BOISE, ID.- The Ontario Reign (1-1-0-0), proud affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, evened the first round series against the Idaho Steelheads (1-1-0-0) with a sudden death, overtime win in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday night before a crowd of 2,916.
The game started out slow with the only tally coming at the 10:50 mark. A shot by Ian Lowe rebounded off J.F. Berube’s pads to Chad Nehring who quickly shot it into the Reign net. No penalties were called until the final moments of the frame, when hit on Idaho’s Steven Tarasuk by the Reign’s Chris Huxley started a scuffle. Each player received a two-minute infraction for slashing, and roughing, respectively.
Everett Sheen evened the score at 1:54 off an across-ice pass from Bill Bagron who picked up the puck from an Idaho turnover. The continuous infraction minutes began with five apiece to Adrian Van de Mosselaer and Chris Hepp for fighting. Benn Olson was also sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Idaho the power play. For the second time in this series, the Steelheads took advantage of their extra skater scoring their second of the night.
Three minutes after the Idaho goal, Jerry Kuhn was ejected from the game after receiving a five-minute chipping major on C.J. Stretch. Brian Hince came in as Idaho’s backup goaltender. After the exchange, the period remained scoreless with Ontario heading into the third on the penalty kill.
The Reign’s Alan Mazur scored the second equalizer of the game. The defenseman skated the puck up along the left boards and fired a hard shot from the top of the circle past Hince. To take back the lead, Idaho scored just 72 seconds later. Berube faced a couple shots from the Steelheads and was out of position when the puck was punched in by Michael Neal. With the Reign battling to avoid their second loss in the series, J.D. Watt found the loose puck amid a mass of bodies and got it past the goal line as the net came off its moorings. Sheen and Stretch both earned their second points in the post-season with the assists.
With a high pressure overtime frame, Ontario outshot the Steelheads during the back-and-forth play. Kyle Kraemer brought the puck into the Idaho zone taking a shot on net. Hince stopped his attempt, but let a dangerous rebound get to the blade of former Steelhead, Geoff Irwin. Irwin got the puck past Hince for the game-winning goal at 9:02. The tally marks his first professional, playoff goal.
Berube earned his first professional playoff win saving 26 of 29 shots, and Hince took the first postseason loss for Idaho saving 21 of 24 shots, while Kuhn saved 15 of 16, for a total of 36 of 40 shots stopped.
Three Stars: 1) ONT - G. Irwin 2) IDH - M. Neal 3) ONT - J. Watt