The Idaho Junior Steelheads completed a four game rout of a greatly undermanned Tahoe Icemen team with a 14-3 victory Monday afternoon in McCall. The game was a make up for the one cancelled in South Lake Tahoe back on October 24, 2015.
Friday night the Junior Steelheads opened the weekend with a 11-1 win. Saturday night the score was 13-1. Sunday night was the most lopsided, with Idaho on top 17-0.
With the series, the Junior Steelheads padded their scoring production with 55 goals, elevating their season average to 6.33 goals per game, and there were 78 assists associated with the goals.
The league’s stingiest defense allowed Tahoe only five goals in the four games, decreasing their average to 1.58 per game.
The Icemen were short-staffed to begin the series, as several players needed to return to their homes, several were injured, and an anticipated goaltender obtained in trade had not reported.
During the series, they sustained an injury to goaltender Chad Phillipsen, leaving only Jackson Brown to play Monday’s game, and the departure of defenseman Edgar Gonzalez to a USPHL team in Atlanta to bolster that team’s playoff roster.
Goaltender Austin Althaus started all four games for Idaho, had to make only 34 saves to get the four wins, and was replaced by Josh Giesbrecht in three of the games. Giesbrecht made nine saves in his first appearances of the season.
Netminder Sergei Pysarenko, who leads the league with a 1.34 goals against average and a .941 save percentage, was unavailable to the Junior Steelheads for the weekend.
Every healthy and available Idaho skater earned points, led by winger Oleg Losev’s 14
Losev had hat tricks both Sunday night and Monday, notched a total of seven goals and picked up
assists in all four games totaling seven.
Colton Fletcher and Thomas Zitz had four goals and seven assists each. Nikita Zgirskis also had 11 points, earned on two goals and nine assists.
Macky Power had eight assists spread over all four games, and garnered two goals for a total of 10 points.
Defenseman Denis Galushka was called upon to play a winger position on Monday, something he had never done in a game in his career, and he responded with three goals and three assists.
For the weekend, the newcomer got his first nine points as a Junior Steelhead.
Winger Jack Pierson had the best weekend of his Idaho career, with three goals and assists in all four games totaling five, for eight points.
Co-captain Kyle Williams scored a Saturday night hat trick, added two more goals, and two more assists for seven points.
Cory McClintick notched three goals and four assists to also capture seven points.
Tyler Berndt, Alex Knutsson, Axel Meurling, and Zach Walden each registered six points. Berndt had a Friday night hat trick, two goals on Saturday, and an assist on Monday for his six. Meurling potted four goals and had two assists. Knutsson and Walden had three goals and three assists apiece.
Jack York, Pontus Blom, and Kyle TenEyck each had a four-point weekend.
Co-captain Dmitris Jones and Parker Lewis chimed in with three points apiece.
Zack Biebuyck had probably the most spectacular goal of the weekend on Saturday night, skating the length of the ice and then deking the goaltender to score, and added a Sunday assist to get two points.
Defenseman Mitchell Hodges got a Friday night assist to contribute to the grand total of 133 Junior Steelheads points.
Connor Hoerlein was still feeling ill, and Hunter Lester continued to nurse a sore back and therefore did not participate in the point parade.
Also, Head Coach John Olver was ill and did not make the trip to McCall. The Junior Steelheads were coached in all four games by Associate Head Coach Jason Smith
The Junior Steelheads peppered the Tahoe goalies with a combined 222 shots. The 55 goals yields a 24.77% shooting percentage. Brown wound up making 137 saves, and Phillipsen 30, for the Icemen.
There were only 33 penalties during the series, including but five each on Friday and Monday. Only one penalty out of the 33 was a major five minute penalty; all others were two minute minors.
Junior Steelheads personnel were most complimentary of the classy way in which the Tahoe Icemen, led by 26-year-old coach Chris Collins, competed in the series under difficult and challenging circumstances. Tahoe will hope to break their 19 game losing streak at home against the Butte Cobras this coming weekend.
The Junior Steelheads, now leading the Northwest Division with a 35-7-1 record, will host the Seattle Totems in McCall in a three game series this coming weekend. Game times at the Manchester Ice and Event Center are 7 PM Friday and Saturday, and 2 PM Sunday. All games can be viewed on www.fasthockey.com.
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