By John Wustrow, Idaho Press
BOISE — Almost five years after they shared one of the best moments of their hockey careers, a trio of Idaho Steelhead players got to share another special moment together on Wednesday.
Reid Petryk scored a second period goal for Idaho in a 5-2 win against the Tulsa Oilers, with Henrik Samuelsson and Mitch Moroz picking up assists. It was a throwback to 2014 when the three players made up one of the most feared lines for the top major junior hockey team in North America.
After getting Samuelsson back from the Rockford IceHogs last week, the Steelheads now have three key pieces from the 2013-14 Edmonton Oil Kings, who ended the season raising the Memorial Cup.
“It’s a deep bond and unique friendship we’ve formed over the years,” said Moroz. “We’ve stayed in touch through our first five years of pro hockey. It’s just pretty cool to reconnect here in Idaho, in such a great spot and a winning culture. We’re all starved to push for a championship down the stretch here.”
Samuelsson and Moroz also had assists on goals by A.J. White and Kyle Schempp in the first period and Geoff Crisfield had his first career ECHL goal in the second period, as Idaho took over first place in the ECHL Mountain Division standings. Kale Kessy added an empty net goal for Idaho late in the game and Tomas Scholl made 38 saves.
All three former Oil Kings have come up big for the Steelheads this year, with Petryk and Moroz both serving as alternate captains. Petryk is second on the team with 18 goals and also has 20 assists. Moroz now has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) on the season, while Samuelesson scored goals in his first two games back with the Steelheads last week.
The three aren’t the only connection for the Steelheads to the 2014 Oil Kings. That team was coached by Derek Laxdal, who coached the Steelheads from 2005-10 and is currently the coach of the Texas Stars, Idaho’s American Hockey League affiliate.
Laxdal played a large role in getting his three former players to Idaho.
“It definitely doesn’t hurt when you have one of your former coaches that you had a lot of success with and won a Memorial Cup with in that same organization,” said Idaho coach Neil Graham. “There’s a level of familiarity. Lax coached in Idaho, he knows the city, he knows the arena, he knows the program. So, obviously, to have him speak highly of our organization is terrific.”
The trio played on the same line in Edmonton for much of the later part of the 2014 season, into the Western Hockey League finals. After the Oil Kings fell behind 2-0 in the series, Laxdal changed the lineup to give Edmonton a spark. The move worked as the Oil Kings won the series in seven games.
In the Memorial Cup semifinals, Edmonton beat the Val-d’Or Foreurs 4-3 in triple overtime before beating the Guelph Storm 6-3 in the championship. Moroz scored the winning goal in the second period and Samuelsson added two insurance goals in the third.
The trio accounted for 111 goals and 170 assists that regular season, WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup tournament combined.
“We were a big line, we were a physical line,” Petryk said. “We always had a good cycle going. We could jam pucks in and we had skill, too, so we could score. It was a fun line to be on.”
After the season, all three players left to begin their professional careers and Laxdal was hired as the Stars coach. Moroz and Samuelsson had been drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes, respectively, and began their careers in their systems.
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