Steelheads goalie Robinson is all focus for Game 6

Idaho can close out the series against the Ontario Reign tonight on the road.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comApril 30, 2013 

Steelheads rookie goalie Josh Robinson went 27-8-4 in the regular season. The Michigan Tech product was voted the MVP by his Idaho teammates prior to the postseason.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com

There is plenty on the line as the Idaho Steelheads take on the Ontario Reign in Game 6 of their ECHL Western Conference semifinal series Tuesday night in California.

Emotions will be high.

Players will get caught up in the moment.

That's not in the plans for Idaho goalie Josh Robinson.

"I try not to think," he said. "That's the worst enemy for a goalie. I really just go out there and watch the puck."

Robinson watches a puck like a kitten stares at a ball of yarn, and his focus hasn't wavered much lately. He turned in three stellar performances at home last week, stopping 88-of-91 shots as the Steelheads went 2-0-1 to climb within one win of clinching the series. His save percentage was .967, and his goals-against average was under one.

"You've got to have goaltending to win any playoff game," Steelheads coach Brad Ralph said.

Getting a win at Ontario could be Idaho's biggest task of the season. If Idaho doesn't close out the Reign on Tuesday, a deciding Game 7 would be played in Ontario on Wednesday.

"It's not going to be easy," said Robinson, who is 3-2-1 in the playoffs and will get the start in Game 6. "They're going to come out flying. It's a tough arena to play in, but we've got to go out there and weather the storm."

Momentum has been a huge factor in this series. Ontario got on a roll in Game 2 and won 5-0. Idaho routed the Reign 6-0 in Game 4.

"There's obviously going to be twists and turns," said Robinson, whose goalie partner, Tyler Beskorowany, is 4-1-0 with a shutout in the postseason. "This series has changed quickly. It seems like it changes in a matter of seconds. So you just have to keep going out there, no matter what happens."

With the help of Robinson, Idaho's defense has been playing at a peak level the past few games. The defense features All-ECHL first-teamer Matt Case, and it has been bolstered by the return of Patrick Cullity and Gord Baldwin from the AHL.

"I think having those guys back has helped us," said Jace Coyle, a 22-year-old defenseman who has six assists in 11 playoff games.

Ralph said having players like Cullity and Baldwin back should be a benefit as Idaho plays on the road.

"(Ontario fans) are loud and they're banging on the glass behind us," Ralph said. "That's when you lean on your experienced players and your leaders. They're that calming presence on the bench and on the ice."

Robinson said he can sometimes feed off the energy of an opposing crowd.

"It's way better to play in front of a sold-out arena on the road than to play in front of 10 people," he said.

Not that he'll think much about that, or anything else, when he takes the ice Tuesday. After all, he plays best with a clear head.

"If I think, I'm going to psych myself out and they're going to score," Robinson said.

WATCH PARTY

The SportsZone on the third floor of CenturyLink Arena will host a free watch party for Tuesday's Game 6 (and Game 7, if necessary). Doors open at 7 p.m. with game times at 8 p.m. Children are welcome, and there will be a limited food and beverage menu.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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