Stockton, CA (12/21/14) – The Stockton Thunder netted a pair of goals in the game's first three minutes and got 33 saves from Shane Owen Sunday afternoon as they managed to hold off the Idaho Steelheads, 4-2, at Stockton Arena.
Idaho goes into the Christmas holiday break at 17-10-2 (36 points), in first place in the ECHL's Pacific Division. Idaho resumes play on Friday, December 26, when the second-place Ontario Reign (33 points) come to CenturyLink Arena.
Playing its fourth game in five nights, Idaho was hampered by a slow start. Colton Beck was whistled for a penalty 59 seconds into the game and Stockton capitalized immediately on Keith Seabrook's shot from the high slot at 1:12. Two minutes later, Tyler Shattock and Tyler Maxwell executed a nice, two-on-one rush with Maxwell getting the goal at 3:10 to extend the early lead to 2-0 before the announced crowd of 3,752 could setting into the seats.
From that point on, Idaho dominated the first period. Ludwig Karlsson had five shots on net in the opening frame and was twice denied by nice saves from Owen, but the Steelheads did get a fortunate break to get on the board at 8:55 of the period. On the power play, David deKastrozza spotted Brett Robinson creeping toward the right-wing post. deKastrozza's pass across the top of the crease hit the skate of Stockton's Austin Levi and caromed into the Stockton net, deKastrozza's 10th of the season, to make it a 2-1 game.
Stockton nearly added to the lead in the second but an Alex Mallet shot rang off the post. Minutes later, with Eamonn McDermott serving a penalty, Gaelan Patterson blocked a shot near the left-wing point in the defensive zone. James Livingston picked up the loose puck and had Stockton defenseman Adam Phillips caught in no-man's land, so he was off to the races on a short-handed breakaway. Livingston beat Owen glove-side at 14:59 for his seventh goal of the season. The short-handed marker was Idaho's sixth of the season when down a man - five of them against Stockton.
The Thunder got a big goal late in the period when JT Barnett got to the front of the net and banged home a rebound from in close at 17:58 of the second. For the second straight night, Idaho would challenge the entire third period but Owen came up with key saves and the Thunder skaters cleared out the rebounds he left. Down the stretch, a loose puck evaded Owen and rolled toward the post as Jason Bast approached for an apparent tap-in goal to tie the game, but Mallet was able to tie up Bast's stick at the last second to negate the opportunity.
Tyler Maxwell concluded his personal three-point night with an empty-net goal inside the final 20 seconds to provide the final, two-goal margin for Stockton as the Thunder won by a final of 4-2.
Olivier Roy took the loss in net for Idaho, stopping 22 of 25 shots. Owen wobbled at times but rarely broke, keeping 33 of Idaho's 35 shots out of the net. Each team netted one power-play goal on four attempts.
Idaho returns to the ice on December 26 when the Ontario Reign come to town. Tickets are available by calling 208-331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – James Livingston (G)
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:(1) Tyler Maxwell (STK)(2) Shane Owen (STK)(3) Austin Levi (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 chips with each ticket. Contact the Steelheads front office at 208.383.0080 or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com for more information.