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Steady Steelheads top Stockton, 4-1

Saturday, March 29th
Steady Steelheads top Stockton, 4-1

Stockton, CA (3/28/14) – Jason Bast and Justin Mercier each registered three points, including teaming up for a back-breaking, third-period short-handed goal as the Idaho Steelheads registered a 4-1 win over the Stockton Thunder on Friday night.

Idaho (35-25-7) has now picked up wins in five of its past seven games and, coupled with Colorado's loss to Utah, has moved into fourth place in the ECHL's Western Conference standings.  The top four seeds will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Kelly Cup playoffs in April.

After an even start to the contest, Idaho would net a pair of goals late in the frame to seize control.  The first tally came as a result of quick passes from Bast to Luke Judson near the left edge of the trapezoid and then Judson through the slot to a streaking Mercier and Mercier blasted home his 12th of the season at 16:03 to give Idaho a 1-0 lead.  Moments later, following a Stockton penalty, Tommy Grant took a quick wrist shot from the right-wing half wall.  As he took the shot, Brett Robinson skated in front of Parker Milner to create a screen, allowing the puck to sneak by Milner and into the net for a power-play tally at 18:33 to give Idaho a 2-0 lead after one period.

Stockton cut the lead in half early in the second period as Joe Diamond created a loose puck with an aggressive forecheck hit on Idaho's Dalton Reum.  Diamond picked up the puck and fed Ryan Hayes for the tap-in goal at 3:24 of the second to make it 2-1.  Idaho answered quickly, though, with another power-play marker when Mercier fed Bast in the slot for a one-timer under the crossbar at 7:29 to up the lead to 3-1.  Idaho had chances to extend the lead but Milner stoned two breakaways and a two-on-one rush before the end of the second period to keep the Thunder within shouting distance.

The Thunder generated some early pressure in the third and picked up a power-play opportunity near the midway mark of the third, still down 3-1, but Idaho delivered the knockout punch when Landon Oslanski lost the puck to Mercier, triggering a two-on-one, short-handed rush.  Mercier led the rush up the right-wing side before delivering a perfect pass to Bast near the left edge of the crease for his second goal of the night, fifth in eight games with the team, to extend the lead to 4-1.  Stockton didn't seriously threaten after that.

Josh Robinson picked up the win in net for Idaho with a steady, 21-save performance in net to collect his 11th win of the season.  Milner played better than his final line would indicate in the loss, allowing four goals on 23 shots.

Idaho's power play unit converted twice on five chances while the penalty-kill unit was a perfect four-for-four against the league's top-ranked power-play unit.

Bast (two goals, assist), Mercier (goal, two assists) and Luke Judson (two assists) all registered multi-point nights for Idaho.

Idaho wraps up its road trip to the Central Valley of California with another game in Stockton on Sunday.  Puck drop is 5 PM (Mtn) with the St. Luke's Pre-Game show hitting the air at 4:45 on KTIK (1350 AM) in the Treasure Valley.

The Steelheads have two home games left, April 4 and 5 against the same Colorado Eagles.  Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office at 208-331-8497.

COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME –  Justin Mercier (G, 2A)

CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:1)    Jason Bast (ID)2)    Justin Mercier (ID)3)    Ryan Hayes (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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