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PREVIEW: Game #59 – Steelheads vs. Thunder

Wednesday, March 6th
PREVIEW: Game #59 – Steelheads vs. Thunder

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (34-20-4) VS. WICHITA THUNDER (22-27-9)

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 6, 2019 | 7:10 P.M.CENTURYLINK ARENA | BOISE, IDRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | TV: CABLE ONE CH. 72 | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads return home to open a three-game weekend against the Wichita Thunder from CenturyLink Arena. 

Head-To-Head: With last night’s win, the Steelheads claimed the season series outright over the Mavericks with one game remaining, going 4-1-0 through five games. The Steelheads have also won six of their last seven games against the Mavericks over the last two seasons with three of those seven coming in overtime. The Steelheads are now 8-3-0 against the Mavericks in their ECHL franchise series and will close their first multi-venue series.

Last Game: The Steelheads fell 2-1 to the Kansas City Mavericks in the final game of the season series on Saturday night from Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. After the Mavericks scored the lone goal of the first period thanks to forward Corey Durocher (14:48 1st), forward Alex Dahl (1:51 2nd) answered back in the next frame to tie the game, 1-1. A shorthanded goal by Mavericks forward C.J. Eick (SH, 8:00 3rd) helped seal the 2-1 win. Mason McDonald (18-6-2) saved 35 of 36 shots in the win, while Colton Point (5-2-1) halted 33 of 35 shots in the loss.

Holding Our Destiny: The Steelheads have just 14 games remaining in the regular season and a rare opportunity this weekend. The magic number is nine for the Steelheads to make the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, and with the Steelheads playing the last team in (Wichita), there is a possibility to punch their ticket this weekend with a 12-point swing possible in three games. Overall, the Steelheads have dropped three of their last four games and have seven of their final 14 games coming at CenturyLink Arena.

Killing Them Softly: The Steelheads penalty kill continues chugging along with another perfect game on Saturday in Kansas City. The team is perfect in three-straight games (10 attempts) and four of their last five contests, going 18-for-19 (94.7%) in that stretch over the last two weeks. In that time, the Steelheads have risen from 16th to ninth in the ECHL standings for conversion rate, currently sitting at 18.2% on the season. The Steelheads are also ninth in home penalty kill percentage (19-for-123, 84.6%).

Merch Madness: The Steelheads acquired forward Will Merchant from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Monday, bringing back the third-year pro to the place where his career began. In 57 games with the Swamp Rabbits this year, the Eagan, Minn., native posted 22 points (10g, 12a) but has performed better with the Steelheads. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward owns 94 points (38g, 56a) in 139 games with the Steelheads, including 15 power play goals with 12 of those coming in his rookie season in 2016-17. That year, he broke the top-10 for Steelheads rookies in goals (21), assists (27) and points (48) and has at least 45 points in his first two professional seasons. Last year, Merchant posted 46 points (17g, 29a) in 70 games.

Points Pearced: With three points last week despite not scoring on Saturday, Steelheads forward Elgin Pearce continues to be one of the most productive players as of late. Saturday’s loss ended a four-game point streak of six points (1g, 5a) spanning nearly two weeks and marking his best point stretch of the season. His three assists in Kansas City led the team, and recently he has posted points in six of his last eight games, earning eight points (3g, 5a) in that stretch. On the season, Pearce owns 27 points (11g, 16a) through 44 games.

Road Trippin’: The Wichita Thunder open a five-game road trip and the last extended trip of the regular season. This continues a stretch mainly of road games, playing nine of 10 games since February 19 away from Intrust Bank Arena. So far, the Thunder own a 3-2-0 record with one game finishing in a shootout (Feb. 20 @ Fort Wayne, 3-2 SOW) and only one contest against a Mountain Division opponent (Feb. 28 vs. Rapid City, 2-1 W). Their last four-straight games have ended with a one-goal differential, and this stint began following a seven-game losing skid (0-6-1) and losses in nine of 10 games since January 27 against the Steelheads.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Tulsa Oilers 60 34 20 4 2 74 .617
Idaho Steelheads 58 34 20 2 2 72 .621
Utah Grizzlies 57 32 18 4 3 71 .623
Kansas City Mavericks 56 29 23 3 1 62 .554
Wichita Thunder 58 22 27 6 3 53 .457
Rapid City Rush 59 22 29 5 3 52 .441
Allen Americans 61 21 34 4 2 48 .393

Next Game: The Steelheads open the Pink in the Rink jersey auction on Friday, Mar. 8 at 7:10 p.m. when they continue their weekend against the Thunder. Tickets are available by calling 208-383-0080 or going to idahosteelheads.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 1350AM KITK and at 7:00 p.m. on Cable One Ch. 72 and ECHL.TV.

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