They did it again Saturday night at NoCo Ice Center in Windsor, Colorado. By the same 3-2 score
as Friday night. The Idaho Junior Steelheads withstood another comeback by the Colorado Junior Eagles to win Game 2 of the Thorne Cup Finals and take a two to none lead in the best of five series back to Idaho.
Goaltender Sergei Pysarenko played a second consecutive outstanding game for the Junior Steelheads, making 32 saves, to fashion the win.
The defending league champions are one game away from their fifth WSHL title in six years, and Head Coach John Olver’s fifth straight. The two teams will play at Manchester Ice and Event Centre in McCall Friday night at 7 PM. If Colorado earns a victory, a game Saturday night will be played, and then, if Colorado ties the series, a third game will be played Sunday.
The Junior Steelheads drew first blood Saturday night with Hunter Lester scoring the only first period goal five minutes and 52 seconds into the period, Parker Lewis and Nikita Zgirskis with assists.
As opposed to their starting with a three goal deficit Friday night, Colorado tied Saturday’s game 1-1 on a goal by Trenton Hines just 34 seconds into the second period, Mac Colasimone and Austin Fetterly assisting.
It remained 1-1 until 59 seconds into the third period, when Idaho’s Macky Power took a pass from Tyler Berndt and shot it past Austin Piquette. Defenseman Jack York also drew an assist.
The Junior Eagles took a “too many men on the ice” penalty 4:57 into the third, and it proved costly to the home team. Idaho’s Kyle Williams notched a power play goal 36 seconds later for what proved to be the game-winning goal and a 3-1 lead. Lester and Zgirskis got assists.
As they have done throughout the playoffs, the Eagles of Head Coach Steve Haddon came back. With Piquette pulled from the next and the extra attacker on the ice, Justin Van Buskirk scored for Colorado with exactly two minutes left in regulation to cut the lead to 3-2. The same two, Colasimone and Fetterly, assisted again.
The battle raged for the final two minutes, but neither team was able to score.
Friday night, the Junior Steelheads scored the first three goals of the first game.
Winger Alex Knutsson got an unassisted goal eight minutes and 34 seconds into the game. It was the only score of the first period.
Zgirskis lit the lamp for Idaho five minutes and 49 seconds into the second period, assisted by Knutsson and Lester.
A power play goal by Power 12 minutes and seven seconds in made it 3-0. Williams and Lewis drew assists.
The Junior Eagles made one of their patented playoff comebacks, but the Idaho defense, stingiest in the league during the regular season, held the home team to two goals.
Riley Roberts, the WSHL leader in goals during the season, scored on the shorthand with 2:15 left in the second period, Fetterly assisting, and Roberts also got the second goal with 4:21 left in regulation. Colasimone and Van Buskirk got assists.
Pysarenko played a stellar game in goal for Idaho, saving 34 shots in the series opener.
Piquette had a combined 45 saves in the two games in net for the Eagles.
Each of the three games between the Junior Steelheads and Junior Eagles this season, including the one at the league Showcase last December, has been decided by but one goal.
The same caliber of play is expected as the series shifts back to McCall for Game 3, and Games 4 and 5, if necessary.
As usual, all the rest of the games will be available for viewing on www.fasthockey.com
. If things hold true to their recent form, Friday night’s game will be offered free of charge.
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