Five different players scored Wednesday night, including a pair of goals from Anthony Nigro, as the Idaho Steelheads defeated the visiting Stockton Thunder, 6-3, at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.
Along with Nigro's pair of tallies, Patrick Cullity chipped in three points and Mitch Wahl extended his point streak to an ECHL-best twelve straight games with a second-period goal for Idaho (10-5-4, 24 points), which has now picked up at least one point in the standings in ten of its past 11 games.
The Steelheads scored twice early in the first to take a two-goal lead. First, it was Cullity from the left-wing circle off a deflected Tommy Grant centering pass as he went high glove at 5:59 of the opening frame. Then, at 9:39, William Rapuzzi slipped a backhand through Brian Foster's legs on a mini-breakaway to give Idaho a 2-0 lead.
It didn't take Stockton long to answer, though, as Michal Spacek and Garet Hunt each scored in a span of 1:58 to even the game up at two goals apiece with 9:15 left in the first period. With the score tied at two, a major penalty and game misconduct were issued to Idaho's Brett Robinson, giving the league's top power-play unit a five-minute man advantage. Idaho killed off the first two minutes of the major before a pair of Stockton penalties in rapid succession put Idaho on the man advantage. At 15:54 of the first, Cullity's pass from the center point found Nigro at the right edge of the crease for a quick one-timer past Foster to give Idaho a lead it would not relinquish.
Idaho's lead grew early in the third after a big hit from Mitch Wahl on Stockton's Ryan Constant led to a Thunder turnover behind the Stockton net. Austin Fyten gathered the loose puck and quickly centered it out front to Justin Mercier, who found himself all alone with Foster near the top of the crease. Mercier played the puck along to Wahl at the 29-second mark of the second frame for a goal from the bottom of the left circle, his seventh, to extend his point streak and Idaho's lead to 4-2.
A Mercier wrist shot from the left circle gave Idaho a 5-2 lead at 3:38 of the third period, seeming to salt the game away, but a Brayden Irwin goal at 12:15 of the final period put Stockton in business. Idaho's Pat Nagle came up with a couple key saves to stem the tide and Nigro's shot from the left circle snuck past Foster at 16:50 to re-establish Idaho's three-goal lead at 6-3 to seal the victory for the Steelheads. Nigro now leads the Steelheads with ten goals and his 23 points moved him into a tie for fourth in the ECHL in scoring.
Nagle picked up his fifth win in net with 24 saves on 27 shots. Foster took the loss, surrendering six goals on 41 shots. Idaho's penalty-kill unit was a perfect five-for-five while the power play was 1-5.
Idaho's season-long, eleven-game homestand resumes Wednesday when the Stockton Thunder come to town on Dollar Beer Night, presented by Bud Light. Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office at 208-331-8497.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Brock Montgomery (2A)
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:
1) Patrick Cullity (ID)
2) Anthony Nigro (ID)
3) Tyler Elbrecht (ID)