By Jordan Rodriguez
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho — Prior to Wednesday night’s Kelly Cup Finals series opener against Dayton, Idaho Steelheads forward Francis Wathier had not scored a goal in this year’s ECHL playoffs.
While the Bombers went on to score in the final minutes and escape with a 2-1 victory, it would be a big boost for Idaho if Wathier can continue to score.
“I’ve got some size and that’s something I have to use to my advantage,” Wathier said. “I was able to get in front and deflect one in tonight and hopefully I will be able to do more of that.”
Wathier, a 22-year-old forward, spent most of the season with the Iowa Stars, Idaho’s AHL affiliate. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he possesses the size and skill to make his presence felt in front of the net.
That’s where Wathier was when he scored Idaho’s lone goal of Game 1. He used his broad shoulders to screen Berkhoel and was able to redirect Peters’ low, line drive over the sprawling netminder.
“That’s how you have to beat Berkhoel,” Idaho coach Derek Laxdal said. “He takes away the bottom half of the net, so you have to get deflections and get that puck over him.”
If Wathier can sustain a physical presence in front of the Dayton net, he’s sure to cause headaches for Berkhoel and the Bombers as the series moves along.
“I just want to help the team however I can,” Wathier said. “I have been given a great opportunity to win a Cup, so I just want to be physical, get to the front of the net and help my team win.”