By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho — Ask Dayton Bombers head coach Derek Clancey to describe his team and his answer will only take one word.
“Boring,” Clancey said.
And he likes it that way.
“We’re a simple team,” Clancey said. “We’re not gifted with a tremendous amount of skill players. We play within a structure and we’re going to play our game and not change much.”
Idaho Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal has watched video of the Bombers and he knows that Idaho will be facing a hard-working team when it begins the Kelly Cup Finals at 7:10 on Wednesday at Qwest Arena.
“They’re a meat-and-potatoes team that works hard, and it’s been a successful recipe,” Laxdal said.
Laxdal spent some time going over the Bombers’ tendencies with his players after Tuesday’s practice. But he has emphasized in the week leading up to the finals that he’s more concerned with how his own team plays than with Dayton’s strategy. That message seems to have sunk in.
“We’ve just got to stay with our game plan and do the things that we’ve done that have made us successful,” veteran forward Lance Galbraith said.
One of the key match-ups of the series will be the teams’ goaltenders. Dayton’s Adam Berkhoel was the ECHL goaltender of the year, and Idaho’s Steve Silverthorn is matching — if not besting — Berkhoel’s play in the postseason.
“Any time you get to a championship series, whether it’s the American Hockey League or the NHL or the ECHL, goaltending has played a key part,” Laxdal said.
That’s certainly true in these finals.
“I talked to a couple of coaches who played against (Idaho) during the year,” Clancey said. “And they felt that he was a big part of (the Steelheads’ success).”
The two goalies have logged more minutes than any other ECHL goalie in the postseason. Silverthorn has 12 playoff wins, while Berkhoel has 11. Each has three shutouts in the postseason.
“Berkhoel has played outstanding for them and Silverthorn has been outstanding for us,” Laxdal said. “So it’s a great match-up between two solid goaltenders.”
It’s been more than a week since Idaho finished the National Conference Finals, but Silverthorn vowed he wouldn’t be rusty.
“At this point of the season, if you’re not sharp there’s something wrong with you,” he said.