeaten in regulation in his last 13 starts, going 10-0-3. Desrosiers has not lost in regulation since December 10th against Tulsa.
With a playoff spot secured, the Steelheads now turn their attention to the West Division title. They will look to both defend and expand their three point lead over the Colorado Eagles when they travel to Loveland for a two-game series that begins on Friday night. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:05pm MT from Budweiser Events Center, with the game available on ECHLTV and 1350KTIK.
Goals: Basaraba (11), Dahl (22), Reddick (1), Morrissette (13)
Philippe Desrosiers: 21 saves on 22 shots
Power Play: 0-for-3
Penalty Kill: 5-for-5
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Philippe Desrosiers IDH
2. Kruise Reddick IDH
3. Corbin Baldwin IDH
COORS LIGHT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kruise Reddick: First career goal, 2 shots, plus-2
PLAY OF THE GAME:
The Steelheads were under worlds of pressure for the entirety of the second period, but they managed to survive. In the third period, it was the Steelheads' turn to put some heat on the Grizzlies, and with that they took over the game. After Emil Molin and Rob Linsmayer worked the cycle to set up Jefferson Dahl's goal, the Steelheads went for the dagger. On the next shift, Andrew Carroll and Kyle Jean worked to flush out Mike Ratchuk and force a turnover point-blank in front of Ryan Faragher. Kruise Reddick had a nose for the net to bury the rebound and make it 3-0. After weathering the second period storm, the Steelheads jumped on every Grizzlies mistake in the third and put the game out of reach.
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