West Valley City, UT (3/28/2015) – The Idaho Steelheads battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 on Saturday night, forcing overtime and eventually a game-ending shootout before falling to the Utah Grizzlies, 4-3, in front of 7,075 fans at the Maverik Center.
Idaho (45-17-6) picked up a point in the standings despite the loss, giving the team a Pacific-Division best 96 and reducing its magic number to clinch the division championship to just four points.
The Steelheads fell behind 2-0 in the second period on goals from Ray Macias and Ryan Hayes. Idaho answered with a goal of their own at 7:35 when Martin Lee, a former Utah Grizzly, buried his first as a Steelhead from the slot with assists to Jesse Root and Wade MacLeod. It was Lee's sixth of the season overall.
Idaho dug in early in the third as Utah was handed three consecutive power players but the Steelheads' penalty-kill unit stymied each attempt. Moments later, Idaho went on the power play. After a no-call in front of the Utah net that the Steelheads protested, Utah won the ensuing faceoff back to Corey Fienhage. The defenseman launched the puck from below his own goal line the length of the ice and the knuckling puck handcuffed Chris Rawlings in Idaho's net, giving Utah a fluke, short-handed goal to extend its lead to 3-1 at the 8:21 mark of the final period.
The Steelheads showed resilience, though, starting midway through the period. David deKastrozza blew by Macias up the left-wing side, veering into the circle before buring his 17th goal of the season past Eric Levine at 10:50 of the third to cut Utah's lead to a single goal, 3-2. Idaho continued to buzz as the visitors dominated the final ten minutes of regulation, finally tying the game when MacLeod batted a loose puck from Alex Belzile past Levine with exactly four minutes remaining to tie the game at three. The goal was MacLeod's team-leading 36th and the assist extended Belzile's point streak to 11 consecutive games, which is tied for the longest by a Steelhead this season.
Neither team scored from that point on, forcing a game-ending shootout. Jefferson Dahl and Belzile scored for Idaho, but Utah got three tallies in the seven-round shootout - Rawlings getting a piece of each one, but Utah reaping the good fortune of each one just nudging across the goal line for scores to win the game.
Rawlings took his first loss as a Steelhead, making 33 saves on 36 shots and stopping four of seven in the shootout. Levine stopped five of seven in the shootout after picking up 45 saves in live play for the win.
Idaho returns home next week to host the Alaska Aces on Wednesday, April 1, before welcoming the Colorado Eagles back to Boise for games on Friday and Saturday (April 3 and 4) at CenturyLink Arena. The weekend dates will be the team's final charity jersey auction of the season as the team will wear special jerseys to be auctioned off to raise money for the Jayden DeLuca Foundation. Tickets available for all Idaho home games by calling 208-331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Martin Lee (G/A)
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:1) Eric Levine (UT)2) Alex Krushelnyski (UT)3) Mathieu Aubin (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 chips with each ticket. Contact the Steelheads front office at 208.383.0080 or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com for more information.