(RAPID CITY, SD) – Charlie Dodero broke a 55:18 scoreless deadlock for the Idaho Steelheads, but Alec Baer, making his professional debut, tied the game on a power play goal within the final minutes to eventually force a shootout, won by Dodero in the fifth round to give the Idaho Steelheads a 2-1 win on Wednesday night. The game marked the first of three to be played by the Mountain Division rivals in their final head-to-head meetings of the season.
Both teams skated to scoreless deadlocks after two periods of play, with Rush net-minder Adam Vay stopping 34 shots, compared to back-to-back two-time defending ECHL Goaltender of the Week Tomas Sholl, who stopped 10 in the first 40 minutes. Eventually, the deadlock was broken 55:18 into the game, when, in the midst of four-on-four hockey, Charlie Dodero put the Steelheads on top. With 4:42 left in the game, Connor Chatham forced a bad turnover on the Rush defense behind the net, and forced the puck to the slot. A.J. White gave way to Dodero, who fired a shot off of Vay’s paraphernalia and in, giving the Steelhead a 1-0 lead (White and Chatham assisted). Ironically enough, Dodero, still in four-on-four hockey, was called for a holding the stick minor, putting the Rush to their most important power play in the final minutes of the game. With 2:10 remaining, Jack Walker found Gustav Bouramman on the backdoor, but Bouramman’s shot was stopped by Sholl. Alec Baer, making his pro debut for the Rush following the conclusion of his WHL career, found the rebound and blasted it by Sholl for his first goal as a professional to tie the game at 1-1 (Walker and Bouramman assisted). Both teams remained deadlocked and headed to overtime, which did not yield a winner either. Both teams, for the first time this season, would faceoff in a shootout.
Alec Baer’s number was called in the bottom of the first round after Idaho’s Steve McParland rang the post. Baer beat Sholl to give the Rush a 1-0 lead after round one, followed by Vay’s blocker denial of Idaho’s Shane Hanna, and Sholl’s kick save of Andrew Radjenovic’s shot. Justin Parizek tied the shootout up in the top of the third round, and was followed by Sholl’s stop of Peter Sivak’s attempt. Cole Ully’s attempt for Idaho was gloved away by Vay, but then Gustav Bouramman mishandled the puck in the bottom of the fourth round to set up the fateful fifth round. Charlie Dodero, responsible for the first goal in regulation to break the deadlock, finished with his shot over Vay’s shoulder to put the game on the stick of Daniel Leavens. Leavens clanked the crossbar on his attempt, and Idaho, thanks to two inches of hollow iron, hung on for the second point and a 2-1 win.
Adam Vay stopped a remarkable 49 of 50 shots on goal, suffering his second shootout loss of the season (13-16-1-1).
The Rush will rematch the Idaho Steelheads in round two of their three-game set. Puck drop for the game two is slated for 7:10 p.m. MST Friday, March 23rd, at CenturyLink Arena.