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Top line humming for Idaho

Tuesday, December 1st
Top line humming for Idaho

The Steelheads fought their way back into the win column on Wednesday night, and it was a familiar cast of characters once again finding the back of the net early in the third period to send them on their way.

The line of Colton Beck, Taylor Peters, and Rob Linsmayer has led the charge offensively for the Idaho Steelheads during the first half of their November road trip. Beck got the Steelheads on the board early in the third period Wednesday with a low wrister off the rush that beat Eagles goaltender Kris Lazaruk along the ice. Beck picked up an assist on Brandon Magee’s overtime winner as well, leaving the puck in the neutral zone for Zack Kamrass to eventually work his way deep in the Eagles zone and feed Magee.

Of the three members of the Steelheads’ top line, Beck has earned the most ink of late. His 18 points are tied for the league lead, and he’s been one of the ECHL’s best producers this week with nine points (3-6-9) in the past four games.

“I think the puck is finding the back of the net right now for me and players are scoring on my passes,” said Beck, who has six multipoint efforts this season and 17 in 80 career pro games. “I think I’ve stuck with it from the beginning of the year and I’ve had my chances throughout. They haven’t all gone in, but over the last little stretch it’s been nice to have some production.”

Linsmayer and Peters have also been putting up solid numbers. Linsmayer has 13 points over the last ten games, now only four points back of Beck’s league-lead. Peters has tallied four goals and eight points in the last eight games.  At least one member of Idaho’s top line has notched a point on each of Idaho’s last 11 goals.

It’s been a solid combination of grit and speed, with a player in Beck that likes to carry the puck, a strong finisher in Peters, and Linsmayer’s play-making ability that has benefited both his linemates.

“I think we complement each other. Beck and Petey both have a good scoring touch and I can set them up, and I have to bury some more and improve in that department,” said Linsmayer. “But the line’s production has been good. We just got one last game and could’ve gotten more, so we’re never satisfied.”

“We all love playing together and we’ve been clicking. We don’t try to overthink things too much,” Beck added. “We just work hard and try to be responsible defensively and we’re going to get our looks, because we have been over the last couple games.”

The trio hasn’t been together particularly long, just a few weeks heading into Friday night’s game against the Eagles. And yet, a combination that wasn’t on the radar for many during training camp has clicked almost instantly and offered some consistency to this lineup.

“I think we have a chemistry that started up right away. As soon as we were in practice we knew where guys were going to be. I think that attributes a lot to how fast we are,” said Peters, whose shooting percentage is around 33 percent in the last eight games. “I know Beck’s been playing really well lately, as has Lins, and I’ve just been cashing in on my opportunities. I think I’ve had a pretty good shooting percentage lately, and I’m hoping that keeps up as we go along.”

It has also given Head Coach Neil Graham a constant in his lineup. Line-shuffling is plenty common on a week-to-week basis at all levels of hockey, and is largely necessary. And while the night will likely come that these three will have to be broken up to answer new challenges, for tonight this line is intact, performing, and growing stronger.

“You definitely get a level of comfort, but we’re still learning. It’s been a few weeks but we’re still learning each other’s game,” said Beck. “I think we can only improve because sometimes pucks aren’t going in, but you’re making the right plays. The offense is there but we can tighten up other things. Pucks are going in, but we’re far from a perfect line.”

Peters has been pleased his line has been able to provide so much offensively, but does believe that Wednesday night is evidence that the rest of the forwards corps is getting ready to break out. And if opposing coaches start to form their game-plans around Beck, Linsmayer, and Peters to keep them off the scoresheet, the Steelheads will be just fine with that.

“I think our line is better than any defensive pairing that’s going to be thrown at us, and if teams match up against us it’s going to play into our team’s hands,” said Peters. “We have three really good lines that can score offensively, just like you saw Wednesday with Brandon’s overtime winner. If you try to shut us down, another line is going to step up and that’s going to be hard on other teams.”

The Steelheads feel they turned a corner with Wednesday night’s win. That’s with respect to the win column, as well as the scoring column. The top line has been the driving force, but they feel there are more goals on the horizon.

“The other lines are playing well, too. They’re getting their chances,” said Beck. “We’re happy to be the line right now that is getting the job done offensively, but expect big things from the other two because they’re both due as well.”

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