Series Preview: Lake Tahoe Icemen vs Idaho Icecats at Tahoe
If Tahoe can win the first one, they’ll be more likely to take the series. When asked about the upcoming games Head Coach Mickey Lang was positive, “We’re excited to play the Icecats. They’re the top team in our division, if not the top team in the league. It’s a great test to see where we stand at the halfway point in the season.”
Tahoe needs a win on this one if they want to head into the new year with a firm grip on second place in the Northwest Division. After a win this last weekend, the third place West Sound Warriors have moved up to tie the Icemen. Without at least one point, the Icemen won’t be able to push West Sound back into third place until their next series in January.
The Idaho Icecats (formerly the Idaho Jr. Steelheads) head to Lake Tahoe with a 7-2-0 away game record and 38 points in a mere 21 games. They suffered their first defeat of the season against the Ogden Mustangs earlier this month. They have a 9-point lead on the Icemen, and sit comfortably in the top spot in the Northwest Division. The Icecats have 133 goals for, and only 34 goals against. The Icecats boast a 28% success rate on the power play. They have a middle-of-the-pack 409 minutes in penalties this season in 21 games. Even if the Icemen can draw the Icecats into penalties, with a phenomenal 92% success rate on the penalty kill, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
The Tahoe Icemen have an 8-2-2 record at home with 29 points in 27 games. The Icemen have been up and down this season, trying to work around injuries, illness and suspensions. Justin Poirier (13) returns to the lineup after recovering from a game related injury earlier in the season, and there are no current suspensions. When asked if any of the Icemen goaltenders would be playing out again against the Icecats Coach Lang said, “not this time, but it just goes to show how dedicated our goalies are to our team’s success.” Tahoe isn’t far behind the Icecats on the powerplay with a 24% success rate.
The Icemen sit second in the league overall with 774 minutes in penalties, with an 81% success rate on the penalty kill let’s hope they can stay out of the box. The Icemen tend to be strong in scoring, and have 118 goals for this season, including 9 goals against the Icecats in their previous match-up. The only team to score more against the Icecats this season was Ogden. The Icemen have 117 goals against this season, and hopefully defense will keep that number from moving much.
The Idaho Icecats have three goalies on their roster. Jacob Hough (30) has a 0.939 save percentage in 15 games this season. Tyler Matthews (33) has a 0.939 save percentage in 11 games. Shaun Brown (35) has a 0.916 save percentage in 15 games.
The Tahoe Icemen have three goalies on their roster as well. Wade Conlan (1) has a 0.912 save percentage in 19 games. Tommy Spero (29) has a 0.909 save percentage in 18 games. Maximilian Haselbacher (30) has a 0.886 save percentage and one assist in 13 games played this season.
Who to watch
Forward Lance Herning (17) has 39 points in 19 games, and is currently on a two-game point streak, with 2 points in his last two games (1 goals and 1 assist).
Defenseman Tristan Phillips (2) leads his team in penalties with 58 minutes in 13 games played.
Forward Paul Frys (14) has 52 points in 27 games and is on a six-game point streak, scoring 15 points (8 goals and 7 assists).
Easton Easterson (9) leads his team with 102 penalty minutes in 12 games this season.
The last time they faced each other, penalty minutes were similar with the Icecats ahead by a single minute, 74-73. The shots were not as even, the Icecats outshooting Tahoe 102-51 over the series. Tahoe tends to shoot more at home, so let’s hope that helps hold off the Icecats. With an almost full bench Tahoe should take at least one from the Icecats.
All games start at 7pm Thursday through Saturday at the Ice Arena at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd. There are 3 beers on tap, the parking is free, and all bleacher seating is open. Tickets are $6. Children 6 and under are free.
By Harper Dial