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PREVIEW: Game #62 – Steelheads @ Solar Bears

Saturday, March 16th
PREVIEW: Game #62 – Steelheads @ Solar Bears

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (35-21-5) @ ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS (33-21-5)

SATURDAY, MAR. 16, 2019 | 5:00 P.M.AMWAY CENTER | ORLANDO, FLRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV & ECHL on Facebook

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads open a five-game road trip with the first of three games against the Orlando Solar Bears from Amway Center.

Head-To-Head: This will be just the second time in franchise history that the Steelheads and Solar Bears meet with their only other occurrence coming on Nov. 12, 2015 at Amway Center in a 5-4 loss to the Solar Bears. This season, the Steelheads have played only two games against Eastern Conference opponents, winning back-to-back games against the Jacksonville Icemen on November 30 and December 1.

Last Game: The Steelheads erased a four-goal deficit to earn one point in a 6-5 overtime loss from CenturyLink Arena. Steelheads defenseman Nolan Gluchowski (11:41 1st) opened the scoring to take a 1-0 lead before the Thunder scored five-unanswered goals through the middle of the second period. Thunder forward Corey Kalk (16:07 1st), Ryan Van Stralen (4:44 2nd; 6:25 2nd), Colin Larkin (16:11 2nd) and Jason Salvaggio (16:29 2nd) all helped vault the Thunder to a 5-1 lead. Steelheads forwards Elgin Pearce (18:21 2nd) and Mitch Moroz (19:58 2nd) started the comeback push by the end of the second period to cut back, 5-3. Pearce (5:13 3rd) and Steelheads forward Spencer Naas (10:55 3rd) completed the comeback to force overtime at 5-5 before Van Stralen (PS, 2:12 OT) scored on a penalty shot for the 6-5 result. Thunder goaltender Dylan Wells (12-5-2) saved 44 of 49 shots in the win. Steelheads netminder Ryan Faragher stopped 12 of 17 shots in 36:29 minutes, and goalie Colton Point (5-2-2) halted eight of nine shots in 25:44 minutes of relief.

Controlling Destiny: The Steelheads moved two points closer to a spot in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, now holding a magic number of just four. With the Thunder taking four standings points last week then falling last night, the Steelheads moved closer by six total points won as well as lost by the Thunder for a possibility of clinching as early as Sunday with a pair of wins tonight and tomorrow. However, the Steelheads can also clinch with one win over their next two games and a loss by Rapid City, who are now the first team outside the playoff picture, tonight in Utah. With 11 games remaining, the Steelheads are just one point behind the Tulsa Oilers for first place in the Mountain Division and second in the Western Conference with a game in-hand on the Oilers.

Comeback Kids: Despite falling in overtime last Saturday, the Steelheads erased a season-high four-goal deficit to earn one point after trailing 5-1 with 3:31 remaining in the second period. The last time the Steelheads performed such a feat was Dec. 16, 2015 against the Utah Grizzlies, during which the Steelheads scored eight-unanswered goals following four goals allowed in the first 15:20 minutes to win 8-5 at CenturyLink Arena. Saturday’s loss was the first time this season the Steelheads have allowed six goals or more and the first time the Steelheads lost when scoring five goals or more on the season. The Steelheads are still 24-0-2-0 when scoring four goals or more this season and are 2-3-2-0 when allowing five goals or more.

Stoking The Fire: The Steelheads have had a number of players produce more frequently in recent weeks, however the combination of forwards Mitch Moroz, Elgin Pearce and Kyle Schempp has been fruitful in continuing production. The three players combined for 10 of the 16 points (62.5%) recorded by forwards over last week’s games, led by Moroz (1g, 3a) with a pair of multi-point games. On that vain, the trio have combined five multi-point games in their last six contests, and in that same span there have been at least two of those three with points in four of those games. Since February 20, Moroz leads the team in scoring with 11 points (2g, 9a) followed right behind by Pearce (3g, 6a) and Schempp (5g, 3a).

Solar Powered: The Solar Bears have been riding a hot streak en route to a near berth into the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs and have been earning points consistently over the last two months. Despite a shootout loss on Wednesday, the Solar Bears still earned a point, making it three-straight games with points and tallies in 10 of their last 12 games since February 15, going 8-2-1-1 and averaging 4.67 goals per game in that stretch. Backing up to the start of February, the Solar Bears own a 13-3-1-1 record and have breached the 70-point mark as the second South Division team to do so. The Solar Bears currently have a magic number of 10 on South Carolina with 13 games remaining this season.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Tulsa Oilers 62 25 21 4 2 76 .613
Idaho Steelheads 61 35 21 3 2 75 .615
Utah Grizzlies 61 32 21 4 4 72 .600
Kansas City Mavericks 60 32 23 3 2 67 .568
Rapid City Rush 63 26 29 5 3 60 .468
Wichita Thunder 62 24 29 6 3 57 .467
Allen Americans 65 22 37 4 2 50 .385

Next Game: The Steelheads and Solar Bears continue their series on Sunday, Mar. 17 at 3:30 p.m. MT from EDV Sportsplex. Coverage begins at 3:41 p.m. on 1350AM KITK.

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