Idaho Steelheads Report: Bad First Period Puts Idaho on the Brink

Brett Robinson scored in Game 4, but it was too little too late for the Steelheads.
(Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
The Idaho Steelheads are up against it, down 3-1 in their series. John Mulhern gives us the details of a not-so-pretty Game 4 and looks ahead to tonight's Game 5...

The Alaska Aces scored four goals in the first period on Wednesday night and that would be all they would need as they ran Josh Robinson out of the game, and would hold the Steelheads to 20 total shots en route to a 4-2 victory in Game 4 to earn a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The Idaho Steelheads defense once again let them down as the Aces were able to control the puck in the offensive zone and put pucks toward the net at will. It took just about 13 minutes for the Aces to capitalize on a few Steelheads defensive miscues to push them to the brink of elimination.

The Steelheads would win the last two periods on the scoreboard, but by that point it really was all academic as the Aces had taken their foot off the gas after the first period. Statistically, it was Josh Robinson’s worst outing of the playoffs, but as you’ll read below there wasn’t a whole lot he could have done.

All the focus has to be on the start for Game 5 on Thursday night, and if ever there was a time to get the first goal of the game it has to be on Thursday. The Steelheads face a 3-1 series deficit and now is the time to empty the tanks to try to extend the season. It will be no small task to do so, but it should be entertaining to watch.

Heading into Game 5, the big question becomes, does Brad Ralph turn over the season to Pat Nagle, or does he stick with Robinson for the make or break game? If I’m making the decision, I go with Nagle. Don’t forget, there was about a month and a half long period of time where Nagle stood on his head and willed the Steelheads to victories on some nights. I’m also going to assume that Alaska continues their rotation so that the Steelheads will see Gerald Coleman again on Thursday.

It’s do or die time for Idaho. Do they end their season on home ice on Thursday? Or do they extend their season for at least one more game and travel back up to Alaska for Game 6 on Saturday? We’ll know in just a few hours.

Full recap of the game after the jump.

Period 1

That was about as much fun as a root canal. After the first period of play the Alaska Aces are holding a 4-0 lead over the Idaho Steelheads. I would love to be able to tell you that it really isn’t that bad and that the score isn’t indicative of the play. Although at some point, you have to decide that perhaps the Aces are just the better team tonight.

Positives, let’s go positives. In the first period the Steelheads only took one penalty so they are playing disciplined which is what they need to be doing. Also, I do like the pressure and chances that they have created in the period. Jason Bast had the best chance with just about a minute to go in the period when he found himself all alone in front of goaltender Olivier Roy, but Roy was able to get enough of the shot to put it into the netting.

Alaska’s first goal came on a whiffed shot attempt by Evan Trupp, which then found the stick of Nick Mazzolini who was able to use a Steelheads player as a screen to make it 1-0. After that Zach Davies found himself all alone at the side of Josh Robinson’s net when a puck bounced to him and he buried it in the open net for the 2-0 advantage.

Goal number three for Alaska was a Nick Mazzolini special as he won a puck at the Alaska blue line, skated past Charlie Dodero, and after having his wrap around shot blocked by Patrick Cullity, the puck went right back to him and he was able to get it past a diving Robinson into the net for his second of the night. The last goal of the period came during a defensive lapse of communication and Trupp was able to connect this time tipping it past a moving Robinson for a 4-0 lead.

I’ve got to imagine Pat Nagle will start the second despite all four goals could be argued weren’t Robinson’s fault.

I still like the Steelheads chances if they can shut Alaska down the rest of the night and get a quick one to start the second.

Shots in the period, Alaska had 21 and Idaho had 5, but a bunch of Steelheads shots were wide or blocked.

Period 2

In not totally surprising news, Pat Nagle did indeed come out to start the second period in net for the Steelheads, and in an act of sportsmanship, the Aces proceeded to lob shots from the blue line at Nagle for the first 10 minutes of the period to make sure he was sufficiently warmed-up.

Idaho had a lot of good energy to start the period and despite not having a lot of shots on goal to show for it, it was nice to see the pressure in the offensive zone. A penalty kill about halfway through the period gave the team some life.

It was the momentum line that would end up putting Idaho on the board in the period as Gaelan Patterson would find David de Kastrozza coming late as the trailer and with Rob Linsmayer pushing the Aces defense back into Roy, de Kastrozza made no mistake as he beat Roy glove side for Idaho’s first of the game to make it 4-1.

Heading into the third period, the Steelheads still need three goals, but that climb is a bit easier than a four goal deficit. The Steelheads haven’t quit all year, and I wouldn’t expect that to happen now. Alaska is going to make Idaho earn it though as their strategy will continue to be, get the puck deep and force the Steelheads to go all 200 feet.

Shots in the period, Idaho had four which gives them a game total of 10 and Alaska had 18 shots for a game total of 39.

Period 3

Well it’s over. The Alaska Aces have defeated the Idaho Steelheads by a score of 4-2 to take a 3-1 series lead with game five back in Boise on Thursday night. Idaho would get the only goal of the period as Justin Mercier would drive down the right wing before throwing a backhand shot on Roy. The rebound would pop right out in front of the net and finally someone, Brett Robinson, was able to slam the puck home to make it a 4-2 final.

The Steelheads trailed by 3 going into the period and were given a five-minute power play with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. After a good initial push, a slashing call against Idaho put both teams at four skaters aside. During this time was when Robinson was able to get his goal, but Idaho was unable to take advantage of the actual power play time given to them.

In the period Idaho would end up with 10 shots on net for a game total of 20, while Alaska would only have 6 which gave them a game total of 45.

Power play numbers on the night; both teams went 0 for 3. Olivier Roy got the win in net for Alaska and Josh Robinson got the loss for Idaho.