ECHL Series Recap: Idaho Steelheads vs Newfoundland Growlers | 03/09-03/11/2024

Idaho Steelheads/ECHL

ST. JOHN’S NEWFOUNDLAND — The Idaho Steelheads went back on the road looking to be the next team to clinch a playoff spot and continue chasing first place in the Western Conference and Mountain Division.

They won the series, going 2-1-0 in three games.

The Steelhead’s first game on Friday, March 8, was rescheduled due to weather, and the first game of the series took place on that following Saturday.

Saturday, March 9: 

The game quickly started in favor of the Newfoundland Growlers, with Tate Singleton scoring a shorthanded goal three minutes in and Tyler Weiss capitalizing on a net-front chance during a 5-on-3 powerplay. The Steelheads put up ten shots but could not find the opening goal or equalizer.  

Less than five minutes into the second period, the Steelheads surrendered another short-handed goal to put Idaho in a three-goal deficit. The Growlers extended their lead to four almost five minutes later, with Isaac Johnson potting the fourth goal off an assist from Weiss. 

However, Idaho would not give up without putting up a fight. Twelve minutes into the second period, Joe Gatenby went to the box for slashing, giving Idaho a power play. Jordan Kawaguchi scored the Steelhead’s opener on the manned advantage. The Steelheads were down 4-1 after 40 minutes of play, despite outshooting the Growlers 13-12 in the middle 20 of the game. 

Idaho scored less than two minutes into the third period to cut the Growlers’ lead in half. Captain A.J. White put a rebound in the back of the net, giving the Steelhead 18 minutes to overcome a two-goal deficit. 

However, the Growlers weren’t done, and Singleton and Johnson scored their second goals of the game, giving Newfoundland the 6-2 win. 

Sunday, March 10: 

There were a few lineup changes before Sunday’s game; most significantly, both teams exchanged their starting goaltenders

The Growlers started Vyacheslav Peksa, who was pulled in his last start, and the Steelheads started Jared Moe instead of Jake Kielly, who had allowed six goals the night before. 

The game started in the Growlers’ favor, with them registering multiple shots and high-danger chances. The Steelheads finally broke out but struggled to get any high-quality shots. Meanwhile, the Growlers continued to put high-danger shots on net, outshooting the Steelheads 10-3 less than halfway into the first period. But the Steelheads made their limited shots count; Matt Register left undefended in the left circle, opened scoring for the Steelheads more than halfway through the game. The scoring did not stop there; Less than four minutes later, Francesco Arcuri scored a wrist shot from the same place Register scored from, the left circle. 

Early into the second, Nicholas Canade stretched the Steelheads’ lead to three. But the Growlers answered back; Isaac Johnson, who had two goals in the previous game, scored on the Growlers’ 19th shot to bring the Growlers within one. That burst of positive momentum for the Growlers did not last long. Patrick Kudla scored the Steelheads’ fourth goal, another wrist shot from the left dot to restore the three-goal lead. 

The Steelheads went into the third with a three-goal lead to protect, and they did. The Growlers would score one more goal to cut the lead in half, but that was the end of their push to come back. The Steelheads prevailed, with goaltender Moe making 29 saves on 31 shots. 

The final shot count was even at 31. 

Monday, March 11, 2024: 

Moe was back starting for Idaho after Saturday’s win. Newfoundland, however, in an effort to return to the success they found on Saturday, started former Hobey Baker winner Dryden McKay instead of Peksa. 

Just like Sunday night, the Steelheads opened the scoring. Willie Knierim slid the puck past McKay and into the back of the net only 39 seconds into the second period. After a lackluster first 20 minutes of play, Knierim’s quick goal uncorked the offense. White would score nine minutes later to give the Steelheads their first multi-goal lead of the game. With less than four minutes left in the second, Arcuri scored his first goal of the night and second point to stretch the Steelheads’ lead to 3-0 by the end of the second period. 

In the third, the Growlers clawed back. Gatenby, Niel Shea, and O’Brien scored three goals to tie the game at three. Knierim broke the tie, giving Idaho a one-goal lead with his second goal of the game. But it wouldn’t last. O’Brien scored his second goal of the game to send the game to overtime. 

75 seconds into overtime, Kudla scored the game-winner to give the Steelheads the game and series win. It was Kudla’s second goal of the weekend and the second point of the game. 

The Steelheads continue their Canadian road trip to play the Trois Rivieres Lions on Wednesday, March 13, February 15, and Saturday, March 16.

Maeve Hushman

Maeve is a senior at the University of North Dakota studying Communications with a focus on Sports Communications and Journalism. In addition to covering the Idaho Steelheads for Inside the Rink, she covers the UND Hockey, Volleyball, Soccer, and Women's basketball teams for "The Dakota Student." Maeve is originally from San Diego, CA and Donnelly, ID.

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