Taylor Vause discovered a much better way to return from an injury Wednesday.
The Steelheads forward scored two goals in his first game since breaking his heel in January while with the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Vause broke his heel in his first game back from a minor shoulder injury.
Its been tough, and Ive been struggling with injuries, said Vause, who played 17 games with Idaho at the beginning of the season before being called up to Texas. Ive never had too many troubles with that. But thats part of the game. Its something you have to battle through and mentally come back and find my game again.
Despite Vauses two goals, the Steelheads fell to last-place Las Vegas 5-3 in the first of three games against the Wranglers this week at CenturyLink Arena. Vauses second goal gave Idaho a 3-2 lead late in the second, but the Steelheads (29-21-7) allowed three third-period goals.
The game-winner for Las Vegas (14-34-6) came with 58 seconds remaining on a power play goal after forward Dan DeLisle took a 4-minute high-sticking penalty. Charlie Cooks shot hit forward Robert Smith in front and got past Idaho goalie Pat Nagle.
We took a bad penalty, Idaho coach Brad Ralph said. Its inexcusable. Youve got to know what youre doing with your stick. At that point in the game, you cant be waiving your stick head high.
The Steelheads needed a boost from Vause, who was reassigned to Idaho before the game. Idaho played without captain Patrick Cullity (suspension) and forwards Tommy Grant (birth of a child) and Brett Robinson (scratch).
Vause (pronounced Vawz) helped fill the void. His first goal came on a nice shot high to the glove side after Brock Montgomery carried the puck into the Las Vegas end.
His second came off a pass from Rob Linsmayer in near the front of the Las Vegas goal. With no defenders coming to him, Vause had time to control the puck and flick it past Travis Fullerton.
The puck bounced on me a little bit, Vause said. It wasnt the prettiest goal, but at the same time it went in.
Vause skated on his own Friday, worked out with Texas on Saturday, skated on his own Monday morning and then worked out with the Steelheads on Tuesday.
Its been a little hectic, he said. Youre running around trying to get your legs under you.
Vause, known as an offensive player in his junior hockey days, didnt score much last season with Texas. But he did have six goals and three assists in his first 17 games with the Steelheads this year.
Last year I learned how to play a little different side of the game when youre maybe the third or fourth line, he said. With Idaho, Im able to get a few more minutes and a little more offensive time. Hopefully I can help build my offensive side and keep putting up points.