Steelheads open playoffs with win over Eagles

Idaho wins 2-1 behind Josh Robinson's goaltending

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comApril 19, 2014 

In the days leading up to Friday night's opener against Colorado, Idaho's Josh Robinson explained how it feels when a goaltender is confident in net.

"When you're on your game … you just think you're going to stop it no matter what. Throw something out, it's going to hit me," Robinson said. "(The puck) slows down. When you're on your game, it can look huge and slow as if it's coming at you in slow motion."

Friday night, just hours after finding out he'd start Game 1, Robinson showed what a goalie at the top of his game looks like.

He stopped 42-of-43 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Eagles at CenturyLink Arena. Idaho leads the ECHL Kelly Cup Western Conference quarterfinal series 1-0. Game 2 is Saturday night.

"He certainly bailed us out," Steelheads coach Brad Ralph said. "We gave up too many Grade A scoring chances."

No chance was bigger for Colorado than Kyle Ostrow's point-blank look midway through the second period. Robinson made a spectacular sprawling save.

"I just literally kind of threw myself backward and threw everything in front of it I could. And it hit me in the arm," Robinson said.

It was SportsCenter material.

But Robinson made plenty of excellent saves all night. No matter how good the opportunity, there was Robinson, who even made a third-period save without his stick.

"There were so many shots that I thought went in, but he ended up making the save," Idaho forward David de Kastrozza said.

De Kastrozza gave Idaho a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 4 minutes, 2 seconds into the first period. De Kastrozza, who was on the power play because Tommy Grant left with an apparent hand injury, took a nice pass from William Rapuzzi and beat Colorado goalie Dustin Butler.

"De Kastrozza has been very versatile all year long. He's a utility guy for us. He's played that position (right point on the power play) for us. It's great to see him get rewarded," Ralph said.

Grant did not return and forward Brett Robinson missed time with an injury, too, forcing Ralph to shuffle his line combinations throughout the game.

With Robinson playing incredible in net, it seemed as if that one goal would be enough. But Colorado finally got a shot past Robinson early in the third period when Kyle Kraemer's shot trickled into the net to force a 1-1 tie.

The goal awoke the Steelheads' offense, which generated its best chances with the game tied. De Kastrozza, off a terrific pass from rookie defenseman Scott Czarnowczan, scored the game-winner with 2:45 remaining, beating Butler high on the blocker side.

Robinson made it hold up in the final minutes, stopping several more Colorado chances.

"It's playoffs, so you have to find a way to do whatever you can to stop the puck and come up with big performances,'' he said.

Brian Murphy: 377-644; Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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