Steelheads' Nagle getting his minutes in goal

Stepping in for Josh Robinson, the goalie is stepping up for Idaho.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJanuary 18, 2014 

Idaho goalie Pat Nagle deflects a shot during Wednesday’s win over Utah. The Grizzlies answered with a 3-0 win Friday night, and Nagle’s record dropped to 10-9-2 after he allowed three goals on the 38 shots he faced. Nagle was a member of the 2012 ECHL champion Florida Everblades as a rookie.

KYLE GREEN — kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Steelheads goalie Pat Nagle is a quiet, unassuming guy.

So when he came to his first Idaho training camp prior to this season, he wasn’t heard from much with returning team MVP Josh Robinson clearly in the role of the team’s top netminder.

“It’s difficult to come into a team where you have a returning goalie,” coach Brad Ralph said. “He’s 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 Wednesday’s 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.

“It’s 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 you’re going, so you just lock in and go out and play. … I’ve been seeing a lot of minutes, and that’s 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 that’s why Ralph decided this week he needed to bring in someone to back up Nagle during Robinson’s extended absence.

“We’re 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 hadn’t 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 wasn’t 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.

He’ll 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.

“I’m just happy to have this opportunity,” Watson said.

STEELIES SHUT OUT

Utah goalie Aaron Dell refused to give the season’s 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 couldn’t 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

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