Steelheads goalie Pat Nagle is a quiet, unassuming guy.
So when he came to his first Idaho training camp prior to this season, he wasnt heard from much with returning team MVP Josh Robinson clearly in the role of the teams top netminder.
Its difficult to come into a team where you have a returning goalie, coach Brad Ralph said. Hes kind of uncertain where he fits in the mix.
But that all changed Dec. 27, when Robinson was called up to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Nagle became the Steelheads only option in the net, and Friday night he got his ninth start in a row. The third-year pro won three of his previous four starts. He stopped 39-of-40 shots in Wednesdays 2-1 win over Utah in one of his better performances of the season.
He was our best player, no doubt about it, Ralph said after that contest. He made hard saves look easy.
Nagle, 26, said the string of starts has been good for his confidence.
Its been great to get in a rhythm and get familiar with the guys, night in and night out, said Nagle, who has a .919 save percentage and a 2.83 goals-against average. You know youre going, so you just lock in and go out and play. Ive been seeing a lot of minutes, and thats all you can ask for.
Those minutes might have caught up to him a little bit Friday, as he allowed three goals in a 3-0 loss to Utah.
And thats why Ralph decided this week he needed to bring in someone to back up Nagle during Robinsons extended absence.
Were going to be playing four games in six nights, and Pat has played a lot, Ralph said.
Rookie Josh Watson was acquired in a trade with the Reading Royals on Thursday. Watson made one start for Reading, picking up a win in his pro debut Dec. 31.
I hadnt played in a game in a while, and I was definitely a little nervous, the 23-year-old Watson said. I ended up letting in the first goal on the first shot. It wasnt the way I wanted to start my pro career.
Thankfully, things improved for Watson after that first shot. He stopped the next 22 he faced.
Hell likely get a chance at his second pro victory as Idaho plays at Utah on Saturday and Monday.
Like Nagle at the beginning of the season, Watson is looking for a chance to prove himself.
Im just happy to have this opportunity, Watson said.
STEELIES SHUT OUT
Utah goalie Aaron Dell refused to give the seasons first sellout crowd at CenturyLink Arena anything to cheer about, as he stopped all 27 shots Idaho put on goal.
I thought their goalie had a very solid game, Ralph said. He made big saves to make sure we couldnt get back in the game.
It was the fourth road win for Utah (14-16-6).
Idaho dropped to 19-13-4 overall and 11-7-3 at home.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424