After splitting a pair in Allen two weeks ago to start a five-game road trip, the Steelheads are back in Boise riding a four-game win streak to host the Americans at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads are playing their best hockey of the season coming off a three-game sweep of the Rapid City Rush, while the Americans have points in five of their last six coming off a defeat in Wichita.
The Steelheads showed some fight in the first two meetings between these teams at Allen Event Center. The Americans held on for a 2-1 win on November 10th, riding goals form Vincent Arseneau and Peter MacArthur while limiting the Steelheads to 29 shots against goaltender Stephon Williams.
The following night saw the Steelheads battle back late, turning a 4-2 third period deficit into a 5-4 shootout win made possible by power play goals from Steve McParland and Justin Parizek. The victory was Idaho’s first in five games beyond regulation. The Steelheads have registered power play goals in four straight contests and in eight of the past ten.
Allen bounced back with an overtime win over Tulsa the following day before splitting a pair with the Thunder the following week.
The Steelheads’ roster will have a bit of a different shape when the teams meet again this week, with goaltender Philippe Desrosiers (Texas) and defenseman Joe Faust (Utica) both called to the AHL this week. Desrosiers made both starts during the set in Allen.
The Americans also made a significant move since these teams last met, trading forward Tanner Eberle to the Jacksonville IceMen.
Idaho again enjoyed a comeback victory at the tail end of their road trip, once again overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period to earn a 3-2 win over the Rush. The effort included a shorthanded goal from AJ White that held up as the winner, the fourth shorthanded goal for the Steelheads this season to rank tied for third in the league.
Brady Brassart saw his points streak end at a career-high nine games, but linemate Justin Parizek remained hot with a power play goal for his fourth goal and ninth point during a six-game points streak. With two assists, Connor Chatham has five points in his last six games.
Steve McParland had two goals during the road trip, giving him six in the past nine games.
The Americans are still missing Riley Gill and Zach Pochiro, both on injured reserve. Gill has not played since October 21st, while Pochiro has been on the shelf since November 5th and is still the team’s leading goal-scorer. Casey Pierro-Zabotel leads Allen in scoring and has assists in four straight contests, but he has not scored a goal in his last seven games and has just one in the last 12.
Peter MacArthur and Mathieu Aubin did damage against the Steelheads in Allen and they have not slowed down. MacArthur has three goals and five points in his last five contests. Aubin grabbed another goal in Wichita after scoring twice on the power play against Idaho.
Stephon Williams started all three games for Allen since they last played Idaho, winning the first two but surrendering five goals in Wichita last Saturday before being pulled.
The Steelheads begin the series a point ahead of the Americans for third place in the division, with one game in hand. The Steelheads will play 11 of their next 13 games at CenturyLink Arena.
STEELHEAD TO WATCH
With Philippe Desrosiers recalled, it’s safe to assume fans will see more of Ryan Faragher this week. The goaltender joined the Steelheads just prior to their road trip and has yet to play his first game in front of the home crowd. He was stellar in his first Steelheads action in Rapid City, winning both contests against the Rush and carrying a shutout bid into the final two minutes of the game on Friday. Faragher stopped 51 of 55 shots across the two games. He is 0-1-1 in his career against the Americans, surrendering just three goals.
AMERICAN TO WATCH
Vincent Arseneau scored twice against the Steelheads and didn’t stop there, entering this week’s series with goals in four straight and in five of the past six. Arseneau is a productive scorer who also plays a heavy game, logging 26 penalty minutes for Allen over the past five games. With some of the finesse and flash from the past missing from the Americans lineup, Arseneau’s prototypical power forward game has yielded results for an Americans team that is 11th in the league in scoring.KEY MATCHUP
The Steelheads’ have flexed their comeback ability in recent weeks, including against the Americans, and it’s largely been due to their development as a third period team. The Steelheads have a plus-11 goal differential in the third period, tied with Toledo and Florida for the best in the ECHL, while their first period goal differential is minus-2 and their second period differential is even. Their 21 third period goals are tied for third in the ECHL, with seven of those goals coming in the past four games. The Americans haven’t struggled to score lately either, with 15 goals over the last four contests. Still the Americans’ third period goal differential is plus-3, and their 15 third period goals sit in the middle of the pack. The Steelheads are 6-0-0 this season when leading after two periods, and they have earned points in three of six games in which they trailed entering the final frame. Idaho will look to continue the trend of getting stronger throughout the course of the game.