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Skills on Display!

Tuesday, March 8th
Skills on Display!

The Idaho Steelheads had some fun with their season-ticket holders Monday night, hosting the 2016 Steelheads Skills Challenge. With fans seated at ice level, each Steelheads player took part in a number of contests to demonstrate their talents on the ice and with the puck.

The Steelheads were split into two teams, with the Steelheads’ Canadian members making up Team Canada and Team Planet USA composed of the American Steelheads and forward Radoslav Illo. Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham led the Planet USA squad, while Assistant Coach Gord Baldwin took the helm for Canada.

We saw some truly great performances on Monday night. Here are some of the highlights!

Accuracy Shooting:

Players had eight attempts to hit four targets, one in each corner of the net, with two shooters from each team getting a turn. The winner of each round would earn a point for his team. Team Planet USA emerged from Accuracy Shooting with a 2-1 lead after American Jefferson Dahl defeated Joe Basaraba in the first round and Canadian Carson McMillan defeated Planet USA’s Radoslav Illo. That would have made for a 1-1 score if not for Dahl doing something a little extra special to earn an extra point.

Dahl pulled off one of the most difficult feats in a hockey skills competition, hitting all four targets in just four tries. After hitting four targets in five tries in last year’s event, Dahl was one better and remains the Steelheads’ sharpest shooter in 2016.

Rapid Fire Scoring:

In the next event, the targets were removed from the net and a goaltender came in, as shooters received eight passes to shoot from the “high slot” to score as many goals as they could. Each team sent out three shooters, and Canada would tie the overall competition at 3-3.

In Round 1, Shawn Boutin beat American goaltender Branden Komm for three goals on eight shots, besting Kyle Jean’s two goals against Philippe Desrosiers. Komm had the better of Desrosiers in Round 2, stopping all eight attempts by Andre Morrissette. Rob Linsmayer netted two goals in Round 2 to earn another point for Planet USA.

In Round 3, Damian Cross would set the high-mark for the event, sniping four goals on Komm. Jake Fallon would only be able to get two pucks past Desrosiers, as Canada took the lead into the third event.

Puck-Control Relay:

The Steelheads showed off their speed and edgework in event number three, skating a puck through a course of pylons before dishing it off to the next man in line in a three- man relay race. Planet USA would earn the point from the event, with Tommy Fallen, Torin Snydeman, and Andrew Carrol narrowly edging out Canada’s Zach Yuen, Corbin Baldwin, and Damian Cross in the first two races of the best-of-three. In both heats, the teams were neck-and-neck with Carroll just ahead of Baldwin in the final leg. Planet USA had taken a 4-3 lead.

Hardest Shot:

Both squads brought the power in the most exciting even of the night, the hardest shot. With Officer Bill Smith behind the net again this year and manning the radar gun, each team sent three players out to register their hardest slap-shot in three attempts, with the winner of each round earning a point. In Round 1, Jake Rutt’s 97mph blast topped Zach Bell’s 92mph slapper to give Planet USA another point.

In Round 2, Joe Basaraba and Radoslav Illo were tied at 96mph after three tries, sending them into “extra shots”. Basaraba would respond with one of the highlights of the evening, lighting up the radar gun with a 102mph bomb to not only win the round for Canada, but earn a bonus point for breaking 100mph. In Round 3, Andre Morrissette would hit 100mph as well, earning a bonus point and topping Kyle Jean to give Canada a 7-5 lead.

In a twist, both goaltenders lined up for their hardest shots. Philippe Desrosiers hit 50mph on the radar gun to lead things off. Branden Komm then stepped up and hit 51mph to seemingly tie the score for Planet USA, but Canada’s Coach Baldwin protested that Komm had been too close to the net when he shot. Komm tried again, and this time registered an undisputed 52 mph on the gun to send the night to its final event tied 7-7.

Shootout:

Every member of both teams took part in the shootout, with both teams going through the order twice. For each goal, their team would earn a point. It was the razzle-dazzle portion of the evening, but also a good showing for the goaltenders.

In the first go-through, only three goals were scored, all for Canada as Damian Cross, Zach Bell, and Andre Morrissette beat Branden Komm.  Philippe Desrosiers stopped all eight shooters. In the second round, players got a bit more creative. Jefferson Dahl was one of several players to flip the puck up onto his stick blade and fire it on net like a lacrosse player, though no player trying that tactic was able to score. Desrosiers got creative, turning around in goal and trying to stop a breakaway by watching the reflection in the glass behind the net.  Andrew Carroll would score, but Desroseirs got crowd cheers for creativity.

In the final round, with Canada leading 12-11, it came down to the coaches. Gord Baldwin came in and deked Branden Komm for a nifty goal, and Philippe Desrosiers slammed the door on Coach Neil Graham to end the evening with a 13-11 win for Canada.

Following the final breakaway, the Steelheads and fans gathered at center ice for a group picture and autographs. For the Steelheads, that was the best event of the evening.

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