The Steelheads’ first ever visit to Kansas City brought one of their most impressive efforts, a comeback win capped off by the Captain.
In the middle of their season-long eight-game road trip, the Steelheads had already swept three games from the Utah Grizzlies. Their first night in Missouri saw their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 4-2 defeat on February 24th, and the following night they faced a real threat of seeing their visit to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena pass without a victory.
The final meeting of the season between the two teams was significant, with the playoff race starting to take shape and the Mavericks closing to within eight points of Idaho with two games in hand. It appeared that gap might narrow even more when the Mavericks opened up a 3-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. Some defensive zone mistakes and some bad puck-luck led to a Dane Fox goal one minute in, a Dan Correale rebound goal four minutes in, and a goal for Reed Seckel at 9:06.
Brian Nugent kicked off a big night with work around the net to get Idaho on the board. He was the second half of a double-deflection, when he and Jefferson Dahl both got a piece of a Travis Walsh shot to fool goaltender and former Steelhead Josh Robinson for Nugent’s fourth goal of the season at 12:25. That relief was short-lived, however, as the Mavericks answered right back when Darren Nowick scored on a deflection of his own two minutes later.
Already down three at the start of the second, the Steelheads would certainly need to get their offensive motors going quickly to give themselves time to climb back in. The combination of Nugent and Lain did just that, scoring 1:38 into the middle frame to start the Steelhead comeback.
Chasing an offensive zone dump-in, Nugent muscled his way in on the forecheck and stole the puck away from the Maverick defense. A quick pass out in front found Lain for his 11th goal of the season.
The Steelhead power play was a key during their road trip, and it came up big again in Kansas City when Anthony Luciani’s one-timer rocketed over Robinson’s blocker at the midway point of the second, as the Steelheads took advantage of a 6-on-4 with another delayed call on the way.
The Steelheads finally drew even in the final minute of the second, when it was again Brian Nugent getting the job done after walking off the right-wing wall and firing a wrist shot past Robinson to tie the game 4-4. Nugent had his first two-goal game as a Steelhead, and his first three-point game with Idaho, on what would be a very solid road trip. Nugent would collect five goals and seven points before returning to Boise.
After an offensive bonanza in the first 40 minutes, both teams locked down in the third period. Branden Komm would stop all 12 Missouri attempts, while the Steelhead power play would come through one last time with the help of a little deception.
With 12:31 left in regulation, and Idaho up a man, Rob Linsmayer tried to throw a puck to the front of the net from the right-wing corner. That’s where Lain was battling for position with Luke Juha. Just as the puck reached Lain at the top of the crease, Lain’s stick was lifted up. As Robinson reacted to Lain, the puck continued to slide across to the uncovered Jefferson Dahl. Dahl slammed the puck into an open net for his 15th goal of the season and Idaho’s fist lead.
That’s all the Steelheads would need, as they grabbed two points and headed off to Rapid City with their sixth win in eight games. Coming back from two different three-goal deficits, it was Idaho’s most challenging comeback win of the year.