Vause delivers in return, but Steelheads falter late

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comMarch 6, 2014 

The CenturyLink High-Speed Highlights from the 5-3 loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers on March 5th.

THEIDAHOSTEELHEADS

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.

“It’s been tough, and I’ve been struggling with injuries,” said Vause, who played 17 games with Idaho at the beginning of the season before being called up to Texas. “I’ve never had too many troubles with that. But that’s part of the game. It’s something you have to battle through and mentally come back and find my game again.”

Despite Vause’s 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. Vause’s 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 Cook’s shot hit forward Robert Smith in front and got past Idaho goalie Pat Nagle.

“We took a bad penalty,” Idaho coach Brad Ralph said. “It’s inexcusable. You’ve got to know what you’re doing with your stick. At that point in the game, you can’t 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 wasn’t 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.

“It’s been a little hectic,” he said. “You’re running around trying to get your legs under you.”

Vause, known as an offensive player in his junior hockey days, didn’t 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 you’re maybe the third or fourth line,” he said. “With Idaho, I’m 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.”

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