A pair of goals by both Akil Thomas and Jason Robertson were enough to beat the Steelheads in a 4-2 loss at the Meridian Centre on Thursday night. Goals from rookie James Hardie and Richard Whittaker were the only dents the Steelheads could make in the IceDogs defence on the night.
A less than ideal start awaited the Trout on Thursday night, three first period goals by the IceDogs left the Steelheads searching for answers heading back to their dressing room. The scoring was opened by Jason Robertson just one minute and 26 seconds into the opening frame a nice play by Robertson to knock down a puck and get it under control was rewarded by a tap-in at the far post for his 44th of the season. A further look by the refs determined that the Robertson play was in fact onside, and set the IceDogs offence into motion for the night. The Trout would fight back and earn a power play just moments later, the best opportunity created on the man-advantage was for not as Richard Whittaker and Cole Schwindt got their signals crossed on a play in the slot. The IceDogs would double their advantage just short of the midway point of the period on the power play, a crisp passing play ended with cross-ice feed from Matt Brassard to Akil Thomas at the faceoff dot, the LA Kings pick fired the puck past Jacob Ingham. There was one more IceDogs goal to report in the first, and it was Thomas again. On this occasion Ben Jones was the setup man, Thomas darted for the back post off the rush and Jones was able to find the speedy centre.
The Steelheads would improve their play in the second, the period saw the Trout outshoot their opponents 16-9. All the tests on Stephen Dhillon would eventually yield a goal for James Hardie, the rookie received a pass from CJ Clarke and held off Drew Hunter who was right on his back, before muscling a puck through the legs of Stephen Dhillon. The marker was Hardie’s 15th of the campaign. Chances for both Whittaker and Carter would follow, the Captain made a nice play to go wide on a defender and then push around the net. His attempt to sneak the puck in on the wraparound attempt was only barely thwarted by Dhillon, who was lucky to smother the puck and get a quick whistle. The IceDogs would get the biggest chance for the rest of the period, but Jacob Ingham would go full-splits to deny Kirill Maksimov of his 41st goal of the season. The Trout trailed by two after two with the score 3-1.
The Steelheads would make the game interesting six minutes and 13 seconds into the third. Alan Lyszczarczyk’s team-leading 78th point of the season came by way of an assist after Richard Whittaker deflected home his wrist shot from the right-hand side for his 11th goal of the season. For four minutes the Steelheads searched for a tying goal but were unable to generate the marker they needed but the comeback was halted in its tracks by Jason Robertson’s 45th of the season and second of the game. The forward pounced on a rebound that Ingham kicked out into the slot and then made a nice backhand move before shelving his shot over the outstretched Ingham. The game would get chippy following the insurance goal and saw 16 penalties handed out before the end of the game between the two sides.
Some notes from the game; James Hardie’s 15th goal of the season pulls him even with Owen Tippett for the second most by a Steelhead rookie only Alexander Nylander (28) scored more as a rookie in the 2015-16 season. Alan Lyszczarczyk is heating up again, the winger has four points in his last three games.
The loss drops the Steelheads to 31-27-5-2 on the season, but a Peterborough OT loss to Ottawa means the Steelheads remain in possession of 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The Steelheads will return to action tomorrow night against the North Bay Battalion who came out victorious against the Hamilton Bulldogs by a score of 3-1. Puck drop is 7:00 PM at Paramount Fine Foods Centre.