Steelheads Play For ‘AA’ National Championship For Second Time In Four Years
PRINCETON, N.J. – A shorthand goal by Scott Burt at 4:59 of the third period on Tuesday gave Idaho a 3-2 win over the defending Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces and clinched the National Conference title for the Steelheads.
Reaching the ‘AA’ National Championship series for the second time in four years, Idaho will meet the winner of the American Conference Finals in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Finals series scheduled for May 23-June 6. Dayton won 4-2 at home on Tuesday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series against Florida. Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla.
If Dayton wins, Idaho would be the higher seed for the Kelly Cup Finals and the Steelheads would host Games 1 and 2 at Qwest Arena on May 23 and 25. Games 3 and 4 would be played at the Nutter Center in Ohio on May 27 and 29 with Game 5, if necessary, scheduled for May 31. If Florida wins, the Everblades would be the higher seed for the Kelly Cup Finals and they would host Idaho in Games 1 and 2 at Germain Arena on May 23 and 26. Games 3 and 4 would be played at Qwest Arena on May 30 and June 1 with Game 5, if necessary, scheduled for June 2.
Idaho defeated Florida in five games to win the championship in 2004 and become only the second expansion team in history to win the ECHL title, joining the Greensboro Monarchs who beat Winston-Salem in 1990. In their march to the Kelly Cup in 2004, the Steelheads beat Las Vegas in the division semifinals and Alaska in the division finals before beating Gwinnett in the conference finals.
In his first two seasons, Idaho coach Derek Laxdal is 85-45-14 in the regular season and has led Idaho to the Kelly Cup Playoffs where the Steelheads are 15-9.
This season the Steelheads were 42-24-6 and finished fourth in the National Conference and sixth in the ECHL with 90 points. After defeating fifth-seed Stockton in six games in the quarterfinals, Idaho upset Las Vegas, which finished first in the ECHL at 46-12-14 and 106 points, in six games in the semifinals. After ending Las Vegas’ ECHL record 18-game winning streak with a 4-1 win in Game 2, the Steelheads won 4-2 in Game 3, the first back-to-back regulation losses for Las Vegas since Dec. 16 and 18. The Steelheads won Game 4 to become the first team since Alaska in the Kelly Cup Playoffs a year ago to win three in a row against Las Vegas.
Steve Silverthorn has played all but 8:17 of Idaho’s 17 postseason games and is 12-5 with three shutouts, a goals-against average of 1.88 and a save percentage of .927. He leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs in wins and minutes (1055) is tied for the lead in shutouts while his goals-against average and save percentage are the best among goaltenders that have played more than 250 minutes.
Idaho’s Lance Galbraith is tied for the Kelly Cup Playoffs lead with nine goals, 11 assists and 20 points in 16 games. Marty Flichel is tied for the lead with 11 assists and fourth with 18 points in 17 games while rookie Lars Helminen leads all defensemen with 11 assists and 14 points in 17 games.
Broadcasting the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth year in a row is B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. Fans can access the B2 Networks broadcast from the scores page on ECHL.com.