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PREVIEW: Game #61 – Steelheads vs. Thunder

Saturday, March 9th
PREVIEW: Game #61 – Steelheads vs. Thunder

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (35-21-4) VS. WICHITA THUNDER (23-28-9)

SATURDAY, MAR. 9, 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 finish their season series with the Wichita Thunder on Pink in the Rink Night at CenturyLink Arena.

Head-To-Head: Heading into their final meeting of the season, the Steelheads trail the Thunder by one win, holding a 2-2-1 record but have a chance to not only split the season series with a win tonight but also claim the point advantage if that win comes in regulation. After three-straight games in Wichita separated by one goal, the last two games have been a two-goal differential or higher. The Steelheads are 5-4-2 in the ECHL franchise series against the Thunder and dropped their first regulation game at CenturyLink Arena, now going 2-1-1 at home in the set.

Last Night: The Steelheads were held off by late power plays in a 4-2 loss to the Thunder on Friday night from CenturyLink Arena. The Thunder jumped out with the first two goals on the night thanks to forwards Jason Salvaggio (4:42 1st) and Corey Kalk (11:12 1st) to quickly take a 2-0 lead. The Steelheads responded the next frame from defenseman Nolan Gluchowski (PP, 8:46 2nd) followed by forward Spencer Naas (11:30 2nd) a few minutes later, tying the game at 2-2. However, the Thunder earned two more late on goals from forwards Dyson Stevenson (PP, 14:53 3rd) and Quentin Shore (EN, PP, 19:01 3rd) sealed the 4-2 result. Dylan Wells (11-5-2) halted 34 of 36 shots. Colton Point stopped three of five shots in 11:12 minutes, and Ryan Faragher (7-6-2) stopped 21 of 22 shots in 47:08 minutes of relief.

Controlling Destiny: Despite falling on Friday, the Steelheads still have an opportunity to creep closer to a spot in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. With the Thunder winning, the magic number still remains at give points earned by the Steelheads or lost by the Thunder in the final opportunity for a four-point swing game and vault within one win away from a playoff spot. So far, the Steelheads have swung four of a possible eight points in this 12-point weekend now with 12 games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season. Currently, the Steelheads hold the first tie-breaker (regulation and overtime wins) over the Thunder.

Running Into Empty: The Steelheads have seen a lot of closer games as of late, even if the score hasn’t been separated by one goal like earlier in the season. In six of their last eight games, the Steelheads and their opponents have combined to score empty net goals in six of those contests, and since the start of the third quarter, there have been empty net goals in 12 of their last 24 games. This is a stark contrast to the first half of the season, in which there were four empty net goals in 36 games. Recently, the Steelheads have scored three of the last six combined empty net tallies and have 10 of the 17 total goals in that scenario.

Steady Handed: Steelheads defenseman Nolan Gluchowski has picked up back-to-back games with goals, and his power play tally on Friday showcased his versatility on the offensive side of the ice. The goal was his fifth on the power play, moving him into a share of second on the team in power play tallies with Brad McClure and third overall on the team with 14 points (5g, 9a) in that scenario. On the season, Gluchowski already owns the longest point streak at eight games with 14 points (1g, 13a) from December 14 through January 5, and now he’s crawled into the top-five on overall scoring, boasting 32 points (9g, 23a) while sitting fourth on the team in assists and leads all Steelheads defensemen in scoring. He also sits tied for 13th among ECHL defensemen in scoring.

Call The Feds: Steelheads goaltender Ryan Faragher has been stalwart in relief situations recently as well as throughout the season, proving to be a consistently reliable presence in a unique situation. Before allowing his lone goal against last night in 47:08 minutes of relief, the Fort Frances, Ont., native had denied nearly 40-straight shots in relief, posting a 0.66 goals-against average and a .977 save percentage in his last three relief appearances. On the season, Faragher owns a 7-6-2 record with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage through 16 games.

Salvagging The Chance: Thunder forward Jason Salvaggio is having a direct impact for Wichita in his short time with the team after beginning his ECHL career with the Maine Mariners. The Hanson, Mass., native has points in three of his last four games with only six games played since February 20 with the Thunder following his acquisition, which comes after 26 points in 42 games with the Mariners. The former University of New Hampshire forward has 12 goals along with 17 assists this season in 48 games.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Tulsa Oilers 60 34 20 4 2 74 .617
Idaho Steelheads 60 35 21 2 2 74 .617
Utah Grizzlies 59 32 20 4 3 71 .602
Kansas City Mavericks 58 31 23 3 1 66 .569
Rapid City Rush 61 24 29 5 3 56 .459
Wichita Thunder 60 23 28 6 3 55 .458
Allen Americans 63 21 36 4 2 48 .381

Next Game: The Steelheads open a two-week road trip on Saturday, Mar. 16 at 5:00 p.m. MT when they take on the Orlando Solar Bears from Amway Center. Coverage begins at 4:40 p.m. on 1350AM KITK and ECHL.TV.

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