The power play can electrify a hockey crowd and energize a teams players.
And in the early stages of this season, no team in the ECHL has been as efficient on the power play as the Idaho Steelheads.
Idaho played its 10th game Wednesday night, a 6-3 victory over the Bakersfield Condors at CenturyLink Arena.
The Steelheads scored only one power play goal, but came into the game with a whopping 36.4 percent success rate on the power play (when a penalty allows one team to have more players on the ice than the other).
Our power play is clicking and were scoring goals, said forward Justin Dowling, who leads the team with seven power-play points. Thats always going to help you.
A strong power play doesnt always guarantee success, though Idaho (7-2-1) sits in first place in the Mountain Division.
For instance, Idaho led the league in power-play percentage at 25.2 at the end of the 2010-11 season, but finished with the 11th best record. But more often than not, a teams success on the power play is going to be a reflection of overall success.
You look at the top teams, and generally they are going to have a strong power play, first-year Idaho coach Brad Ralph said.
Idaho not only has the top power play, but came into Wednesday leading the league in goals scored with 46. The scoring has been balanced.
I think Ralphie has spread it out a bit, and hes giving everyone a chance, said Kael Mouillierat, who had a hat trick Wednesday that he completed with, you guessed it, a power-play goal. Its tough for the other team when you cant just key on one guy, and were getting offense from everybody right now.
That includes defensive players. Rookie defenseman Jeremie Blain is one point behind Dowling with six points on the power play.
Blain is just a natural talent and hes got a heavy shot, Mouillierat said. Its good to have him back there. He can fire the puck.
Ralph said the team works on the power play every practice.
He just tells us to go out there and be creative, Dowling said. And dont get caught standing still, always have your feet moving.
Despite the early-season success, Ralph doubts that his team can keep up at its current rate on the power play. Florida was the top team in the ECHL on the power play last season with a 23 percent success rate, more than 13 percent lower than Idaho this year.
It would be difficult to keep the percentage the way it is for the rest of the season, Ralph said.
Still, moving forward, Ralph will take power-play goals whenever he can get them.
It can be a momentum changer, he said. There are definitely times when you get an opportunity on the power play in the third period, and it can win you that hockey game.
NOTES: Idahos other goals Wednesday were scored by Dowling, Jacob Cepis and Sam Carrick. Two of Idahos goals were short-handed. Two players celebrated birthdays Wednesday night Tristan King turned 22 and Austin Smith is 24. The game was the 150th of Mouillierats professional career.