Dayton’s Incredible Turnaround Season Finally Ends

By Debbie Juniewicz
Contributing Writer
Dayton Daily News

FAIRBORN, Ohio — The Dayton Bombers survived postseason elimination four times in the playoffs. No. 5 didn’t go their way.

The Idaho Steelheads claimed their second ECHL Kelly Cup with a 4-1 win over the Bombers in front of 3,023 at the Nutter Center on Thursday night. Idaho won the Cup in 2004.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal, whose team won the best-of-seven series 4-1. “I’m fully expecting to get up tomorrow for practice.”

Idaho left wing John Lammers set the tone, opening the scoring late in the first period. While the Bombers outshot the Steelheads 14-5 in the opening period, Idaho led 1-0 at the break.

Steelheads center Greg Rallo wasted little time posting Idaho’s second goal of the night less than four minutes into the second period. While the visitors had tallied only six shots-on-goal, they led 2-0.

Dayton forward Tim Konsorada got the Bombers on the board in the closing seconds of the second period, forcing in a puck that took a funny bounce off the boards behind the net. The Steelheads led 2-1 after 40 minutes.

But former Bomber Lance Galbraith put the game out of reach with a third-period Idaho goal, and Lammers added one for good measure for the Steelheads to close out the scoring.

“Dayton was a great opponent, and they gave us a great battle,” Laxdal said. “But those first three series — Stockton, Vegas and Alaska — really prepared us for this.”

That preparation was obvious to Bombers coach Don MacAdam.

“There was not a weakness on their team,” MacAdam said. “They were smothering defensively, and every line was solid.”

The Steelheads net-minding also was close to perfect as Kelly Cup MVP Steve Silverthorn turned away 33 shots to collect his 16th playoff win and 52nd win of the season.

“He’s absolutely incredible; his focus is unbelievable,” Laxdal said of his goaltender.

Kelly Cup aside, the Bombers’ single-season turnaround also was unbelievable. After finishing last season in the North Division cellar, the Bombers earned their second Kelly Cup Finals appearance in the team’s history.

“It was a tremendous year, the regular season and the playoffs,” MacAdam said. “There shouldn’t be one person on this team hanging his head.”