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Preview: Stop the Rush

Tuesday, December 13th
Preview: Stop the Rush

The Idaho Steelheads and Rapid City Rush will both be looking to find the win column again when they meet for a three-game series beginning Wednesday night at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads are winless in three straight games, their longest drought of the season, while the Rush have gone five games without a victory.

The teams have already met once this season, a 5-3 Steelheads loss at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on November 2nd. The Steelheads used that game as a launching pad, going 8-1-1 over the following ten games.  At the time, it was just the second win of the season for the Rush. While their play has improved, they still sit in last place in the Mountain Division, one point back of the Utah Grizzlies.

While the Steelheads lost that game, it was a solid night for their captain and current leading scorer. Jefferson Dahl scored twice that night, his second and third goals of the season. Dahl, having returned to the lineup last Friday after a brief injury, is rolling again for Idaho with two goals and four points in his last two games. Anthony Luciani is also coming off a three-point night for Idaho, now tied for the team-lead in goals and second on the team with 20 points.

The last time the Steelheads and Rush met, Idaho got a good look at the most dangerous elements of the Rush lineup. The line of Lindsay Sparks, Josh MacDonald, and Ryan Walters were a handful for Idaho that night. The trio combined for two goals and five assists, not to mention seven shots on goal. Walters and Sparks have slowed down recently with just two goals and two assists between them in the last five games. MacDonald has a goal and an assist in each of his last two outings.

Hunter Fejes has points in four of his last five games for Rapid City, while Brett Perlini has three goals in his last six games.

The Steelheads have been a strong team on home ice, where they are 9-3-1.

STEELHEAD TO WATCH

Corbin Baldwin’s penalty-killing prowess was on full display over the weekend in Colorado, the Steelheads’ shutdown defender helping to stifle a 4-on-3 in overtime to force the shootout on Saturday night. Baldwin’s shot-blocking and defensive zone work are always a strength, though his plus/minus from this past weekend won’t fairly reflect it. The Steelheads were hurt by that Walters-Sparks-MacDonald line earlier this season, and they can expect to see Baldwin and partner Charlie Dodero a lot with Idaho possessing the last change on home ice.

RUSH TO WATCH

Ryan Walters was Rapid City’s best player in the last meeting, with a goal and two assists. Walters has been a productive scorer in his career against Idaho, recording five goals and 14 points with the Rush, Grizzlies, and Aces. Walters hasn’t been finding the net with as much regularity this season, scoring just two goals in the last 14 games, but he has the ability to take over a game if Idaho is out of position in the defensive zone.

KEY MATCHUP

The defensive zone will be vital for Idaho to regain traction against the Rush. The Steelheads were hurt by Rapid City in the prior meeting when they failed to take advantage of uncontested opportunities to clear the zone, and when they failed to challenge the Rush on the perimeter of the rink. When the Steelheads gave Sparks and Walters time to make plays from the corners, they often found their target. The Steelheads need to be aggressive and take command in the defensive zone and be wary of the high slot, the soft area of the ice where the Rush twice scored from earlier this season. The Steelheads learned how small mistakes can cost a team, losing all three in Colorado by one goal. The Rush know the same lesson, having played seven consecutive one-goal games.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Utah Grizzlies
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, October 18th
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Utah Grizzlies
UTA Utah Grizzlies
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
at
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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