(Stockton, CA) - Three goals in less than three minutes midway through the first period changed the tide of the game Friday evening and the Stockton Thunder rode that momentum to a 7-2 victory over Idaho. Idaho drops to 20-20-5 with the loss, but holds its position in sixth place in the ECHL's Western Conference, two points ahead of the Utah Grizzlies. The Steelheads drew first blood, capitalizing on a defensive-zone blunder by the Thunder. Stockton defenseman Sebastian Owuya had his pocket picked cleanly by Jacob Cepis, giving Cepis a clean lane to the net. The rookie winger did not miss, shooting the puck under Alex Stalock at 5:16 of the first for his team-leading 17th goal of the season, giving Idaho a 1-0 lead. Midway through the first, the tide changed in a big way. Garet Hunt (10:34), Ian O'Connor (12:17), and Kevin Baker (13:20) each netted tallies in less than a three-minute span to take the Idaho lead and turn it into a two-goal deficit after one period. Head coach Hardy Sauter made a change in net, pulling Jerry Kuhn in favor of Bryan Hince following Baker's goal off of an offensive-zone faceoff. Stockton would add three more in the second period to run the lead to 6-1 before Idaho got back on the board. Chad Nehring picked up a rebound and lifted the puck over Stalock after a prolonged goal-mouth battle to make it 6-2, assisted by Tommy Lange and Ian Lowe. The only goal of the third period belonged to Stockton's Matt Foy, setting the final margin at 7-2 in favor of the Thunder. The seven goals matched a season-high allowed by Idaho, done two previous times. Kuhn suffered the loss, while Hince stopped 26 of 30 shots in his Steelheads debut. Stalock was strong in net again, stopping 29 of 31 Idaho shots in the victory. Stockton was 1-3 on the power play while Idaho was 0-1. The same two teams play again Saturday night in the Central Valley with puck drop scheduled for 8:30 PM (Mtn) on KTIK (1350 AM). Idaho returns home on February 8 to host the defending Kelly Cup champion Alaska Aces. Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office (208.331.TIXS) or by logging on to www.idahosteelheads.com. COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Jacob Cepis AQUA FINA "3 STARS" - (1) Garet Hunt (STK) (2) Chris Doyle (STK) (3) Kevin Baker (STK) 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.
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