Condors swoop in late, beat Steelheads

Idaho suffers first loss of the season after leading through two periods.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJanuary 27, 2014 

  • STEELHEADS AT THE HALFWAY MARK

    Sunday’s game was the first game of the second half of the regular season. Here’s a look at the first half of the season (38 games).

    TEAM LEADERS

    Points: Mitch Wahl 39

    Goals: Anthony Nigro 16

    Penalty minutes: Wahl 86

    Plus/minus: Brett Robinson plus-12

    Wins: Pat Nagle 11

    Save percentage: Josh Robinson .921

    Goals-against average: Robinson 2.28 percent

    TEAM STATISTICS

    Goals scored: 115 (10th in ECHL)

    Goals allowed: 110 (T-10th)

    Power play: 19 percent (3rd)

    Penalty kill: 85.1 percent (12th)

Idaho coach Brad Ralph watched his team control Sunday’s game against the Bakersfield Condors for much of the night.

But, in the end, the Steelheads learned a painful lesson.

“You’re not going to win many hockey games scoring one goal,” Ralph said.

Idaho led the game with less than 3 minutes remaining, but Bakersfield shocked the Steelheads with three goals in a span of less than 2 minutes. The end result was a 3-1 Condors win at CenturyLink Arena.

“It’s funny how it changes pretty fast,” said forward Austin Fyten, who scored Idaho’s goal midway through the second period. “But I didn’t think we came out ready in the third. We gave up too many chances, and they got a lot of momentum.”

Up until the final 3 minutes, it looked like the story of the game was going to be Idaho goalie Pat Nagle’s performance.

Nagle (11-10-2) was called up to the Texas Stars of the AHL last week, and the team prepared as if rookie Josh Watson would get his third professional start. But Nagle was reassigned to Idaho on Sunday.

“I got to the rink at about 2:30,” said Nagle, who had won three of his previous four starts. “It’s definitely not ideal, but you try to battle through.”

And that’s exactly what Nagle did. In fact, he was oh-so-close to his first shutout victory at CenturyLink Arena.

Then Bakersfield broke through with two goals against Nagle and an empty-netter.

“Nags played well,” Ralph said. “There wasn’t much he could do on the first goal. The second goal, they had traffic … and a shot from the point got a lucky bounce. Those happen, and that’s why you’ve got to score more than one goal to win a hockey game.”

“It just happened to float perfectly over me,” Nagle said of the game-winner. “It was kind of a fluky bounce.”

No one in the arena was more happy to see that bounce than Condors forward Michael Neal, who played 188 games with Idaho over the course of three seasons.

“The fans kind of give it to me a little bit, but I just kind of smile and laugh,” said Neal, who notched an assist on the game-winning goal. “But they gave it to me when I played here, too. So it’s nothing new.”

The Steelheads (20-15-4) dropped to 0-3-1 in Sunday games this season and lost for the first time when leading through two periods (they had been 11-0).

“I thought we outplayed them and we were the better team for the first two periods, but we ran out of steam,” Ralph said. “They saw the light at the end of the tunnel in the third period. They were pushing and we couldn’t answer the bell.”

In the end, the star of the game turned out to be Condors rookie goalie Lauren Brossoit. He came into the game with the top save percentage (.940) and goals-against average (1.53) in the ECHL, and managed to improve on those already stellar statistics.

“We had a lot of chances,” Fyten said. “We just couldn’t get it by him.”

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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