BOISE, Idaho – Chase Schaber finished Austin Smith’s centering pass on a two-on-one rush just 34 seconds into overtime Wednesday night, lifting the visiting Idaho Steelheads past the Alaska Aces, 4-3, in Anchorage.Idaho (40-17-7, 87 points) picked up the win despite generating just 16 shots on net, including a span of 18:50 between the first and second periods without a single shot attempt.The Steelheads scored twice early to quiet the Sullivan Arena crowd. First, at 3:07, Ian Watters snuck a quick shot from the bottom of the left circle between Alaska goaltender Gerald Coleman and the near post to make it 1-0. Then, at 6:40, John Ryder’s break-out pass through the neutral zone sprung Ben Ondrus on a breakaway. Ondrus beat Coleman cleanly to the glove sit for his sixth goal of the season to put Idaho up, 2-0.
The Aces would answer barely two minutes later on the power play, when Evan Trupp redirected Steve Ward’s point shot past Josh Robinson at 9:03 to make it a 2-1 game. The Steelheads would hold that lead into the second period, due in large part to a brilliant leg-pad save by Robinson on Alaska’s Alex Hudson, before Bobby Hughes tied the game at 10:57 of the 2nd on a back-hand shot from close range. The Aces nearly took the lead at the final horn of the second, but BJ Crum’s rebound shot clanged off the post behind Robinson as the second period ended.
Idaho took the lead early in the third period when Watters slammed a puck out of the sky past Coleman just 34 seconds into the final frame. The puck was deflected high in the air and came down near the top of the crease where Watters just whacked it quickly into the net for his second goal of the night and ninth of the season. Two minutes later, Idaho went on the power play but turned the puck over to Nick Mazzolini who, in turn, scored short-handed at 3:37 of the third to even the score at 3-3. The Steelheads would have to kill off a late Alaska power play to force overtime.
In overtime, Robinson saved an early Aces shot. Seconds later, Smith pounced on a loose puck in front of his own bench and streaked in the right-hand wing. Schaber joined him on the rush and Smith fed a perfect pass across to Schaber, whose quick one-timer just beat a diving Coleman for the game-ending tally just 34 seconds into the overtime session. Schaber has two professional goals since turning pro last week – both game-winners.
Robinson picked up his 24th win of the season by stopping 30 of 33 Alaska shots. Coleman took the loss, stopping just 12 of 16 Idaho shots on net. Idaho was 1-4 on the power play and Alaska was 1-6.
The same two teams play again Friday and Saturday at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.