By Jordan Rodriguez
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho — From the moment the puck dropped for Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Friday at Qwest Arena, Idaho Steelheads forward Greg Rallo had an extra hop in his step.
Rallo kept his momentum rolling all night, scoring his first professional hat trick to lead Idaho to a 5-2 win over Dayton that evened the series 1-1.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Rallo said. “I always want to come out and contribute, but scoring a hat trick in a finals game is pretty amazing.”
After the Steelheads were held scoreless for more than 53 minutes in Game 1, it was clear they wanted to come out with more energy in Game 2.
Rallo stepped up early, staking Idaho to a 1-0 lead 9:49 into the opening frame.
As B.J. Crombeen muscled his way up the sideboards, Rallo snuck behind the Dayton defense. Rallo then took a beautiful cross-ice feed from Crombeen and stuffed it into an open net.
“(Crombeen) made a great play,” Rallo said. “All I had to do was put it in the open net.”
Rallo scored his second goal on a power play with 2:46 to left in the first to give Idaho a 3-0 lead. The goal was the result of Lance Galbraith‘s dirty work behind the net.
Galbraith fought off a defender and dumped the puck to Rallo, who had plenty of room to beat Dayton goalie Adam Berkhoel with a quick wrist shot.
Dayton scored two power-play goals to make it 3-2 heading into the third, but Rallo was there to save the day. Idaho got another power play early in the third period, and Rallo swatted a rebound past Berkhoel to complete the hat trick.
The crowd of 4,926 showed its appreciation, showering the ice with hats in Rallo’s honor.
“The fans were great all night,” Rallo said. “That just adds to the adrenaline and emotion of a win like this.”
Rallo, who scored 31 points in 37 regular-season games with Idaho, has given the team a scoring boost since returning from the Iowa Stars of the AHL. He has scored six goals in 10 playoff games, including the game-winning, series-clinching goal with 1:03 remaining in Game 6 of the National Conference semifinals at Las Vegas.