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2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Everblades Edge Out Steelheads in Game of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Everblades Edge Out Steelheads in Game of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads and Florida Everblades kicked off their best-of-seven Kelly Cup Final series Saturday night.  In true playoff fashion, game one featured just about everything you could expect from a playoff contest, plus more.  It was a classic example of the good, the bad, and the uglyGood goaltending, bad timing, and ugly ice conditions.

As can be expected at this point in the postseason, it was a close game in every aspect, from shots on goal, to saves, and even untimely penalties.  The teams exchanged goals throughout regulation, and they needed extra time to decide game one.  After a lengthy delay, the overtime session finally commenced, only for more of the same: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  When all was said and done, the Everblades took game one by a final score of 3-2, but judging by the aftermath of Oliver Chau‘s game-winner, both teams are in for a hell of a fight the rest of the way.

Defenseman Dawson Barteaux opened the scoring at 15:38 of the first period when his shot fooled Florida netminder Cam Johnson.  Defensemen Ben Masella and Zach Uens gifted Idaho a lengthy five-on-three power play with their penalties 14 seconds apart.  The Steelheads responded with patience, passing back and forth in the offensive zone until they found the perfect opportunity.  That opportunity came with the puck on Barteaux’s stick and longtime captain A.J. White screening the goalie.


Uens redeemed himself in the second period when he set up fellow defenseman Cole Moberg to tie the game.  Fresh off an offensive zone faceoff win by Cam Darcy, Uens fed his defensive partner a perfect pass, and Moberg’s quick shot sailed past Idaho goaltender Adam Scheel.

The Steelheads regained their lead less than seven minutes into the third period.  Everblades defenseman Brandon Hickey wiped out behind the net, allowing Willie Knierim to gain possession of the puck.  Knierim pushed it up to Ty Pelton-Byce before getting it right back, then passed out in front for Ryan Dmowski to rifle it home.

Less than six minutes later, it was Florida’s turn to capitalize on a power play opportunity.  Like the Steelheads earlier in the game, the Everblades practiced patience with the man advantage, passing around the offensive zone until they were able to find their perfect moment.  That moment came when Blake Winiecki found the rebound of John McCarron‘s point-blank attempt and tapped it into the wide-open net.

Idaho’s Scheel and Florida’s Johnson kept the game tied at 2-2 the remainder of regulation, and after a delay due to ice conditions, the teams eventually headed into the overtime session.  As the extra period wore on, with both netminders standing strong, it appeared there would be a second overtime.  The Everblades prevented that when they took advantage of a turnover right in front of Scheel.  Steelheads defenseman Owen Headrick practically handed the puck to McCarron, who passed it to Chau between the faceoff circles for the 3-2 game-winner.


Idaho’s White: “I think in overtime we had the better chances, and then they capitalized on our one mistake.  That’s just hockey.  We’ve just got to be ready to go [Sunday] from the start and be a little bit more crisp and ready to go.”

The Good

Scheel and Johnson were spectacular in net, with some highlight reel saves on both sides.  Both men made 34 saves on the night, including several game-savers late in regulation and in overtime.  Without a doubt, goaltending will be a major factor the remainder of the way.  Like in game one, the difference in the remaining matches will likely be the result of a defensive lapse late in the game.

The Bad

Uens, Nick Canade, and Will Calverley all had ill-timed penalties.  When Uens joined Masella in the box during the opening period, it gave the Steelheads their five-on-three resulting in a goal.  Canade’s third period delay of game call allowed the Everblades to tie the game and force overtime.  Calverley got nabbed for high-sticking nearly halfway through the extra session.  Luckily for him, Idaho was not able to capitalize, but any penalty in sudden-death overtime is far too risky, especially when your opponent had a 26.1 power play percentage through the first three rounds of the postseason.

The Ugly

As the Zamboni was finishing up its post-regulation resurfacing, it had a malfunction in Florida’s crease, resulting in an uneven playing surface right where Johnson would be standing.  The ice crew had to make a few attempts before it was deemed acceptable to play on and overtime could begin.

Things got ugly following Chau’s goal, as tempers flared and the two teams came together.  Players had to be separated and ushered to their respective locker rooms by the officials.

Game two comes Sunday, only hours after the post-game flareup.  It will be interesting to see if the drama carries over or if cooler heads prevail.

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    Carrie Roberts covers the Adirondack Thunder for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHAdkThunder.

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