BOISE, Idaho – Goal-scoring. Assertive effort. Big momentum.
The Idaho Steelheads jumped out to a 3-0 lead for the second time in three games, only to watch the Tulsa Oilers climb their way back into the game and defeat the Steelheads 5-4 in overtime Saturday night at CenturyLink Arena. Idaho had a two-goal lead midway through the third period, but an uncontested scoring effort by Tulsa forward Adam Pleskach and a last-minute tally from Stephen Perfetto tied things up for Tulsa as regulation came to a close. Oilers forward Roman Ammirato put the nail in the coffin for Idaho in overtime, scoring the game-winning goal with just fifteen seconds remaining in the extra period.
The silver lining for the Steelheads is that they did earn a point in the loss (their second single-point game of the season), dropping their record to 5-7-2 (12 points). Idaho remains in fifth place in the Mountain Division, just ahead of Wichita (3-3-3, 9 points) and Allen (3-9-1, 7 points).
Goal Support: Three Forwards and a D-Man
As aforementioned, Idaho’s firepower came in an unanswered, three-goal scoring session early on. Steelheads forwards A.J. White, Spencer Nass, and Steve McParland were responsible for three tallies in twelve minutes to give Idaho a very comfortable opening-period cushion. Answers from Tulsa’s Steven Kaunisto and Ammirato in the last moments of the first and second periods, respectively, cut the Idaho lead down to one before Steelheads d-man Nolan Gluchowski scored what was arguably the goal of the night early in the third period.
The 24-year-old rookie from Wixom, Michigan, received the puck from White along the blue line before beginning his push towards the net. Ammirato stepped up to defend the driving defenseman, but a spin move by Gluchowski left the Tulsa d-man reeling out of position. An audible gasp from the crowd rose as he began carrying the puck in on his backhanded. Another Oilers defender stepped up to try and contest Gluchowski, but the rookie finished his backhand drive with a flip shot above the blocker of Tulsa netminder Devin Williams, putting Idaho back up by two goals at 2:35 of the third period.
Post-Game Interview with Nolan Gluchowski (1:02)
Mistakes Were Made
Although giving credence to the outstanding effort put forth by his squad, Idaho Head Coach Neil Graham was also not shy in mentioning how their errors ultimately cost the Steelheads the game.
“I thought our guys played a very good hockey game,” said Graham. “Start to finish, our guys battled and played with speed and supported each other. It could have been arguably one of our best games of the year. (But) all five goals were preventable; they were self-inflicted. We kind of stepped on our own throat there tonight, which is unfortunate, since we don’t exactly have a big room for error right now.”
With 12 out of the last 15 games being one-goal affairs, there is also an understandable dissatisfaction that only four of those twelve games have been wins.
Coach Graham: “We’re a frustrated group, without a doubt. So much good was erased so quickly by a couple mistakes that go right to the back of our net. Tonight, for me, they were big mistakes…they were mindless ones at important points that really changed the outcome of the game. Especially once it became 4-2, we had a chance to pick each other up and move on from those mistakes. But, to finish out with a couple mistakes in the last ten minutes…it’s a tough one for our group.”
What Happens Next?
Idaho remains at home this coming week to skate three games in four nights against the Rapid City Rush (6-5-2, 14 points) on November 14, 16, and 17. Rapid City is one spot ahead of Idaho in the Mountain Division, remaining in fourth place after losing two of three home games against Fort Wayne this past week. The Rush and Steelheads will face each other six times in a row over the next two weeks – three games here in Boise, and three games at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in South Dakota. It will be the first of seventeen games between the two clubs this season.