The Steelheads played their 20th game of a 72-game season Friday night at CenturyLink Arena. Its a good time to check the teams progress as the calendar turns from November to December.
Idahos best achievement is the way it has protected its home ice.
The Steelheads are 10-2-1 at home after Fridays 4-2 win over the Colorado Eagles. The record is tops in the ECHL, and a stark contrast to last season when Idaho finished with a 15-18-3 regular-season home record.
Its huge, said Steelheads defenseman Matt Case, who played 48 games with Idaho last season. Its a big boost having the fans behind us and were getting a lot of energy to go out there and play hard for them.
Idaho, which plays only three home games in December, is 13-5-2 overall. Alaska (15-5-0) defeated Bakersfield on Friday night to stay atop the Mountain Division. The Steelheads are in second place, two points behind the Aces.
Were having fun with it, and were just going to keep going, Case said.
PROTECTING THE LEAD
Idaho improved to 10-0-0-0 when leading after the first period and 9-0-0-1 when leading after the second.
Its very important that once you get that lead you hold on to it, Case said. Weve been able to hold on to our leads, so its been helpful for us to get out in front first.
Putting pucks in the net hasnt been an issue for Idaho. The Steelheads have scored 80 goals this season, second only to Colorado.
The Eagles are five goals ahead of Idaho coming into Saturdays game, which will close out a three-game homestand.
I think the best thing is were doing it the right way, said rookie forward Austin Smith, who had two goals Friday. To hold Colorado to two goals and outscore them two straight nights is even more impressive. Were going about it the right way.
Kael Mouillierat moved into third place in the league with his 13th goal Friday. Smith has nine goals in seven fewer games than Mouillierat, so he could make a run at being the teams leading goal-scorer before too long. Pending call-ups, it could be a friendly competition to watch.
Yeah, I think so. Were pretty good buddies off the ice, Smith said. We encourage each other, more than anything. Were just having fun with it. Its kind of our role and we enjoy doing it, so we kind of feed off of each other, I guess.
When it comes to overall point production, Mouillierat (13 goals, 13 assists) is tied with linemate Justin Dowling (seven goals, 19 assists) for the team lead. They are tied for fifth in the league in points scored.
Rookie Josh Robinson has been perhaps the teams most pleasant surprise. Somewhat of an unknown commodity, the Michigan Tech product has yet to lose a game in regulation.
Robinson came into Friday tied for the third-best save percentage in the league (.926). He improved to 9-0-1 after stopping 35-of-37 shots in Fridays victory.
If Tyler Beskorowany (4-5-1) can revert to the form he showed with Idaho in 2011, when he earned ECHL goalie of the month honors, the Steelheads would have one of the best one-two tandems in the league.
Hopefully, watching Robo and how hard he competes will rub off on him, coach Brad Ralph said. Maybe it will even anger Tyler a little bit. Hes going to play (Saturday) and we expect him to have a good game and give us a chance to win.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424