1. Home
  2. News
  3. Let’s Look Back: Final Frontier

Let’s Look Back: Final Frontier

Sunday, June 25th
Let’s Look Back: Final Frontier

It was the final stanza in one of the ECHL’s most storied epics, one last meeting between fierce rivals before one stepped back into the shadows of hockey history and the other moved forward with their sights set on the future.

The Idaho Steelheads finished their 2016-17 season with a three-game series against the Alaska Aces, their last set at Sullivan Arena after two decades of contests that stretched all the way back to the WCHL era for both teams. After the Steelheads earned shutouts in each of the first two games, Game 72 set the stage for a couple of landmark Steelhead moments.

The Steelheads’ 1-0 win the previous night had officially eliminated the Aces from playoff contention, guaranteeing that April 8th would be the final game in Aces history in front of a full house. The Steelheads were looking for a fourth straight win to finish the regular season, matching their longest regular season winning streak under Head Coach Neil Graham. Their previous three wins had all come via the shutout, a 3-0 win in the home finale against Colorado and then 1-0 and 2-0 wins in their first two contests of the series in Alaska.

The Steelheads’ strong defensive play continued, with Branden Komm making 22 saves in the first 40 minutes and Jefferson Dahl stuffing home his 22nd goal of the season in the final two minutes of the second period. The Aces had never been shutout in consecutive games before, and now the Steelheads were 20 minutes away from holding Alaska to a third blank scoresheet.

Idaho extended their lead with two more goals early in the third period. Anthony Luciani, who reached the 30-goal plateau the previous night, scored again in the finale when he finished off a 2-on-1 by tapping home a feed from Kyle Jean. Just 41 seconds later on a delayed penalty call, Joe Faust buried a wrist shot from the high slot for a 3-0 lead.

The goal was Faust’s 14th of the season, setting a new Steelheads ECHL record for goals by a defenseman in a season. Faust had been tied with Jarad Bourassa’s 2005-06 season, stuck on 13 goals for 13 games heading into the season’s final period. In a game devoid of meaning in the standings, every player on the Steelheads’ bench knew that Faust’s goal was something special.

“I think I’ve been reminded that I was on the verge of breaking the record between every period since I scored my last goal, by teammates and friends and parents,” said Faust in the following days. “Before we went out for the last period a couple of guys mentioned that I might as well do it then.”

The final goal the Steelheads would ever score in Anchorage got by the far the biggest reaction on the bench of any goal during the 2016-17 season.

The job wasn’t finished, however, as the Aces would give their fans something to cheer about before the curtain fell. Stephen Perfetto finally got the Aces on the board with just under four minutes remaining, followed by another goal by Marco Roy with 1:09 left for the final goal in Aces history. The two tallies snapped the longest shutout streak in Steelheads history, capped at 238:06. Perfetto also snapped Komm’s personal best streak of 180:49.

“Alaska is a tough barn to go play in and it was a full house for a couple of the nights we were there,” said Komm. “It was a tough environment and they were a good team and we were able to shut them down.”

Komm would have a few more challenges in the final minute, but closed the door with 33 saves to earn Idaho a series sweep and their 43rd win of the season, tied for the sixth-most by a Steelheads team in the ECHL era.

As the Aces stayed out after the final buzzer to salute their sold-out crowd one last time, the Steelheads remained out as well to give one final salute to the fans of Alaska and the team the Steelheads battled since the days when some of the players had not yet picked up a hockey stick.

The all-time ECHL regular season series between Idaho and Alaska came to an end, with the Steelheads going 87-53-14.

Latest News

More News
STEELHEADS SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE IN OVERTIME LOSS
STEELHEADS SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE IN OVERTIME LOSS
STEELHEADS FACE ELIMINATION TOMORROW AFTER GAME FOUR LOSS
STEELHEADS FACE ELIMINATION TOMORROW AFTER GAME FOUR LOSS
THIRD PERIOD RALLY COMES UP SHORT AS MAVERICKS TAKE 2-1 SERIES LEAD
THIRD PERIOD RALLY COMES UP SHORT AS MAVERICKS TAKE 2-1 SERIES LEAD

Get Hockey Updates

Sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know about news and upcoming games!