Playoff Hockey. It’s what we wait all season for. We expect the games to be exciting and some to push to an overtime thriller. How about four overtimes? An epic game. One for the record books in the ECHL. Game 6 between the Colorado Eagles and the Idaho Steelheads went into the early hours of the morning before Steelheads forward David de Kastrozza fired the puck past Eagles goaltender Marc Cheverie to end it with a little more than two minutes left in the fourth overtime of a 2-2 draw.
“I couldn’t believe how open of a net I had,” said de Kastrozza about the goal that ended the game. “When I got it, my leg kind of seized up trying to get to that spot and I just shot it in and was grateful that the snow didn’t stop it.”
The Steelheads now move on to the semifinals of the Kelly Cup playoffs after eliminating the Colorado Eagles 3-2 in what is now the longest ECHL game in it’s 26 year history. The previous ECHL record, held by a four-overtime game held between Elmira and Trenton in 2009 was beat by over 10 minutes with a total game time of 137:18.
Colorado took the lead early in the second period with goals by Alex Hudson and Luke Fulghum to give them the edge 2-0. The Steelheads could not answer back until the third period with two goals of their own to tie the game.
“They gave us everything we could handle, they had a great start to the game, we were a little flat,” said Steelheads Coach Brad Ralph. “It was good to see our team rebound in the third. We believed we could still win the hockey game.”
Idaho’s Gaelan Patterson got the puck to the back of the net after a scramble in front of Eagles netminder Cheverie to cut the lead in half 2-1. Sixteen seconds later, Justin Mercier caught a pass from Brett Robinson at the blueline to tie the game 2-2 and send the game into overtime. The Steelheads Luke Judson nearly got the puck past Cheverie on a rebound in the first five minutes of overtime, but both Cheverie and Eagles Mark Nemec dove to keep his shot from finding the back of the net. The game then turned to an epic goaltending duel between Josh Robinson and Cheverie as both goalies made save after incredible save to keep their team alive.
“They made some unbelievable saves to keep this game alive, both goalies,” said Steelheads Coach Brad Ralph on the goaltending efforts. “Josh Robinson stood on his head and made some acrobatic saves. Both those guys should be credited with that game.”
Both goalies combined to face a record 151 shots. Josh Robinson broke the record for most saves in an ECHL game with 83 while Cheverie saved 63 of the 66 he faced. Robinson said that his saves became a blur after a while and he knew he didn’t want to come back the next day and play a game 7.
“I just focused on the puck and I wasn’t thinking at all,” Robinson said about his mindset during the overtime periods. “It was the only way to do it. You can’t let yourself get in your head.”
Late in the fourth overtime, as both teams’ energy waned, Steelheads forwards David de Kastrozza and William Rapuzzi still had a spring in their skate stride. Idaho made a series of shots, sending Cheverie to make some quick saves. de Kastrozza took advantage of an open chance and made a soft pass to the back of the net to put an end to the insanity.
“What a testament to both teams, everyone fought hard,” said Steelheads Head Coach Ralph. “I don’t think you saw one player take a shift off, everyone was playing for each other and we were glad to get the win.”
As the Idaho team celebrated to close out the series, the Eagles team literally collapsed on the ice, from the mental and physical exhaustion of being eliminated in the first round.
“It’s a disappointing way to go out, but I’m not disappointed in the players, ” said Eagles Head Coach Chris Stewart. “They worked really hard and I am proud of them.”
The Steelheads will next face the Brabham Trophy Winner Alaska Aces in the Kelly Cup semifinals which begin on Thursday up in Anchorage. Idaho will hopefully get in some rest before taking on the offensive talent of Aces Peter Sivak, Brendan Connolly and Captain Nick Mazzolini along with Brent Findlay and Jordan Morrison.