Idaho is now unbeaten in its last five games and has crept to within three points of the fifth-place Thunder in the ECHL’s Western Conference standings.
Stockton shot out of the gates early in front of the home crowd, netting two goals inside the game’s first eight minutes. Chris D’Alvise and Gabriel Levesque put the Thunder up, 2-0, at the 7:14 mark of the first period.
Idaho (27-29-8, 62 points) came up with a big answer, though, just a minute later when Chad Nehring delivered a perfect pass from behind the Stockton net to Ron Meyers at the top of the crease and Meyers scored to cut Stockton’s lead to 2-1.
That play seemed to jump-start the Steelheads, who controlled the rest of the first period and much of the second period as well. Idaho would tie the game on a near-instant replay of its first goal less than 30 seconds into the second when Nehring found Meyers from behind the net for the second time, with Meyers knocked home his second of the night (third of the season) from the top of the crease to tie the game at two.
The visitors would take the lead at the 6:59 mark on the power play. Steven Tarasuk’s blast from the right-hand circle was saved by Thomas Heemskerk, but the rebound rolled right out between the hash marks in the slot for Derek LeBlanc to pounce. LeBlanc’s rebound goal, his team-leading 20th of the season, gave Idaho a 3-2 lead.
Shortly thereafter, though, the Thunder seemed poised to tie the game. Idaho goaltender Jerry Kuhn was out of position after making a save and the puck was rolling to the bottom of the left-hand circle. One of the Thunder skaters appeared to have an easy rebound goal to even the game, but LeBlanc flew into the crease, giving up his body to block the shot and maintain the one-goal lead for Idaho.
Kuhn came up big in the third period for Idaho, with the help of his teammates. Kuhn stopped all thirteen shots he faced in the final period and the team’s forwards and defenseman did an excellent job keeping the puck away on rebounds, allowing the Steelheads to pick up the key two points in the standings with the one-goal victory.
Kuhn stopped 33 of 35 shots in the win for the Steelheads, who were 1-3 on the power play.
With the win, Idaho tightened up the race for fifth place in the ECHL’s Western Conference. Stockton (65 points) and Utah (63 points) remain just ahead of Idaho (62 points) with ten games left in the regular season for the Steelheads.
The Steelheads return home on Friday and Saturday to host the Ontario Reign. Puck drop is at 7:10 PM. 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 – Chad Nehring
AQUA FINA “3 STARS” -
(1) Ron Meyers (ID)
(2) Derek LeBlanc (ID)
(3) Chris D’Alvise (STK)