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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Idaho Forces Rubber Match With 7-5 Win



Photo by Corinne Ferdinand

LOVELAND, Colo. – The Idaho Steelheads defeated the Colorado Eagles, 7-5, in the second of three games this week between the teams. Like Colorado on Wednesday, Idaho entered the contest with just 14 skaters, but they made the most of their few chances — the Eagles out-shot the Steelheads 45-20 — in netting the victory.

Kyle Jones, who stopped just 16 of 20 shots in an overtime win against the Steelheads on Wednesday, continued to struggle against Idaho, stopping just two of five shots in the first period. Despite being out-shot 13-5, Idaho took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

For the second game in a row, David Fredriksson started the scoring when he beat Jones with a slap-shot (representing the Steelheads’ first shot of the game) from above the left circle at 4:30. Marty Flichel made it 2-0 on their third shot eight minutes later. And at 16:40, Ian Lowe made it 3-0 on their fourth shot of the period when he scored on a power play.

Andrew Penner started the second period in net for Colorado and fared much better, stopping nine of 10 Steelheads shots. Prior to being beat by the one, however, the Eagles tied the game at 3 with three unanswered goals.

Colorado’s first score came at 3:19 when Jack Combs sent a deft, spinning pass to Jon Landry behind the Idaho defense in the slot. And just like Wednesday night, the defenseman put the puck past the Steelheads’ goalie.

Three minutes later Chad Costello was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway by a great Jimmy Spratt right pad save, but Combs, who was right behind Costello, pounced on the rebound to trim Idaho’s lead to 3-2. And another three minutes after that, Aaron Schneekloth was able to tie the game with a power-play blast from the point that got past Spratt.

But the Steelheads responded with a strong surge, controlling play in the Eagles’ end for the next few minutes, and after a couple big stops by Penner and other Eagles defenders, Kael Mouillierat put Idaho back on top with a goal from the right side of the crease during a delayed penalty.

Colorado tied the game at 4, 4:04 into the final frame, on Patrick Cey’s first professional goal. Cey and Liam Huculak worked the puck down the left wing before the rookie roofed a shot from low in the left circle; it was the first point as Eagles for both players.

Midway through the third, Idaho was awarded a partial 5-on-3 power play, which turned out to be the turning point in the game as they scored two goals during the advantage. Chad Klassen got the first from the left circle by netting a cross-ice pass from Mouillierat. Jacob Cepis then made it 6-4 less than a minute later.

But the Eagles wouldn’t quit, and at 16:05, Landry picked up his second goal of the game — and third in two games — when he skated down the right wing, used an Idaho defenseman as a screen, and beat Spratt high on the blocker side.

With time winding down, the Eagles pulled Penner for an extra attacker, which opened the door for an unconventional empty-net goal. Costello, stationed deep along the left wing in the offensive zone, sent a pass toward the point for Combs, but the puck jumped his stick and rolled all the way down the ice and into the vacated cage, accounting for the final score.

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