They did it again. The Idaho Junior Steelheads spotted the Southern Oregon Spartans a 3-0 lead after two periods in Sunday afternoon's game in Medford, then scored four unanswered goals in the third period to avoid defeat and demoralize the Spartans and their faithful home fans. The win gave the Idaho team a three game sweep in an extremely close series against a much improved Southern Oregon team.
Each game was decided by just one goal.
Friday night the Junior Steelheads trailed the Spartans 3-1 midway into the second period, but came back with two goals to tie in regulation, then win it 1:13 into overtime on a Jan Blasko (Trencin, Slovakia) goal.
The Junior Steelheads, who clinched first place in the WSHL Northwest Division race with Saturday night's 2-1 victory, have made a habit of coming back from deficits this season to keep their incredible season going.
On December 7, the Ogden Mustangs scored the first four goals of the game, but then started taking penalties.
Junior Steelheads center Dominic Gabaj (Bratislava, Slovakia) capitalized with a natural hat trick of three power play goals, and then a fourth successive (shorthanded) goal to tie the game. Goals by Connor Kingsbury (Boise, ID) and Blasko iced that come-from-way-behind victory.
Coach John Olver's club now sports a 33-1-1 record, with four victories in a row in the current streak. They are the second club in the league to have clinched a regular season first place. The Dallas Ice Jets accomplished the feat in the Midwest Division weeks ago.
Southern Oregon changed coaches after the league showcase in December, bringing in Joe Grimaldi to take the reigns. They also changed close to half the roster, primarily through the 14 player trade with the New Mexico Renegades.
The changes have resulted in a more disciplined Spartan team, which has overtaken Ogden for second place in the division. With the Junior Steelheads hosting the league championship tournament at the end of March, the second team in the Northwest will make the finals.
In the series last weekend, the Spartans had a total of 78 penalty minutes for the three games.
When the Junior Steelheads hosted the Spartans in McCall back at the end of October, the Spartans had 77 penalty minutes in one game alone, and a total of 151 for the three games. In that series, the Junior Steelheads won by margins of five, four, and three goals.
This coming weekend the Junior Steelheads travel to Ogden for Friday and Saturday night games against the Mustangs at the Weber County Ice Sheet.