(Ontario, CA) – Pat Bowen’s power-play goal with just over six minutes to play snapped a 6-6 tie and the Ontario Reign held on for a 7-6 victory over the Idaho Steelheads Sunday afternoon in southern California.
Aaron Lewicki (two goals, one assist) and Derek LeBlanc (one goal, two assists) paced the Steelheads offensively, but Idaho (23-25-6, 52 points) finished the five-game, six-night road trip with an 0-4-1 record. Four of the losses came by one goal.
Following David Fredriksson’s eight goal of the season and a pair of Lewicki tallies, Idaho had a 3-0 lead late in the first period. During a goal-mouth scramble, referee Andy Thackaberry signaled for a goal despite heated protests from the five Steelheads on the ice, including goaltender Bryan Hince. The disputed goal made it 3-1 Idaho after one period.
After a Kyle Kraemer goal got Ontario within one, Idaho stretched the lead out once more on a terrific individual effort from Chad Nehring. Circling behind the net and into the left-hand circle, Nehring was able to get a wrist shot off under heavy pressure from two Ontario players and beat Jean Francois Berube for his tenth goal of the season to make it 4-2 Idaho. After an Ontario goal made it 4-3, Andrei Plekhanov scored on a two-man advantage, his first goal with Idaho, to re-establish the two-goal lead for the Steelheads with less than five minutes to play in the second period.. But the lead didn’t last long. A bouncing puck snuck past Hince at 18:37 of the second period, the goal credited to Kevin Estrada, to make it 5-4 after two.
A LeBlanc rebound goal 43 seconds into the third period gave Idaho the two-goal lead back at 6-4, but goals from Kraemer, Everett Sheen, and Bowen gave the Reign the comeback win. Bowen’s goal came on the power play with 6:14 to play.
Neither goaltender who started finished the game, nor factored in the decision. Jean Francois Berube was pulled after surrendering five goals on 23 shots through two periods. Chris Carrozzi picked up the win, stopping eight of nine Idaho shots in the final frame. Bryan Hince’s night ended midway through the third after giving up six goals on 28 shots. Jerry Kuhn was the tough-luck loser, stopping nine of ten shots in 9:33 of playing time in the third period.
Both teams were excellent on the power play. Idaho converted two of four man advantages into goals. Ontario connected on three of four power plays.
The Steelheads return home on February 22 to host the Utah Grizzlies in Boise. Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office (208.331.TIXS) or by logging on to www.idahosteelheads.com.
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME – Aaron Lewicki
AQUA FINA “3 STARS” -
(1) Derek Couture (ONT)
(2) Geoff Irwin (ONT)
(3) Aaron Lewicki (ID)