The Steelheads finished their home series against the Adirondack Thunder with two gritty and impressive wins, but those points won’t mean as much if they aren’t able to put forth a strong performance this week when they make their first ever trip to face the Norfolk Admirals.
The Admirals have struggled mightily in the first month of the season, earning just one win in 11 games. The Admirals earned that win back on October 22nd over an Elmira Jackals team that has won just two games, but Norfolk is riding its most productive run of the season with points in back-to-back games with overtime losses to the Monarchs and Gladiators.
The Admirals come into Wednesday night’s game with just three players having scored multiple goals, led by Nick MacNeil’s three tallies. Norfolk’s 17 goals on the season are second fewest in the ECHL, and their minus-17 goal differential is second-worst.
Jaedon Descheneau has scored two goals and added an assist in four games with Norfolk since being sent from AHL Bakersfield.
The Steelheads, on the other hand, are starting to get scoring from a variety of sources. Jefferson Dahl saw his ten-game points streak come to an end in Idaho’s Saturday win over the Thunder, but Anthony Luciani and Charlie Dodero stepped up to fill the void, with Luciani grabbing his first goal in six games and Dodero netting a power play goal for his second of the year.
David Glen had the tying goal late in the third period Friday to force the game to overtime and followed that performance with a two-assist game Saturday, his first professional multipoint game. Joe Basaraba’s short-handed goal Saturday was his third goal and fourth point in four games.
The Steelheads are 2-3-0 on the road this season, but 4-2-0 against Eastern Conference opponents.
STEELHEAD TO WATCH
As mentioned, Joe Basaraba has three goals in four games since netting the shootout winner in Colorado on November 4th. The Steelheads would love to see a shootout winner have the same effect on Kyle Jean, who won the breakaway contest on Friday against the Thunder and followed it up with a game-winning goal on Saturday. Jean’s goal was his first in nine games, but with two points in three contests and his line generating more chances, Jean could be ready to break out.
ADMIRAL TO WATCH
Defenseman Aaron Harstad has a goal and four points in 11 games this season for Norfolk. Steelheads fans may remember Harstad from last season when he was a member of the Tulsa Oilers. With Tulsa, Harstad scored two goals and eight points in 14 games. Both of those goals came in back-to-back games against the Steelheads in December.
The Steelheads didn’t have much luck in their last matchup with a one-win team, falling on the road to the Rapid City Rush on November 2nd. The Steelheads fell behind early by two goals in that game and could never fully recover. This week Idaho faces a team that has trouble scoring and is in the middle of the pack defensively. The Steelheads need to generate offense with puck possession and keep the pedal down if they are able to grab the lead. The power play can be a factor, having scored goals in 11 of 13 games this season and ranking second in the league. They face the league’s fourth-ranked penalty kill, but if Idaho uses their speed game in the series, they can expect to have their share of power play chances.