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PREVIEW: Game #32 – Steelheads @ Rush

Monday, December 31st
PREVIEW: Game #32 – Steelheads @ Rush

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (18-10-3) VS. RAPID CITY RUSH (14-15-5)

MONDAY, DEC. 31, 2018 | 7:05 PMRUSHMORE PLAZA CIVIC CENTER | RAPID CITY, SDRADIO: 1350AM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads finish the 2018 calendar year and their three-game weekend against the Rapid City Rush from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Head-To-Head: With Saturday’s win, the Steelheads have now won three-straight games against the Rush, all coming at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center with a 4-1-0 record on the road. The Steelheads have points in seven of eight games head-to-head, owning a 6-1-1 record heading into the midway game of the 17-game series while also outscoring the Rush 21-2 during their last three games and 25-6 in five meetings in South Dakota. The Steelheads are now 32-11-3 overall against the Rush in their franchise series with wins in 17 of 21 games.

Last Game: The Steelheads took down the Rush in a 6-1 win on Saturday night from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Steelheads forward Elgin Pearce (PP, 12:11 1st; 14:10 1st) scored the opening two goals to vault the Steelheads ahead 2-0 before Steelheads forward A.J. White (14:53 1st) quickly tripled the lead, 3-0. Steelheads forward Alex Dahl (13:23 2nd) spread the lead again before Rush defenseman Riley Weselowski (15:37 2nd) cut into the lead, 4-1. Steelheads forward Brad McClure (PP, 5:56 3rd) and defenseman Nolan Gluchowski (PP, 15:56 3rd) ensured the victory at a 6-1 scoreline. Tomas Sholl (11-4-0) halted 28 of 29 shots in the win. Michael Bitzer (3-6-1) saved five of eight shots in the loss, and Adam Carlson stopped 17 of 20 shots in relief.

Fight Night: The Steelheads and Rush hosted a historic penalty-ridden game on Saturday night to head into the final game of the series. The Steelheads notched 113 penalty minutes, which sets an ECHL franchise record for most minutes in one game, surpassing their 102 penalty minutes on Nov. 5, 2005 against the Phoenix Roadrunners and nearly doubling their previous season-high of 52 penalty minutes on December 8 against Utah (5-1 L). The 212 combined minutes is the most this season and one of the highest totals in Steelheads ECHL history. 147 (69.3%) of the combined penalty minutes came in the third period with the Steelheads garnering 77 of those minutes.

Pouring It On: Despite the fisticuffs, the Steelheads have been continuing their offensive onslaught over the last two weeks heading into the close of the calendar year. For the third-straight game, the Steelheads have scored at least six goals, outpacing their opponents 22-5 in three games while only posting 76 shots (25.33 per game) and converting on 28.9% of their shots on goal. Three of the team’s five six-plus goal nights have come in three-consecutive games. Against the Rush, the Steelheads have outscored them 21-2 in three-straight games with three of the team’s six-plus goal nights against the Rush. The Steelheads set their highest goal total on Friday night since their 12-goal night on Feb. 8, 2005 against the Victoria Salmon Kings.

Power Level 9000: The Steelheads power play has been on fire lately, adding their third-straight multi-goal game in this situation during their hot scoring stretch. The Steelheads are 8-for-17 (47.1%) during their last three games and now have multi-power play goal nights in four of their last six games, going 10-for-19 (34.5%) in that stretch. Because of their recent results, the Steelheads have the second-best power play (22.4%) in the ECHL for the first time this season, and they are also the best road power play team in the league (30.9%).

Working The Gluchs: Steelheads defenseman Nolan Gluchowski has built quite the run recently with a stellar addition of a five-point night on Saturday. The Wixom, Mich., native posted the second-straight five-point night by a Steelheads player, joining Kale Kessy’s effort (2+3=5) on Friday, and his four assists broke Kessy’s three-assist mark also set on Friday night. The defenseman extended his team-high point and assist streak to six games, posting 11 points (1g, 10a) in that span and is four games with assists away from tying the franchise mark set by Brett Robinson (10) in 2014-15. Gluchowski now has 12 points (1g, 11a) in December, only trailing Kale Kessy (4g, 10a) and Reid Petryk (7g, 7a) with 14 points.

Scoring Woes: After Saturday’s loss, the Rapid City Rush have continued a downward slide both in the divisional standings but also in a trend of results. The Rush now have losses in seven of their last 10 games along with three-straight games while being held to just one goal scored and being outpaced 17-3 in that span. The Rush are one of 10 teams in the ECHL with 100+ goals allowed, and their -30 goal differential only trails the Allen Americans (-53) and Greenville Swamp Rabbits (-35) for the lowest differential in the league.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Idaho Steelheads 31 18 10 1 2 39 .629
Utah Grizzlies 29 17 8 3 1 38 .655
Tulsa Oilers 32 15 11 4 2 36 .563
Wichita Thunder 33 15 12 3 3 36 .545
Kansas City Mavericks 29 16 11 1 1 34 .586
Rapid City Rush 34 14 15 2 3 33 .485
Allen Americans 35 8 25 0 2 18 .257

Next Game: The Steelheads open the 2019 calendar year against the Tulsa Oilers on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 6:05 p.m. from BOK Center. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. MT on 1350-AM KTIK and ECHL TV.

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