Steelheads’ power play falls flat in home loss

Coach Brad Ralph says ‘guys ... are not getting the job done,’ as winning streak ends.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.com © 2104 Idaho StatesmanFebruary 13, 2014 

The mission for hockey players on any power play unit couldn’t be clearer.

“Score. If you’re on the power play, you’ve got to score goals,” Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph said Wednesday night.

But the Steelheads were unable to complete that mission on any of their five power-play chances against the Bakersfield Condors, the ECHL’s best penalty-killing team. Idaho fell 2-1 at CenturyLink Arena, snapping a four-game winning streak.

“The guys on our power play are not getting the job done,” Ralph said.

The Steelheads (24-17-2-3) had plenty of chances. Bakersfield was called for three penalties — a holding and two high-sticking minors — in the first period, all in its offensive zone. But Idaho and its fifth-ranked power play unit was unable to get anything past Bakersfield goalie Laurent Brossoit.

“We tried to figure that out between periods,” said Mitch Wahl, the Steelheads’ best power play scorer. “It’s a big chance for us to take momentum out of the first period and for us to go 0-for-3, it kind of gave them momentum.”

Bakersfield (22-20-1-3) scored just one minute, 45 seconds into the second period — on its first power-play opportunity.

Idaho tied the game later in the second period on Brett Robinson’s ninth goal of the season.

But Idaho lost Pat Nagle — the ECHL’s goalie of the week — to an injury with 1:31 left in the second. Josh Watson, who had just two appearances for the Steelheads, both on the road, entered the game.

Watson allowed the Condors’ game-winner in the third period when Spencer Bennett’s rebound snuck in off Watson’s glove.

“I wish I could have kept it out,” Watson said.

Ralph refused to disclose Nagle’s injury. On the team’s radio broadcast, it was reported there was a problem with his vision.

The Steelheads, who hosts Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday, are looking for a way to disrupt Brossoit’s vision. The ECHL’s top goaltender is 14-4 in the league this year, including 12-4 with Bakersfield.

Idaho is 1-5 against the Condors this year. The Steelheads have scored eight goals in those six games, including two shutouts.

“We need to get more traffic in front of him for sure and create more pucks to the net,” Wahl said. “Just get more bodies there.”

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