(BOISE, ID) – Brady Brassart and Justin Parizek led an Idaho Steelheads offensive each with a 3-point night, but the hottest goaltender in the ECHL, Tomas Sholl, stole the show again with his third shutout in his last four starts, blanking the Rapid City Rush with 22 saves in a 5-0 Steelheads win on Friday night. The Steelheads win, coupled with the Tulsa Oilers loss from earlier this evening helps Idaho clinch a playoff spot for a 12th straight season.
Unlike Wednesday night’s counterpart that took 55:18 to see the game’s first goal, Idaho struck within the first minute of the game en route to a 2-0 lead after one. Just 45 seconds into the action, Steven McParland, from behind the Rush goal line, fed the puck to Justin Parizek in the slot, who finished with a wrist shot that beat Rush net-minder Adam Vay on his glove side to give Idaho a 1-0 lead (McParland and Brady Brassart assisted). Michael Neville doubled the lead when Connor Chatham broke free of a pileup behind the Rush net, and found Neville in the slot with another shot that beat Vay to make it 2-0 with 5:34 left in the first (Chatham had the lone assist). Shots were closer in this first period, 9-8 in Steelheads favor as opposed to Wednesday’s counterpart (18-5 in Idaho’s favor). Tomas Sholl stopped all 8 shots he saw in the first period.
Will Merchant tripled the Steelheads lead 5:00 into the second period, once again taking a pass from the goal line, this time from Jefferson Dahl, in the slot area, finishing again by Vay to make it 3-0 Idaho (Dahl and Cole Ully assisted). Moments following the goal, Adam Vay was removed from the game for precautionary reasons, and Christian Frey was subbed in net for the Rush for the remainder of the contest. Sholl’s workload increased in the second, turning aside all 11 shots in the middle frame for a total of 19 saves through 40 minutes.
Cole Ully started the final period off with Idaho’s fourth goal of the game, taking a rebound off of a Brady Brassart shot from the right wing faceoff circle that beat Frey to make it a 4-0 Steelheads lead with 4:57 gone by in the third (Brassart and Parizek assisted). Brassart and Parizek then capped off their three-point nights when Parizek found Brassart from the right wing wall in the slot area, with Brassart finishing with a shot off of Frey and in to bring the game to its 5-0 final score with 1:56 left in the game (Parizek had the lone assist). Sholl hung on to stop all 3 third period shots, giving the Steelheads a 5-0 win with his third shutout in his last four starts on 22 saves.
Adam Vay suffered the loss, stopping 10 of 13 shots in 28:25 before removing himself from the game (13-17-1-2). Christian Frey played the remaining 31:35 and stopped 17 of 19 in his relief appearance.
The Rush will take on the Idaho Steelheads in their final regular season meeting, and the finale of their three-game set. Puck drop for the game three is slated for 7:10 p.m. on March 24th at CenturyLink Arena.