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STEELHEADS POWER RANKINGS: STEELHEADS VS. THE WEST DIVISION

Tuesday, February 2nd
STEELHEADS POWER RANKINGS: STEELHEADS VS. THE WEST DIVISION

This is the weekly edition of Idaho Steelheads Power Rankings, where we at idahosteelheads.com will see where the Steelheads and their players rank among the best of the best in the ECHL.

The Idaho Steelheads season turned around with a terrific month of December, an effort they followed up with an even better month of January. But just how good have the Steelheads been compared to the rest of the West Division? Steelheads Think-Tank leader Will Hoenike lends a hand this week with research as we count down the West Division pecking order since December 1st!

*All Statistics current as of 2/2*

5) Rapid City Rush; 8-15-1-0 (17 points)

The Rush were making a pretty solid charge in the West Division through the season’s first 90 days, vying for the West Division lead when they beat Idaho twice in three games over the Thanksgiving weekend in the Black Hills. That momentum came to a stop in December. After winning three of their first four December games, the Rush went 1-5-1 in their next seven. After winning three straight to start the New Year, the Rush lost nine of their last ten and seven in a row. The road for the Rush doesn’t get any easier as they visit Quad City on Wednesday. Rapid City has undergone some changes to turn the tides, moving scorers Zach Cohen and Kale Kerbashian while adding former-Steelhead Garett Bembridge.

4) Alaska Aces; 10-10-2-1 (23 points)

The Aces arrive in Boise still last in the West Division but slowly trying to climb their way back up with points in six of their last ten. In the previous two months, the Aces haven’t moved the needle too much in games against divisional opponents by going 6-10-1. The Aces did give themselves a boost, however, with a pretty decent run through the South Division, going 4-0-2 against Atlanta, Greenville, and South Carolina. The Aces promptly returned home to Anchorage and dropped two of three to the Steelheads and then two straight to the Colorado Eagles. It’s hard to make headway in your own division if you are unable to beat the teams you’re chasing, making this three-game set in Boise a critical series for the Aces.

3) Utah Grizzlies; 15-11-0-0 (30 points)

The Grizzlies record on either end of January 1st would look a lot better if they didn’t play so many games against that team from CenturyLink Arena. The Grizzlies lost four of their five meetings with the Steelheads, but when they finally did defeat Idaho on January 9th it seemed to give them a boost. That was the first of five straight wins that reestablished Utah’s first place status in the West Division. The pendulum has swung back and forth for Utah, their back-to-back wins over Rapid City restoring a three point lead over Idaho atop the division. The Grizzlies will swing through Tulsa and Allen before another back-to-back series with the Steelheads, stoking the fires even more in what is shaping up to be a fun divisional race.

2) Colorado Eagles; 15-8-0-0 (30 points)

Let’s not be fooled into thinking that the race atop the West is a two-team race. If there was any team in the division that can appreciate the Steelheads rise from the November ashes, it’s the Colorado Eagles. Colorado started the season an abysmal 1-6-1, but that is now a distant memory as they sit eight points behind Utah with games in hand on both the Steelheads and Grizzlies. The Eagles have won six in a row and five straight against West Division opponents. They have a chance to build on their winning streak with six of their next eight games against teams that are currently outside the playoff picture. The Steelheads and Eagles meet four more times this season, twice in each barn, after splitting the season’s first six meetings.

1) Idaho Steelheads; 17-8-0-1 (35 points)

What a difference two months can make! The Steelheads puled themselves back into the playoff picture with an about-face in the month of December, responding to a 3-7-3 November with an 8-4-1 record in the final month of 2015. The Steelheads got even better to start 2016, going 9-4-0 in January. The Steelheads turnaround syncs up with several big additions. Zach Yuen joined the Steelheads to start December, and now leads ECHL defensemen with 17 power play points. Kyle Jean made his Steelheads debut on December 2nd and has gone on to record 26 points and 18 assists, tied for 5th and 6th in the ECHL respectively during that time. Jack Campbell has been arguable the league’s best goaltender with nine wins, three shutouts, and a .952 save percentage. Of course the players already here at the outset of the season stepped up their games as well.Emil Molin leads the ECHL with 14 goals since December 1st, and Shawn Boutin and Corbin Baldwin have both had an even rating or better in each of the last 18 contests. Rob Linsmayer’s 40 points this season are tied for ninth-best in the league. The Steelheads can keep the ball rolling with continued solid play on home ice, with 14 of their next 20 games at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads have won seven of their last ten games at home.

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