Photo Courtesy: Idaho Steelheads
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Monday, April 09, 2012
(Ontario, CA) - Jerry Kuhn denied all 46 shots he faced and Jacob Cepis chipped in with a pair of goals Monday as the Idaho Steelheads defeated the Ontario Reign, 5-0, to advance in the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoffs.
Idaho won the best-of-five series, three games to two, and advances to the conference semifinals against the third-seeded Las Vegas Wranglers. The best-of-seven series will begin next Monday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The first period was a frentic, back-and-forth affair with Idaho netting the only goal when Cepis knocked home a rebound from the bottom of the right circle off a Kory Scoran shot from the perimeter at the 7:50 mark. The 1-0 lead held because of the play of Kuhn, who came up with multiple huge saves. None was bigger than a leg save on Kevin Estrada at the right-hand post just five minutes into the game to, at that point, keep the game scoreless before Cepis broke the ice three minutes later.
The Steelheads blew the game open in the second period. First, on the power play at 8:10, Joe Pereira stuffed home his own rebound to make it 2-0. Cepis came up with an important goal and the 14:15 mark of the second, side-stepping around an Ontario defenseman at the right point, carrying the puck to the top of the crease, and tucking it past Chris Carrozzi to extend Idaho's lead to 3-0. The lead would swell to four when Derek LeBlanc's back-door pass was swiped home by Michael Neal with just two minutes left to go in the second period, effectively removing any doubt as Idaho led, 4-0, after two periods.
Idaho added one more on the power play in the first minute of the third period as Cody Purves beat Jean Francois Berube, who came on to replace Carrozzi at the start of the third, for his second of the playoffs. That goal was assisted by Scoran and Ian Lowe as Idaho's lead ballooned to 5-0. Ontario launched 15 shots at Kuhn in the final frame, but the Steelhead goaltender stood tall with the help of his teammates to finish off the shutout and push the Steelheads into the conference semifinals.
Since joining the ECHL for the 2003-04 season, Idaho has faced four "deciding" games in a playoff series, where one team advances and the other team is eliminated. With the win, Idaho improves to 3-1 in such games with all three wins coming on the road (2004 at Las Vegas, 2011 at Las Vegas, 2012 at Ontario).
Kuhn's 46-save shutout was his first professional playoff shutout. Carrozzi took the loss, giving up four goals on 23 shots before giving way to Berube in the final period. Idaho netted two power-play goals in five opportunities, while Ontario went 0-3 on the man advantage.
Idaho will host home games in the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday, April 19th, Saturday, April 21st, and Sunday, April 22nd (if necessary), at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. Game times and ticket information will be announced on Tuesday.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Jacob Cepis
AQUA FINA "3 STARS" -
(1) Jacob Cepis (ID)
(2) Jerry Kuhn (ID)
(3) Kory Scoran (ID)
Group outings at a Steelheads game are a great way to gather friends, colleagues, or co-workers for a fun night out in downtown Boise. Ticket prices are discounted and you can get a Pepsi, Double-R Ranch Hot Dog, and bag of Tim’s Cascade Chips with each ticket. Contact the Steelheads front office at 208.383.0080 or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com for more information.