Alaska Aces, Allen Americans, cincinnati cyclones, Colorado Eagles, ECHL West Division, ECHL Western Conference, Evansville Icemen, Fort Wayne Komets, Idaho Steelheads, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wichita Thunder
Last season the focus of this blog was on the newly created ECHL’s Central Division and the Wichita Thunder as the former CHL teams moved into the ECHL. This season we will take a broader look at the entire ECHL’s Western Conference, along with a more in-depth focus on the West Division that includes the Colorado Eagles, Utah Grizzlies, Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush and the Alaska Aces.
Opening weekend got off to a great start in the west as teams met their first opponents of the season. Four teams ended their weekend undefeated: Fort Wayne Komets and the Indy Fuel in the Midwest Division; Wichita Thunder in the Central Division; and the Utah Grizzlies in the West Division. The former ECHL Kelly Cup Champions Allen Americans had a rough start to their season, losing two out of their three weekend games with a loss to Quad City on the 16th, a win at home against the Tulsa Oilers on the 17th, and another loss to Tulsa at the BOK on the 18th to gain only 2 points out of a possible 6.
For our in-depth look at one set of weekend games in the West Division we watched two teams who faced each other for the first time in franchise history — the Idaho Steelheads and the Rapid City Rush. The first historic game was a bit of a rout as the Idaho Steelheads came away with a decisive 5-1 victory on Friday night at home in Boise. The Rush had trouble creating any offense and could do very little against the fast skating juggernaut Steelheads. The Idaho team had better puck control, more accurate passing and overall better pressure throughout the entire game. The Rush finally got on the board with a very nice offensive series of shots and rebounds in the mid-3rd period with a Powerplay goal, but it was too little, far too late.
Saturday night the two teams met once again and seemed to be on the same destructive course as the 1st period ended with the Steelheads up 4-1. The 2nd period play slowed considerably for both teams, and the Rush were able to capitalize with a goal late in the period at 16:18, however still trailing behind the Steelheads at 4-2. Only in the 3rd period did Rapid City fans begin to see a glimmer of the Rush team’s full potential, with more pressure and good cycling in the offensive zone. The Rush scored at 12:06 into the 3rd moving within one goal of the Steelheads. With only one second remaining in regulation play some great pressure by the Rush resulted in a last second goal which sent the game into 3-on-3 overtime.
At 2:01 into overtime the Rapid City Rush redeemed their weekend with a crazy, amazing comeback win of the season against the Idaho Steelheads 5-4.
If you have not had a chance to watch a 3-on-3 overtime you are in for a great treat! The new ECHL overtime rules provide a lot of ice, incredibly fast hockey and some very exciting play for their fans. Much better than a shootout on any day!
- Gamesheet: Rapid City 1 @ Idaho Steelheads 5 – Oct. 16th
Idaho Recap — Rapid City Recap
- Gamesheet: Rapid City 5 @ Idaho Steelheads 4 – Oct. 17th
Idaho Recap — Rapid City Recap
Western Conference Weekend Results:
Midwest Division —
- Cincinnati Cyclones – 1-0-0-0 (2 pts)
- Evansville IceMen – 0-1-0-0 (0 pts)
- Fort Wayne Komets – 2-0-0-0 (4 pts)
- Indy Fuel – 2-0-0-0 (4 pts)
- Quad City Mallards – 1-0-0-1 (3 pts)
Central Division —
- Allen Americans – 1-2-0-0 (2 pts)
- Missouri Mavericks – 2-1-0-0 (4 pts)
- Tulsa Oilers – 1-2-0-0 (2 pts)
- Wichita Thunder – 2-0-0-0 (4 pts)
West Division —
- Alaska Aces – 1-2-0-0 (2 pts)
- Colorado Eagles – 0-1-1-0 (1 pt)
- Idaho Steelheads – 1-0-1-0 (3 pts)
- Rapid City Rush – 1-1-0-0 (2 pts)
- Utah Grizzlies – 2-0-0-0 (4 pts)
Last summer’s Road Trip meandered through Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho on my way to the Washington coast and I thoroughly regretted that my trip had not taken place one month later during hockey season as I passed by the Utah Grizzlies and Idaho Steelheads arenas. High on my hockey bucket list now is a couple of Idaho Steelheads games. Boise called to me with its mountain backdrop, the Boise River and the nearby Snake River. And there’s nothing mysterious about the name of Boise’s hockey team the Steelheads, particularly if you know anything about fishing in the American West.
Join us this season as we explore the ECHL’s western teams and their unique regions, Colorado’s Rockies, Rapid City’s Black Hills, Boise’s rivers, Anchorage and its northern lights, and Utah’s Great Salt Lake, along with a lot of fast, exciting hockey.