Youngstown returns to the ice Wednesday at New Mexico.
By GREG GULAS
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown SteelHounds will never have a better four-game start than what they've produced in their second season.
Brad Patterson, John Neal, Jeff Christian and Chris Shaffer scored goals Saturday at the Chevrolet Centre as the Steelounds defeated the Rocky Mountain Rage, 4-2, for their fourth straight victory.
"Obviously it's a great feeling to go 4-0," SteelHounds coach Kevin Kaminski said after his team swept the two-game home series. "I have to give our guys credit, especially in the second and third periods tonight."
Saturday's game picked up where Friday's chippy affair (a 5-4 overtime win) left off. Three seconds into the game, Youngstown's Jason Spence and Rocky Mountain's Adam Stefishen earned fighting major penalties.
First shot, a goal
And for the third straight game, the Rage scored a goal on their first shot of the game. This time, Mark Wires scored a power-play goal midway through the first period, beating goaltender Brad Roberts.
With 2:24 remaining in the opening period, the SteelHounds tied the game on Patterson's first goal of the season, beating Rage goalie David Guerrera. Defenseman Paul Esdale assisted for his eighth point.
"We're coming together and playing hard," Patterson said after his two-point game. "Our start doesn't surprise me."
Neal broke the tie with a goal about four minutes into the second period. Mark Johnson and Shaun Landolt assisted.
Three minutes later, Esdale fed Christian near the right of the net and Christian converted the pass into his fourth goal of the season.
In the third period, Patterson set up Shaffer for a 4-1 lead.
Dorian Anneck netted a power-play goal for the Rage to close out the scoring.
"I thought in the first period, we were a little too fancy -- we had 'dangle-itis,' " Kaminski said.
The SteelHounds' first-year coach was happier with his team's performance in the final 40 minutes.
"We were patient with our forecheck, keeping everything to the outside," Kaminski said.
Now, the SteelHounds hit the road for five games in the Desert Southwest.
They will play in New Mexico on Wednesday and Friday, and then in Amarillo, Texas, on Saturday. After games in Arizona on Nov. 10-11, the SteelHounds will play six straight at home beginning with Tulsa on Nov. 16-18.
"I feel we're ready for the road," Kaminski said. "If we play like we did in the second and third periods tonight, we'll do a lot of damage. We just need to be road warriors."
The SteelHounds outshot the Rage, 36-25. They opened the Central Hockey League season last weekend in Memphis with two wins over the RiverKings.