Fresno Falcons at Idaho Steelheads
(35-21-7, 77 pts) (36-21-6, 78 pts)
2004-05 vs. Idaho: 2-1-1
THE THREE-GAME SERIES:
Although it’s still the regular season, this three-game
series between the Falcons and Idaho Steelheads is a crucial set
of games that will undoubtedly feature playoff intensity from
both clubs. The teams haven’t met since a 3-2 Fresno victory
on Dec. 17 at Save Mart Center. Prior to that, they squared off
in another three-game set in Fresno during the second weekend
of the season. The Falcons went 1-1-1 during those three games
from Oct. 29-31, which included their initial victory of the year
to stem the tide of four straight losses to begin the campaign.
This series begins with Idaho holding a one-point advantage in
the race to clinch the last of four playoff spots in the West
Division. Fresno had been in the fourth spot since Jan. 2 until
the Steelheads swept the Texas Wildcatters on Saturday and Sunday
of this past weekend while the Falcons were idle. Idaho has been
on a tear since early February having gone 15-1-3 over their last
19, which includes an 11-game unbeaten streak coming into the
Fresno arrives in Boise following a 5-0 setback on Tuesday to
the Gwinnett Gladiators, the seventh shutout the team has suffered
this season. The loss also marked the first three-game losing
slide at home since the club’s first three games of the
year at Save Mart Center, the third of which was a 5-2 defeat
to the Steelheads in the opener of their first three-game series.
This week’s three games at the Bank of America Centre kick-off
a five-game road trip for the Falcons, which continues next Tuesday
and Friday at Las Vegas and Bakersfield, respectively. The team
then finishes the regular season campaign with four straight at
home. All three games from Idaho may be heard and/or seen live
on B2 Networks, which will carry the audio webcast for free and
the video webcast on a pay-per-view basis ($6) via the Falcons
home page at www.fresnofalcons.com. The video webcast requires
a high-speed internet connection.
The Falcons enter the Idaho series with the 4th-ranked power play
(18.9%) in the league and the 9th-ranked penalty kill (85.4%),
while the Steelheads are 5th (18.1%) and 7th (86.2%), respectively.
Fresno’s Shaun Sutter is tied for the ECHL lead with 14
power play goals this season.
FALCONS HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE AT THE B OF A CENTRE:
While these three games aren’t the playoffs, the implications
they could have on the playoff race are about as meaningful a
regular season series gets. Fresno and Idaho have met twice in
the post-season, during the final two years of the teams’
tenure in the West Coast Hockey League. The Falcons captured their
only professional championship in Boise by defeating the Steelheads
in double overtime of Game Six of the 2001-02 Taylor Cup Finals.
They then won another series-clinching Game Six on Idaho’s
home ice the next season to advance to their second straight Taylor
Cup Final before eventually losing in seven games to the San Diego
Gulls. Assistant captain Jason Weaver is the only Fresno player
remaining from either of those two Falcons teams.
Brett Jaeger made his first career start against Idaho on Oct.
31, making 33 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss. Jaeger enters the
series with a record of 17-6-6, the ECHL’s 11th-ranked goals
against average of 2.30 and the 7th-ranked save percentage of
93.0%...Dan Tessier returned to action off an injury for the first
time in 10 games on Tuesday. He begins the series second to Shaun
Sutter on the club in points with 50 (21g-29a). Sutter enters
Thursday’s tilt with 51 points on 23 goals and 28 assists…Charles
Simard begins the three-game set as the sixth highest scoring
defenseman in the league with 42 points (7g-35a).
ONE DEADLINE DEAL:
Fresno made one deal at Tuesday’s ECHL trade deadline by
acquiring veteran defenseman Brian Stacey from the Texas Wildcatters
in exchange for rookie d-man Simon Mangos. Stacey, who is slated
to make his Falcons debut Thursday, played 56 games with the Wildcatters
and recorded 18 points (2g-16a) and 24 PIM.