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SERIES PREVIEW: Aces land in Boise

Wednesday, February 3rd
SERIES PREVIEW: Aces land in Boise

The Steelheads will lay seven of their 11 February games on home ice, starting with a three-game series with the Alaska Aces on Wednesday night. The Steelheads are coming off their first three-game series sweep of the season and have won four straight games and six of their past seven contests. That seven game stretch of success began in Anchorage two weekends ago with two wins over the Aces. This week the Aces will make their first visit to Boise this season.

When the Steelheads and Aces met a week and a half ago, the Aces had earned points in seven consecutive games. Now the Aces limp into Boise with just one win in their last five, their Sunday win over Idaho that is sandwiched between a pair of losses to the Steelheads and Eagles.

The Steelheads hope to continue their march on the top of the Division, now just three points back of the Utah Grizzlies. A win Wednesday would give the Steelheads their longest winning streak of the season at five games.

When the Steelheads faced Alaska in Anchorage, the Aces had the fourth-ranked power play. After being shut down by the Steelheads, the Gladiators’ power play overtook the fourth ranking. After three games of stifling the Atlanta man-advantage, the Steelheads awarded the number-four ranking to the Aces again. The point of that statement is that the Steelheads have shutout the fourth-ranked power play in the ECHL for a week and a half, and will have an opportunity to continue that tomorrow night. Idaho’s PK was over 95 percent in January.

We can also anticipate some bad blood between these teams, after last Sunday’s confrontation in front of the Idaho bench. Garret Hunt, who was an actor on the Alaska side, won’t be involved in any melee this week after being issued a three-game suspension earlier this week.

STEELHEAD TO WATCH

Kyle Jean is warming up again. With two goals on Sunday afternoon (Andre Morrissette’s third period goal was changed to Jean), Jean has nine points (3-6-9) in his last nine games. Much has been made of the Linsmayer-Dahl-Molin line, but the union of Jean and Morrissette has offered Idaho a speed component that few teams can match defensively. Wednesday will be the first game of the season between these two teams on a standard-sized ice surface, but that doesn’t mean the Steelheads’ speed will be any less a factor. If anything, expect the Steelheads’ transition game to be even quicker, forcing the Alaska defense to make quick decisions in tight spaces. That will benefit Jean.

ACE TO WATCH

Justin Breton’s 15 goals lead the Aces this season, and he was one of their more dangerous forwards in the last series between these teams with a goal in the series finale. Breton has three goals and four points against Idaho this season. His quick-burst speed can make him a challenge in the offensive zone, particularly with the puck-moving ability of William Wrenn on the blue-line. That’s something the Steelheads saw firsthand in Alaska, with Breton darting to the back post for a tap-in goal after a Wrenn pass zipped across the Idaho zone. How does Breton’s speed factor in with less ice on the perimeter to drift from? We’ll find out.

KEY MATCHUP

The Idaho forecheck stifled the Aces all weekend in Anchorage, able to force the Aces defense into turnovers right up the middle of the ice that led to goals on four different occasions. That forecheck will likely look a bit different on the smaller ice surface, with more of the customary crash-and-bang attack replacing the high-zone lure that the Aces have seen so far this season. That doesn’t make things any easier on the Alaska defense at all, who will have less time to work with below the circles in their own zone. More often than not, a team that turns the puck over with lots of time will do so more often under constant duress. If Alaska is going to beat the Steelheads, they’ll have to do it with the first pass out of their own zone. That’s a prospect the Steelheads will be just fine with.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Wednesday, March 20th
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, March 22nd
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Saturday, March 23rd
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena

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