Steelheads fall at home, 5-2

Steelheads fall at home, 5-2
Boise, ID (5/5/14) – The visiting Alaska Aces notched a pair of goals in the span of less than 2:30 in the third period, pulling away from a tight game to defeat the Idaho Steelheads, 5-2, at CenturyLink Arena on Monday night. The Aces now lead the best-of -7 Western Conference semifinals, presented by KeyBank, two games to one.

Game 4 will be Wednesday night at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. Tickets are available by logging on to www.idahosteelheads.com.

Alaska got on the board early when Tommy Mele was on the receiving end of a fortunate bounce. After his first, point-blank shot was denied by Josh Robinson, the rebound fell right back onto his tape for a tap-home goal from the top of the crease at 1:55 to put the Aces up, 1-0.

Idaho didn’t wait long to answer, though, as a power-play marker at 4:23 tied the score. Jason Bast’s pass from the right-wing wall was teed up by defenseman Charlie Dodero for a one-time blast from the center point, getting by Alaska goaltender Gerald Coleman to tie the score at 1-1. The goal was Dodero’s first of the postseason.

The Aces came up with a pair of quick goals to open the third as Sean Curry scored through a screen and Brendan Connolly chipped home a rebound to give Alaska a 3-1 lead by the seven-minute mark of the second.

Idaho began to push back, though, creating a goal-mouth scramble and a loose puck that Justin Mercier poked across the goal line to appear to get Idaho back to within a goal. But the play was blown dead by referee Pierre Lambert, negating the goal, to keep Idaho down by a pair.

Minutes later, Idaho would get that second goal on a rush up the left-wing side as Bast centered the puck off Luke Judson’s skate onto William Rapuzzi’s blade for a goal from the low slot at 17:46 to make it a 3-2 game.

The Steelheads came close to knotting it up in the closing seconds of the second, but Brock Montgomery’s redirect from the doorstep was stopped by Coleman’s leg pad.

Idaho did have 1:43 of carry-over power play time to start the third and, after a sluggish start, the power play unit was able to create some pressure but did not convert. The momentum seemed to be building for Idaho, though, as they kept the puck in the offensive zone after the power play had expired, continuing a good shift, before Alaska gained control of the puck.

With their first opportunity of the third, the Aces charged into the zone and Brett Findlay scored from the left-wing circle at 3:35 to wrest momentum back, extending the lead back to two goals at 4-2. Idaho took a pair of penalties in quick succession near the mid-point of the period and Evan Trupp delivered the back-breaker, scoring on the 5-on-3 power play with just over 13 minutes left.

As usual, the Steelheads didn’t go down without some push-back. Mercier was robbed on the doorstep by Coleman and Anthony Nigro – playing for the first time in over a month – had a re-direction scoot just wide of the right-wing post as Idaho tried to battle back into the game.

Coleman picked up the win as he was credited with 20 saves on 22 shots. Josh Robinson took the loss for Idaho, making 29 saves in defeat. Each team would tally once on the power play, Idaho going 1-5 and Alaska going 1-4 on the man advantage. Jason Bast assisted on both goals for the Steelheads.

The all-important Game 4 will be played Wednesday night in Boise with tickets on sale at the CenturyLink Arena box office. Game 5 will also be in Boise on Thursday. At that point, the series would shift back to Anchorage for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7.

COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – William Rapuzzi (G)

CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:
1) Nick Mazzolini (AK)
2) Brendan Connolly (AK)
3) Charlie Dodero (ID)