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Steelheads suffer heart-breaking loss

Friday, May 10th
Steelheads suffer heart-breaking loss

Stockton, CA (5/10/13) - Olivier Roy deflected Austin Smith's penalty shot just wide of the right post with less than two seconds left in regulation Saturday night, allowing the Stockton Thunder to escape with a dramatic, 3-2 win over the Idaho Steelheads on Friday night. With the win, Stockton has taken a three games to one lead in the best-of-seven ECHL Western Conference Finals over Idaho. Game 5 is Saturday night in Stockton. The two teams had played three, down-to-the-wire thrillers to open the series and Friday night would be no different. Neither team could score in the opening frame, but both teams would strike early in the second. First, less than a minute into the second period, Justin Taylor centered a puck from behind the net to Brett Robinson who one-timed a quick shot past Roy from the slot to put Idaho on top. The goal, netted at the 47-second mark of the second period, was Robinson's fourth of the postseason. Just 20 seconds later, Stockton's Harrison Reed tied the game with a shot from the left circle at 1:07 of the second, knotting the game at one goal apiece. The teams would trade several scoring chances over the remainder of the second period, but no pucks found the net. Stockton broke the tie early in the third period on Garet Hunt's tally from the edge of the slot at 2:59 of the third, making it 2-1. Once again, the answer would be immediate. Off the ensuing center-ice faceoff, Idaho rushed the zone, creating a loose puck in front of the net that was poked home by Robinson at 3:13 - just fourteen seconds later - to tie the game at 2-2. Robinson's second of the night, fifth of the postseason was once again assisted by Taylor and also David deKastrozza. Idaho goaltender Josh Robinson came up with several key saves in the third to keep the game tied, including a stop on Nathan Deck from the left circle midway through the third frame. Roy denied Austin Smith at the left post to keep the game tied as well. Stockton came up with a big bounce with less than three minutes left in regulation when Deck's shot from the top of the right circle caromed off the end boards to the left edge of the crease. Maxime Boisclair just beat a sprawling Robinson and Matt Case to the puck, tucking it across the goal line at 17:24 of the third to give the Thunder a one-goal lead at 3-2. Idaho would not go quietly into the night, however. With Robinson pulled from the Idaho net for an extra attacker, the Steelheads pressured the Thunder net. The Thunder would ice the puck with less than ten seconds left in regulation, giving Idaho an offensive zone draw. The Steelheads won the draw and got the puck to the high slot for Gord Baldwin, whose blast just missed the right corner of the net. During the ensuing scramble, the Thunder deliberately knocked the net off its pegs to stop the play, drawing a penalty which resulted in an Idaho penalty shot with 1.4 seconds left in regulation. Steelheads coach Brad Ralph called on his top goal-scorer, Austin Smith, to take the critical shot. Smith carried it down the slot with speed, snapping a shot from the hashmarks toward the top corner of the net, but Roy flashed just enough blocker to deflect it wide of the net to send the home crowd of 4,417 fans into a frenzy. Idaho couldn't muster a shot off the final faceoff as the Thunder held on. Once again, both goaltenders were tremendous. Roy got the win, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Josh Robinson was the tough-luck loser for Idaho, stopping 32 of 35 shots. Neither team converted on the power play, Idaho going 0-2 and Stockton going 0-3. Idaho's penalty-kill unit has now successfully thwarted 28 of the last 29 power plays for the opposition, dating back to the conference semifinals against Ontario. Games 5 is Saturday in Stockton. Game time is 8:30 PM (Mtn). The Steelheads and CenturyLink Arena will once again host a free watch party inside the SportZone on the third floor of CenturyLink Arena. The party is open to fans of all ages with a limited food and drink menu available. Doors open one hour prior to game time. COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Justin Taylor CENTURYLINK THREE STARS: 1) Olivier Roy (STK) 2) Maxime Boisclair (STK) 3) Brett Robinson (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.

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