West Valley City, UT (4/12/14) – Jason Bast and Justin Mercier each scored a goal in live play and the game-ending shootout as the Idaho Steelheads defeated the Utah Grizzlies, 3-2, on Saturday night in the final regular-season game for each team.
Idaho ends the regular season with a record of 39-26-7 and will be the number four seed in the upcoming ECHL Kelly Cup Western Conference Playoffs. Games 1 and 2 of the opening-round series against either Colorado or Bakersfield will be Friday and Saturday in Boise. Idaho will learn its opponent on Sunday.
Utah took the early lead on a DJ Jelitto power-play goal at the 3:19 mark of the first period as the Grizzlies applied intense early pressure. Idaho would find its legs midway through the period, tying the game on a Jason Bast wrist shot from the right-wing circle at the 11:35 mark of the first period, his sixth goal since joining the Steelheads less than a month ago.
The Grizzlies took the lead back on a Martin Lee shot from the slot at the 8:51 mark of the second period but Idaho would answer less than 90 seconds later when Justin Mercier lifted a backhand past Aaron Dell at 10:19 of the period, finishing a rush initiated by defenseman Charlie Dodero, to even the score at 2-2. The goal, Mercier's 18th of the season, extended his point streak to six consecutive games - a span where he has notched eleven points.
Neither team would score in the third as Pat Nagle stoned DJ Jelitto on a short-handed break midway through the period to keep the score even into overtime. Both goaltenders collected seven saves in the five-minute overtime period to send the game to a shootout.
In the shootout, Bast slipped a shot five-hole, Mitch Wahl beat Dell with a backhand and Mercier deeked backhand-to-forehand for three tallies while Nagle turned aside three of the five Utah shooters to clinch the win for the Steelheads.
The two teams played 14 times during the regular season - nine of the contests were decided by one goal.
Idaho will open the playoffs at home on April 18 and 19 at CenturyLink Arena. The opponent is undecided at this point but tickets are on sale at the CenturyLink Arena box office or by calling 331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Jason Bast (G, A)
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:1) Aaron Dell (UT)2) Charles Sarrault (UT)3) TJ Battani (UT)
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.