Stockton, CA (3/13/2015) – Brett Robinson netted a pair of goals and Chris Rawlings turned in his third consecutive steady outing for the Idaho Steelheads Friday night, helping the team defeat the Stockton Thunder, 4-2, in Stockton.
The win was Idaho's 40th of the season and moved the squad to 85 points in the standings, tied for most in the ECHL's Western Conference. It also extended the team's unbeaten-in-regulation streak to an ECHL-era record twelve consecutive games (11-0-1).
Head coach Brad Ralph tinkered with the lineup Friday night, moving defenseman Mike Dalhuisen to forward for the evening and it nearly paid off early on two different occasions. Dalhuisen hit the crossbar with a shot from the slot and then a backhand shot from the top of the crease almost found paydirt, but Stockton's Lucas Gore managed to smother it to keep the game scoreless until the mid-point of the first period. The Thunder ended up scoring first on a tap-in goal from Jack Combs, finishing a nice feed from Vinny Scarsella, at the 11:59 mark to put the home team up, 1-0.
Idaho's response was swift and authoritative. Less than a minute later, Martin Lee's shot from the center point banged off the end boards right to Tom Serratore, who chipped the loose puck past Gore at 12:55. It was Serratore's second goal of the season and Lee's first assist since being acquired on Thursday by the Steelheads. Idaho took the lead barely two minutes later on a delayed penalty as Jake Rutt and Wade MacLeod kept the puck alive near the left edge of the crease and Robinson lifted it past a sprawled Gore at 15:21 to give Idaho a lead it never relinquished at 2-1. Robinson's 19th goal also earned Rutt his first professional point in his second professional game.
That score held into the second when Stockton looked for an early equalizer, but Rawlings came up with a big save on Combs at the right-wing post. Idaho extended its lead when MacLeod gathered a pass from Jefferson Dahl near the right point, spotted a streaking Robinson and delivered a soft pass into the slot for Robinson to cash in on at 2:18 for what turned out to be the game-winning goal, his second of the night and 20th of the season, tying his career-high, set in 2011-12 with Greenville. The two goals also extended his personal point streak to a team-best eleven straight games. Idaho connected on the power play at 6:48 as Shawn Boutin played a puck down the left wing to Alex Belzile at the goal line. Belzile quickly tapped the puck out front to Dahl, all by himself as Gore slid hard toward Belzile, and Dahl put in his ninth goal of the season to make it a 4-1 game.
Stockton had spurts of pressure in the third but the Steelheads, spear-headed by Rawlings, never let the game get in serious danger. The Thunder did net the game's final goal off the rush at 10:04 of the third period, making it 4-2, but Idaho was able to hold on for the win.
Rawlings improved to 3-0 with the Steelheads by stopping 29 of 31 shots. Gore took the loss, allowing four goals on 34 shots as Idaho out-shot Stockton, 34-31. Idaho won the special-teams battle as well, converting on one of three opportunities while blanking the potent Stockton power-play unit on five attempts.
Along with Robinson's two goals, MacLeod finished the night with two assists for the Steelheads and Dahl had a goal and assist.
Idaho and Stockton meet again Saturday night at Stockton Arena. Game time is 8:30 PM (Mtn) and can be heard live in the Treasure Valley on KTIK 1350 AM with the St. Luke's Pre-Game show beginning at approximately 8:15.
The team returns home for a pair of pivotal home games against second-place Colorado on Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21. Game time is 7:10 PM each night. Tickets are available online at www.idahosteelheads.com or by calling 208-331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Wade MacLeod (2A)
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:1) Brett Robinson (ID)2) Wade MacLeod (ID)3) Vinny Scarsella)
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.