By Chadd Cripe
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads return to the hockey of their youth tonight at the sold-out Bank of America Centre — dreaming of a championship moment.
Only this time, they aren’t dreaming. The Steelheads are one win away from winning the Kelly Cup in their first ECHL season.
They lead the Florida Everblades 3-0 in the best- of-7 series. Game 4 begins at 7:05 tonight. Game 5, if necessary, is Saturday night at the B of A.
The players tried to contain their excitement Thursday. Not all were successful.
“I’ve been working 20 years to get to this spot here,” said 24-year-old defenseman Darrell Hay, who lost in the finals with Columbia last year. “We’ve been picturing this one game our whole lives, whether it’s road hockey or watching the Stanley Cup Finals, you were thinking, ‘I’m going to be at that spot one day.’
“It’s so surreal right now. It’s kind of like a dream, like ‘Holy God we’re here.’ We’ve got 60 minutes to make the most of it.”
The Steelheads escaped Game 3 on Wednesday with a 1-0 overtime victory. It was another emotional night in a postseason full of them for a Steelheads team that faced elimination three times in the first round.
Hay’s nerves are frayed. He can’t even describe his emotions any more. All he knows is what awaits if the Steelheads win one more game.
“Everybody can taste it now,” he said. “That light at the end of the tunnel is looking pretty big.”
The Steelheads are 3-0 in closeout games this postseason and 7-1 in their history. Two weeks ago, they crushed Gwinnett 5-2 at the B of A to finish off the Western Conference Finals.
“Once you see your opponent on the ropes, you want to knock them out,” Steelheads center Zenon Konopka said. “This team has a knack for the jugular.”