After a week apart, the Steelheads and Colorado Eagles collide again this week in Loveland to begin a stretch of six straight games against each other. The Steelheads hope to rebound from their last visit to Budweiser Events Center, where they suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the first-place Eagles. With Colorado moving to the American Hockey League next season, this series marks Idaho’s last regular-season trip to Loveland.
Idaho recovered from their last visit with four points against the Utah Grizzlies this past week, maintaining a three-point hold on second place in the Mountain Division. The Eagles have since lost three in a row, all on the road.
Steve McParland’s goal-scoring touch remained on display last week with another coast-to-coast goal on Saturday night against the Grizzlies. McParland leads the Steelheads with 21 goals and has five goals in his last eight outings. He will be relied on this week, already with six goals and nine points against the Eagles this season.
Cole Ully has also been a catalyst on the attack for the Steelheads. Ully has goals in three straight games, along with an assist, after grabbing one helper in the three-game series with Colorado the week before.
Justin Parizek is without a goal in his last six games, but he continues to make an impact on the score sheet. Parizek has six goals and 12 points in 13 games since the start of January. AJ White has been among Idaho’s best forwards since mid-January, totaling four goals and nine points in his last ten games.
The Eagles are the best home team in the ECHL, with just one regulation loss on home ice this season and points in 17 straight games at Budweiser Events Center. Only the Fort Wayne Komets have earned a regulation win in Colorado this season.
Michael Joly continues his offensive attack on the league, leading the goal-scoring race with 34 goals in 37 games. Joly has been shouldering the load without several members of the supporting cast, with Matt Garbowsky and Jesse Mychan both out since January 21st. Despite those absences the Eagles continue to score, with five other players netting ten or more goals this season and the team averaging 3.82 goals per game.
JC Beaudin joined the Eagles from AHL San Antonio during their last series with the Steelheads, earning a goal and four assists in five games since returning to Loveland.
The Colorado blue line offers a scoring boost to the Eagles, featuring Matt Register and Jake Marto. Register leads ECHL defensemen with 41 points in 45 games, and is tied for first among active ECHL defensemen with 10 goals this season. Marto is not far behind, tied for sixth in the league with 31 points.
The Eagles hope to get goaltender Joe Cannata back in the near future, after the goaltender was injured on January 26th against the Steelheads. Cannata leads the league in save percentage at .934, ranks second in the league with a 2.13 goals-against average, and is sixth in the league with 16 wins.
The Steelheads will look to cut down on the goals against versus an Eagles team that averages over four goals per game at home. The Steelheads have surrendered at least five goals in five of the last six contests.
STEELHEAD TO WATCH
Steelheads captain Jefferson Dahl has two goals and six points in five games against the Eagles this season, and he heads into the week with an opportunity to make some history. Dahl has 196 points in his ECHL career, just one point shy of Darrell Hay for third place on the Steelheads’ all-time ECHL scoring list. Dahl may overtake Hay at any time this week, with 13 multipoint games so far this season.
EAGLE TO WATCH
No team has found a formula for shutting down Michael Joly this season, as the Eagles sniper heads into the series with eight more goals than the nearest competitor in the ECHL goal-scoring race. Joly has enjoyed the season series with the Steelheads, scoring in all six meetings and totaling seven goals and nine points against Idaho. Joly scored in Colorado’s loss on Friday night in Allen, and still has not gone more than two games this season without a goal.KEY MATCHUP
The Steelheads will look for strong starts in Colorado this time around, after their last visit was plagued my deficits early in games. The Steelheads were outscored 7-2 in first periods across three games at Budweiser Events Center, while the teams each scored nine goals in second and third periods the rest of the way. The Steelheads had strong comeback efforts, but dug holes earlier in games that were just two deep. They will look to get the jump on an Eagles team that is in the midst of its longest regulation losing streak of the season, and has given up five goals in each of their last two games.