Boise, ID (10/7/15) Head Coach Neil Graham said coming into Wednesday night’s intrasquad scrimmage that he was looking forward to seeing which players were adapting to the team systems the quickest in a game situation. In less than two hours, Graham got a good look at just about every situation.
Divided into two teams, Team Black and Team Red, the Steelheads played two ten minute periods at even strength, a third period in which each team had extended time on the power play, and a final overtime session in which players tried their hand at the league’s new 3-on-3 format. Team Black came away with a 7-3 win in the exhibition, but players from both squads made their cases to be on the Steelheads final roster at the end of camp.
Returning forward Jefferson Dahl had the hot stick on the afternoon, scoring a hat trick for Team Black. Dahl netted two goals in the first two minutes of the second frame, one a rebound banged home at the front of the net and the other a quick wrister coming down the right wing. Dahl finished the trick in the third period, sneaking behind the defense and collecting a pass down low at the edge of the crease that he dragged around goaltender Philippe Desrosiers.
“I just wanted to get my legs under me and get back into the systems aspect,” said Dahl. “Summer hockey is all about wheeling and dealing, but out here we’re trying to get back to our systems.”
Team Red had some power play success of its own, with newcomer Brandon Magee making a statement on his first day of camp. Twice Magee found space in the high slot to power a wrist shot through traffic and through goaltender Chris Rawlings. The only other Team Red player to solve Rawlings on the afternoon was Chance Braid who opened the scoring on a nifty move to the net.
“You put the guys in a game scenario and I think it shows where everyone’s skill level is at,” said Magee, who signed an AHL contract with the Texas Stars on October 3rd. “Obviously there are seven goals for the one team and three for the other. I think that shows we have a lot of play-makers and a lot of good things are happening out there.”
Forward Emil Molin, who joined the Steelheads on Tuesday morning, also got on the score sheet in his first game action in front of the coaches with a short-handed goal.
The blue liners got in on the offense as well. Tim Billingsley found a wide open net to cap off a nifty passing play and score Team Black’s first goal. In the third period, a drive from defenseman Jake Rutt found the blade of forward Andrew Carroll for a goal, as Carroll continues to improve each day after a year away from hockey.
The 3-on-3 session was as advertised, with quick breaks, odd man rushes, and bouncing pucks leading to breakaways. It was also likely the best stretch for goaltenders Rawlings and Desrosiers, turning away chance after chance off clean looks. Ironically, the lone goal scored in the period came on a fluke redirect, when Andre Bouvet-Morrissette’s centering pass deflected off the defenseman’s shin guard and in behind Desrosiers.
With a lot of information, the Steelheads will break it all down and put it to use in their two preseason games this weekend against the Utah Grizzlies.
“Guys competed tonight. They were skating fast and playing with some tempo. It’s been a lot on them,” said Graham. “We’ve had a long camp already in three days. It’s finding a nice balance between overloading them with systems and trying to get guys to express their natural abilities as well. Guys have responded well.”