Boise, ID (3/8/13) - Rookie forward Chase Schaber knocked home the game-winning goal with five minutes to play in his professional debut Friday night, capping a big night for first-year players as the Idaho Steelheads upended the Gwinnett Gladiators, 5-3, in front of 4,307 fans at Boise's CenturyLink Arena.
Schaber's goal went along with two-point nights for Austin Smith and Scott Todd along with two assists from Jeremie Blain and another helper from Ken Trentowski meant rookies accounted for eight of Idaho's 13 points in the win.
The visitors from Georgia got on the board first in the opening frame when the ECHL's leading scorer, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, punched home a loose puck off a Tristan Llewellyn shot at 8:07. That score would hold into the second period until the mid-point when Idaho's Justin Taylor fed the puck from the right side of the trapezoid behind the Gwinnett net to the left edge of the high slot to Scott Todd and Todd ripped home his second goal of the season at 9:26 of the second to even the score at one goal apiece. Todd's other goal came on opening night, October 12, against the Utah Grizzlies.
The Steelheads would take the lead at 14:53 of the second when Austin Smith slammed home a loose puck off of a Jeremie Blain shot from the right circle to make it 2-1. Smith's team-leading 24th goal also extended Blain's point streak to seven straight games, but Gwinnett would answer quickly on Scott Arnold's goal at 16:12 of the second from the slot to leave the game tied, 2-2, after two periods.
The two teams combined for a wild third period. It started at 3:21 of the third when former Gladiator Rylan Galiardi redirected a Ken Trentowski shot past Louie Domingue to give Idaho a 3-2 lead. That lead would hold for almost seven minutes before Pierro-Zabotel notched his second of the night, back-handing a loose puck from the top of the crease at 10:09 to once again square the score at 3-3.
Idaho (39-16-7, 85 points) would take the lead for good at 14:51 of the third. Smith's shot from the high slot slammed hard off the end boards, coming all the way back to Todd on the left wing. Todd would snap a puck off the same end boards on the short side, caroming to the bottom of the right circle on the far side to Schaber and the 22-year-old quickly fired a shot back to the left-hand post, beating Domingue to give Idaho a 4-3 lead. Gwinnett pulled its goaltender with less than two minutes to play in favor of an extra attacker and Idaho responded with a big insurance goal as Taylor scored from the left point at 19:15 of the third period to complete the scoring.
Josh Robinson picked up his 23rd win of the season in goal for the Steelheads, stopping 28 of 31 Gladiator shots. Domingue took the loss, allowing 4 goals on 36 shots faced. Each team was 0-1 on the power play in the fast-paced game. Taylor picked up the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" for Idaho with a goal, assist, and fighting major.
Idaho's nine-game homestand concludes Friday as the Steelheads and Gladiators square off again on Idaho Statesman "Kids Eat Free" night. Tickets are available by calling the CenturyLink Arena box office at 208.331.8497 or by going online at www.idahosteelheads.com
COORS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME - Scott Todd
CENTURYLINK THREE STARS:
1) Chase Schaber (ID)
2) Scott Todd (ID)
3) Justin Taylor (ID)
Group outings at a Steelheads game are a great way to gather friends, colleagues, or co-workers for a fun night out in downtown Boise. Ticket prices are discounted and you can get a Pepsi, Double-R Ranch Hot Dog, and bag of Tim’s Cascade Chips with each ticket. Contact the Steelheads front office at 208.383.0080 or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com for more information.