ONTARIO, Calif.-- The Idaho Steelheads left no doubt that they wanted to continue their post season run, defeating the Ontario Reign in a 5-0 rout in the deciding Game 5 of their series on Monday night.
The Steelheads came out on a mission in the first period, led by goalie Jerry Kuhn, who tallied 16 saves in the opening frame. That defense led to offense, as forward Jacob Cepis put the Steelheads on the board first with a top shelf wrist shot that beat goal tender Chris Carrozzi.
The Steelheads carried that momentum into the second period when Joe Pereira lit the lamp on a power play to go up 2-0. Just moments later, it looked as if the Reign might have gotten on the board when the horn sounded on a goal that initially appeared to be saved by Kuhn. The referees quickly waved off the goal, though, signaling that the play had been whistled dead. Idaho seemed to take that as a wake up call, and got some more breathing room when Cepis scored his second goal of the night on an acrobatic break away goal. The quick-footed forward chased down the loose puck in the neutral zone, avoided a check along the boards, and then regained control of the puck to fire a shot past Carrozzi to take a three goal lead.
But the Steelheads were not nearly done. Michael Neal scored a tip in goal on a Derek LeBlanc assist to end the second period up 4-0. Then Cody Purves put the nail in the coffin when he backhanded a shot past Jean Francois Berube, who came in to replace Carrozzi, to take a devastating five goal lead.
Kuhn finished the night perfect, saving 46 shots on goal.
With the win, the Steelheads advance to the second round of the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs where they will face the Las Vegas Wranglers. The series will begin on Monday, in Las Vegas for two games. The series will then shift to Boise for three games starting on Thursday, April 20. If necessary, Games 6 and 7 will be played in Las Vegas.