The Idaho Steelheads were back on the ice at Budweiser Events Center about 14 hours after Brandon Magee’s overtime winner Wednesday night snapped a six-game winless streak and pushed the Steelheads back into sole possession of second place in the West Division. The Steelheads practiced for a little over an hour on Thursday afternoon, building on a game last night in which they were rewarded for some of the strong defensive zone habits they’ve built in the past three contests.
“Even though we didn’t get the results we wanted in Florida, you could definitely see the progress and some of the things that we practiced tighten up,” said Head Coach Neil Graham. “There were a few breakdowns that still occurred, but that’s hockey. There will be mistakes made, but I think it was good to see we weren’t compounding those errors. We were covering for each other and I think last night we were rewarded for what have been three games in a row that we’ve bought into the defensive zone.”
The Steelheads played well in their half of the ice, and offensive chances were limited against a physical Colorado team. The Steelheads’ lowest shot total in a single period coming into Wednesday night’s game was three, but they were credited for three shots in the first period and just four shots in the third. Though Graham wasn’t convinced that the 14 shots credited to his team were necessarily an accurate count, he did recognize that the Steelheads’ defensive work led to the scoring chances that ultimately earned them a win.
“If we’re buying in defensively and take care of our own defensive zone, we will capitalize on our chances,” said Graham. “Obviously we’d like to generate more than 14 shots, and I don’t believe that number was accurate, but of those 14 shots I thought the majority were decent scoring chances. If we’re tight defensively, we will create enough in the offensive zone to get our opportunities.”
- Colton Beck put up two more points last night and is again tied for the ECHL scoring lead with 18 points. Beck broke the ice for Idaho with his seventh goal of the season at 3:20 of the third and then picked up a secondary assist on Magee’s OT winner. Beck now has nine points (3-6-9) in his last four games, and he has 17 multi-point games in 80 career regular season games.
-Defenseman Dave Pszenyczny made his Steelheads debut last night after signing with Idaho earlier in the day, bringing the steadying veteran presence the coaching staff was hoping for.
“I think the way he played is kind of what we expected out of him. He did a good job playing with (Jake Rutt) last night. I thought they were real solid, keeping things simple and getting pucks out. I thought he added a physical element in our line rushes against and he moved the puck up really well,” said Assistant Coach Gord Baldwin.
“I thought for a guy who hasn’t played much hockey lately, right from the drop of the puck he was solid. I think that’s his veteran experience that shows and hopefully that rubs off on some of our younger guys.”
- Maxime Lagace was solid in goal for Idaho for the third straight outing and earned his first win as a Steelhead, making 29 saves in the process.
-The Steelheads are happy to get back in the win column, but they know it won’t mean as much if they can’t follow it up with another solid outing on Friday night. Still, for the Steelheads, the win was both a reward for much of what they’ve done right in the past week and an opportunity to feel good about their game once again.
“When you’re having trouble winning games, any time you can get the two points is great for the guys. Everyone has seen how hard we’ve worked this season. Even though we had a losing spell here, the guys have played the right way and we’ve progressively gotten better every game,” said Baldwin. “I think as guys buy in and continue to work hard, the importance of that win last night is a huge step in morale for the guys. As we move on, I know guys will like that feeling.”