Idaho Steelheads send a powerful message, beat Utah

Steelheads score twice on power play to earn 2-1 victory

clangrill@idahostatesman.comNovember 21, 2013 

— There’s a reason it’s called a power play. Nothing can charge up a hockey team — and its fans — like having a man advantage.

The Idaho Steelheads used two power-play goals to defeat the Utah Grizzlies 2-1 on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.

Steelheads coach Brad Ralph said last season he prefers the game when it’s played even strength.

“I might have to retract that,” Ralph joked after the win. “We have a very good power play this year.”

The numbers back that up. Idaho (7-4-2) ranks second in the ECHL with a 22.4 percent success rate on the power play through 13 games.

“It’s been a big part of our game lately,” Steelheads forward Mitch Wahl said. “Obviously, we won the game on the power play, so that was huge.”

The Steelheads are fortunate to have the top power-play weapon in the league in Wahl. The third-year pro came into Wednesday’s game leading the ECHL in power-play points with 11 (three goals, eight assists). So it was no surprise that Wahl was on the ice for both power-play goals. Nor was it a surprise that he notched assists on both goals.

“He’s very dangerous on the power play,” Ralph said. “He’s got poise, he’s got patience, he’s got a deadly shot and he’s got great vision. He’s got all the tools necessary for a power-play player. Our power play runs through him, there’s no doubt about it.”

Wahl fed forward Tommy Grant for a power-play score in the first period to put Idaho up 1-0. Utah fought back with a second-period goal, but the Steelheads scored the game-winner when Wahl assisted on a slap shot by defenseman Ryan Button midway through the third period.

Of Wahl’s 112 career points, 58 came on the power play.

Clearly, Wahl starts licking his chops when he sees opponents head for the penalty box.

“There’s obviously a little more time and space,” he said. “I just try to calm it down, don’t force anything and see what’s there.”

Wednesday’s win is the fifth game in a row the Steelheads have earned at least a point. They are 4-0-1 in that stretch.

“We’re on a little streak here and we want to keep it rolling,” Wahl said.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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