Playoff Preview: Tahoe Icemen vs Bellingham Blazers in Tahoe

The Tahoe Icemen were able to clinch the second seed in the Northwest Division, giving them a bye through the first round of playoffs.  When asked what the Icemen would be doing during their two weeks off, Head Coach Mickey Lang said, “we’re working on individual skills, conditioning, and defensive zone coverage.”  The third seed Bellingham Blazers swept the sixth-seeded Southern Oregon Spartans last weekend, moving them to the second round against the Icemen.  Coach Lang says, “we are ready.” 

In the six games where the Icemen and Blazers faced each other during the regular season, Tahoe was able to take 12 points, whereas the Blazers managed to keep hold of one in an overtime loss.  Overall, Tahoe outscored Bellingham 32 to 18, even though Bellingham outshot Tahoe 197 to 183.  The Blazers shouldn’t be underestimated.  They found their momentum later in the season and have won 16 of their last 18 games, including a win against the first-seeded Idaho Icecats.

Overview

The Bellingham Blazers head to Tahoe with two playoff wins under their belt.  They have a 14-12-2 record in away games and tied Tahoe with 59 points in the regular season.  They have 228 goals for, and 221 goals against, and a 20% success rate on the powerplay.  They have a 73% success rate on the penalty kill.  They earned 756 penalty minutes in the season, an average of just under 15 minutes per game.

The Tahoe Icemen have a 15-9-2 record at home.  They managed 59 total points during the regular season.  The Icemen have 241 goals for, 226 goals against, and have a 24% success rate on the powerplay.  They have a 78% success rate on the penalty kill.  The Icemen have 1457 penalty minutes in the season, an average of just under 29 minutes per game.

Goaltending

The Bellingham Blazers have three goaltenders on their roster.  Edward Coffey (1) has 3 assists and a 0.871 save percentage in 43 games played.  Avery Heath (30) has 2 assists and a 0.844 save percentage in 18 games played.  Kolter Pawlick (31) has 1 assist and a 0.888 save percentage in 30 games played.

The Tahoe Icemen also have three goaltenders on their roster.  Wade Conlan (1) has a 0.899 save percentage in 37 games played.  Tommy Spero (29) has 1 assist and a 0.893 save percentage in 33 games played.  Max Haselbacher (30) has 2 assists and a 0.905 save percentage in 31 games played.

Who to watch

Bellingham Blazers

Ruslan Novruzov (13) leads his team in scoring with 106 points (56 goals, 50 assists) in 53 games played.

Spencer Vockel (4) leads his team in penalties with 109 minutes in 52 games played, an average of just over two minutes per game.  He has 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists).

Tahoe Icemen

Paul Frys (14) leads his team in scoring with 119 points (51 goals, 68 assists).  He finished the season with a 30-game point streak.

Easton Easterson (9) leads his team in penalties with 220 minutes in 34 games played, an average of six and a half minutes per game.  He has 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists).

Predictions

Tahoe takes Bellingham in two games, with a possible overtime in one.

The Friday and Saturday games start at 7:00 pm at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd.  The playoff series is played best two-out-of-three. Sunday’s 2:30 pm game will be as needed. The very talented Diedra Wallis will be preforming the National Anthem and has performed before games for the Sacramento Kings basketball team. Saturday night a ceremonial puck drop will be handled by one of the Sierra-at-Tahoe Avalanche Dogs.  The Icemen will be holding a 50/50 raffle Friday night, and Saturday night a raffle for a center ice shot for prizes generously donated by Sierra-at-Tahoe, with Icemen autograph signing after the game in the lobby.  There will be a fan appreciation both nights.  Tickets are $6, children six and under are free.  Parking is free.  There will be a warm-up special, Coors Lt will be $2 and Deschutes will be $4 from 6:15 pm until puck drop. We hope to see you there.

deirdra wallis sings national anthem at icemen game

Diedra Wallis is an award winning professional speaker who has served as Miss Yuba-Sutter and Miss California-State. She had the distinct honor of being chosen to represent the U.S.A. as a Global Young Leader where she was a guest at the United Nations in New York as well as Austria. Furthermore, she has had the privilege of performing the Star-Spangled Banner for an audience of over 15,000 at the Great American Celebration. Her vast performance history includes performing the Star-Spangled Banner for the opening ceremony of the California State Fair, the Sacramento Kings Basketball team, and various performances for our troops and throughout the United States. Now she is honored to perform her beloved country’s Anthem for the Tahoe Icemen and their fans.

avalanche dog sponsorThe Sierra-at-Tahoe Avalanche Dog Teams are trained to a high level of competence, in both dog and handler, increasing the potential for live recovery of humans in the event of an avalanche incident.  The Icemen are pleased to welcome the Avalanche dogs and their handlers who will be participating in Saturday night’s playoff game against the Bellingham Blazers.  If you’d like more information about the Avalanche dogs and their mission please check out their Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/sierraavalanchedogs .   They will have a table set up during Saturday night’s game where they will be accepting donations, selling T-shirts, and you can say hello to one of the dogs.

By Harper Dial

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