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SERIES PREVIEW: Rush Hour

Thursday, March 10th
SERIES PREVIEW: Rush Hour

The Steelheads will see an awful lot of the Rapid City Rush over the next two weeks, playing their next four games against the Rush starting with two contests at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center this weekend. The Rush sit fourth in the West Division, 21 points back of the Steelheads in the standings, but they’ve been a challenging opponent for the Steelheads all year. Idaho is 3-3-1 against the Rush, who have earned points in seven of their last ten games.

The Steelheads lost the last meeting between these two teams, a 2-0 shutout loss at CenturyLink Arena back on February 17th. The Steelheads haven’t lost in regulation since that date, currently riding an eight-game points streak (6-0-2) into the weekend, as well as a four-game winning streak. Both streaks match season-highs. The Steelheads are 10-1-2 since February 5th.

Both teams are coming off lengthy rest weeks, with the Steelheads off since last Saturday and the Rush off since Sunday. Rapid City is coming off a Sunday 4-2 loss to the Allen Americans, but that was after taking three of an available four points against the Fort Wayne Komets. Already this will be a much different Rush team than what Steelheads fans have seen this year, but with familiar faces mixed in.

Cody Ferriero, who was effective this season for the Rush against Idaho, no longer calls Rapid City home. Ferriero was dealt to the Utah Grizzlies on March 1st, with Ryan Walters and Josh Macdonald joining the Rush. Both forwards have netted three goals and seven points apiece in three games since coming over. Another former Grizzly has seen his numbers boosted since joining the Rush, as Ryan Misiak has netted eight points in 14 games with the Rush after collecting just 13 points in 41 games with Utah.

The Rush have been one of the deadline’s busiest teams, trading away Daniel Barczuk and Danick Gauthier yesterday and loaning Taylor Doherty to AHL Toronto. The Rush added Jonathan Lessard from Norfolk.

The Steelheads continue to rack up points with strong contributions from the MoJoe Line, with Carson McMillan, Andre Morrissette, or Joe Basaraba accounting for at least a point in each game of the current eight-game points streak. The third line of Jake Fallon, Andrew Carroll, and Damian Cross is also producing regularly, with Fallon netting two goals and seven points in the last six games and Carroll with a goal and six points in the past eight contests.

Rob Linsmayer has six goals and six points in the past six games.

The Steelheads have also demonstrated the ability to win the close game late. In seven of their last eight games, the Steelheads have been in a tied contest in the third period with four of them going to overtime.

The Steelheads are 17-11-3 on the road this season and are 8-1-1 in their last ten road games. The Rush are 13-12-3 on home ice this season and won two of three game against Idaho the last time they visited Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in late November.

STEELHEAD TO WATCH

Who’s hotter than Joe Basaraba? The Steelheads forward has a goal in three straight games, one shy of the Steelheads’ longest goal streak this season when Jefferson Dahl scored in four straight in late December. Basaraba also has six goals in his last eight games, as well as seven assists. Basaraba has netted the game-winning goal in the third period in each of the last two games, and his speed game paired with Andre Morrissette has given Idaho a spring-loaded attack through the neutral zone. Basaraba has one assist in four games against Rapid City this season.

RUSH TO WATCH

The additions of Ryan Walters and Josh Macdonald make the Rush a better offensive team, particularly with Winston Day Chief struggling to score with just two goals in his last 28 games. Also helping fill that void has been Lindsay Sparks, who has contributed much more offensively since joining the Rush than he did at the beginning of the year as a member of the Orlando Solar Bears. In Orlando, Sparks had six goals and 14 points. Since joining Rapid City at the beginning of February, Sparks has 15 points in 17 games, including two goals and a five-point game against Fort Wayne on March 4th. Sparks combined with the influx of scoring at the deadline will offer a more balanced attack this week than the Steelheads have seen from the Rush.

KEY MATCHUP

When Rapid City shutout the Steelheads in the last meeting between these teams, the Steelheads had a difficult time generating offensive chances. Idaho didn’t have more than ten shots in any period of the game, and the Rush were able to choke the game with decent goaltending from a largely untested Danny Battochio. Also contributing to the malaise was a power play that was 0-for-2 on the night. That loss kicked off a three-game stretch that was a battle for Idaho, but in the game’s since they have gotten much more timely production from their power play, particularly in the third period of close games. Rapid City boasts the second-ranked PK in the ECHL. The Steelheads will need their power play not only to score, but to create positive momentum and stoke the fire in the offensive zone. It’s not just the stats that matter on the power play, but the timeliness and ability to swing the game against a team that doesn’t score much itself.

Upcoming Home Games

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Utah Grizzlies
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, October 18th
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Utah Grizzlies
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at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
Idaho Steelheads
Wednesday, October 23rd
Toledo Walleye @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
TOL Toledo Walleye
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Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, October 25th
Toledo Walleye @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
TOL Toledo Walleye
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena

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