(Ontario, CA) – Mark Derlago and Evan Barlow each scored twice, backing a strong relief effort in net by Jerry Kuhn as the Idaho Steelheads rallied past the Ontario Reign Saturday night, 6-4, in the final game of the regular season.
The game was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 9,592 at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Ontario scored twice in the first 2:38 of the game as Michael Pelech and Justin Taylor notched goals to give the home team a quick 2-0 lead. Mark Derlago’s 44th marker of the year at 5:09 got the Steelheads off the mat, but Alex Bourret’s 12th of the campain re-established a two-goal lead for the Reign midway through the first period. Head coach Hardy Sauter made a change in net, replacing Adrien Lemay with Jerry Kuhn after the third goal and Kuhn quickly stared down the barrel of a penalty shot, but Aaron Lewadniuk couldn’t convert. Evan Barlow’s 17th of the season from Cody Purves and Kael Mouillierat at 15:38 of the first capped a wild first 20 minutes of action as the Reign took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
Idaho (32-27-13) took control of the game in the second period. First, it was Mouillierat finishing a fine feed from Tyler Ludwig to tie the game at three. Then, at 5:47 of the second, Evan Barlow’s acrobatic finish of a perfect Tristan King pass put Idaho on top, 4-3. Idaho would extend the lead two and a half minutes later when King found Derlago and Derlago found the twine for the second time on the evening, his 45th of the season, giving the Steelheads had a 5-3 lead.
CJ Stretch got Ontario (27-38-6) to within a goal on the power-play at 12:31 of the second, but that would be as close as the Reign would get. Kuhn took control of the game in net for Idaho and Aki Seitsonen added a third-period insurance goal as the Steelheads finished the regular season with the come-from-behind victory.
Kuhn was the winning netminder in relief, turning aside 16 of 17 Reign shots over the last two and a half periods. Beau Erickson took the loss, giving up five goals on 20 shots before giving way to former Steelhead Jase Weslosky in the second period. Weslosky stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced.
Ontario was 1-3 on the power play while Idaho came up empty on its only power play of the evening.
The Steelheads open the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs on Tuesday in Las Vegas against the Wranglers. The best-of-five series starts in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena before shifting back to Boise for Game Three on Friday night.
The ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and the Idaho Steelheads are out to defend their conference title from last season. Fans can lock in their favorite seat for every possible home playoff game while saving up to 35 percent off the walk-up prices with the “Pay as We Play” playoff ticket plan. Contact the Steelheads front office at 208.383.0080 or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com for more information.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Mark Derlago
AQUA FINA THREE STARS
1) Mark Derlago (ID)
2) Evan Barlow (ID)
3) CJ Stretch (ONT)