Sunday afternoon’s tilt between the Idaho Steelheads and the Toledo Walleye looked similar to game one from Saturday night. Both teams got their fair share of chances, but Adam Scheel and John Lethemon stood tall for the Steelheads and Walleye, respectively. Lethemon, who won the Goaltender of the Year Award, got his first start of the series as Sebastian Cossa took the loss in Game 1. Scheel was back in net after shutting out the high-powered Walleye offense in Game 1. Scheel has not given up a goal since the 14:36 mark of Game 4 in the Division Finals, and his shutout streak is at 185:24, and he’s just 14:25 from breaking Travis Scott’s record of 199:59 set in 1999.
My pre-series prediction of a quick five-game series win for the Walleye is no longer possible. Toledo had been hot coming into the WCF, winning both previous series without surrendering any losses. Scheel had been a shell of himself from the regular season, where he was All-ECHL 2nd Team. Scheel had given up 31 goals in the two previous series, which is 3rd worst among playoff goalies.
Game 2 was tight, with no scoring until Wade Murphy took a pass from Jade Miller after getting out of the penalty box and was in on a breakaway. Lethemon would deny him, but Murphy would collect the puck from the corner, and wrist one passed Lethemon at 17:54 of the 1st period.
No other goals would be scored in the remainder of the period as Idaho continued the trend of not letting Toledo outshoot them. The Steelheads would win that battle 21-12.
The 2nd period would bring more of the same, where both teams would have some early chances, but no goals would be scored early in the period. Idaho would break through again when they broke out of their zone, and Ryan Dmowski fed a wide-open Justin Ducharme, and he beat Lethemon on the backhand to give the Steelheads a 2-0 lead. The goal was Ducharme’s 3rd of the playoffs. The 2nd would end like the first period, with no other goals being scored. Idaho won the shots on goal, outpacing Toledo 11-8.
Lethemon hasn’t played badly in the game, and the rest of the Walleye have got some good chances on net, but the Walleye have not been able to solve Scheel. The Walleye also had their chances on the power play but have gone cold at the wrong time, going 0/2 with the extra skater.
The 3rd period also mirrored the 3rd period of Game 1. Idaho played defense well enough to limit Toledo’s chances while holding the two-goal lead. Scheel still had to make some good saves to conserve the shutout. Toledo committed an interference penalty at 15:36 of the period, and Idaho made them pay for it when Colton Kehler put the game on ice with his fourth goal of the playoffs on the power play. Kehlr made a great move to get low near the goal and received a pass from Pelton-Byce to beat Lethemon.
Toledo can take some pride in winning the shots-on-goal battle for the first time in the series in the 3rd period with a 13-6 tally. Game 3 will take place on Wednesday night in Toldeo. The Walleye will host the next three games in a row if the series goes that far. Games 6 and 7 will take place in Idaho if needed.