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PREVIEW: Game #66 – Steelheads @ Rush

Saturday, March 23rd
PREVIEW: Game #66 – Steelheads @ Rush

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (38-22-5) @ RAPID CITY RUSH (27-31-8)

SATURDAY, MAR. 23, 2019 | 7:05 P.M. MTRUSHMORE PLAZA CIVIC CENTER | RAPID CITY, SDRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads close the road portion of their season series with the Rapid City Rush from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have points in eight-straight games thanks to their win last night, going 7-0-1 since November 24, when they suffered their lone regulation loss of the season series against the Rush. The Steelheads have already claimed the season series, boasting a 10-1-2 record as well as a 6-1-0 record at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center this year. The Steelheads have also won 21 of their last 26 meetings over the last two seasons and own a 36-11-4 all-time record against the Rush in the franchise series.

Last Night: The Steelheads staved off the Rush in a 3-1 win on Friday night from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Steelheads forward A.J. White (11:45 2nd) opened the scoring in the second half of the game despite a strong offensive start to claim the 1-0 lead. The Rush answered with their lone tally of the night by forward Justin Faryna (15:39 2nd) to tie the game, 1-1, before Steelheads forward Robbie Payne (19:03 2nd) pushed the road side ahead before the end of the second period. With the opposing netminder pulled, Steelheads forward Steve McParland (EN, 19:57 3rd) sealed the scoreline and the victory at 3-1. Ryan Faragher (8-6-2) halted 19 of 20 shots in the win, while Adam Carlson (19-15-5) stopped 29 of 31 shots in the loss.

Top Dogs: The Steelheads now have wins in three-straight games heading into their final game of the five-game road set. The Steelheads have held their opponents to two goals or less in all three wins while outscoring them 14-4 following their 6-2 loss last Saturday in Orlando. With the win, the Steelheads now also increase their lead in the Mountain Division with seven games remaining in the regular season. The Tulsa Oilers own two games in-hand over the Steelheads, meaning the Oilers still have one more maximum potential point to earn and will make up one of those games tomorrow in Wichita. The Steelheads are looking for their first division crown since 2014-15 and third in ECHL franchise history.

Hot Starts: Scoring early has been key for the Steelheads in garnering positive results down the stretch with last night being another instance of an opening goal leading to a win. Since February 13, the Steelheads have scored first nine times in those 16 games and earned a 8-1-0 record when scoring the opening goal with their lone loss coming on March 9 against Wichita (6-5 OTL). Eight of their nine total wins in that same span have come with the opening goal, and their lone instance when trailing following the first tally was on Tuesday in Orlando (7-2 W). On the year, the Steelheads have points in 28 of 32 games when scoring first, owning a 25-4-2-1 record and 53 of their 81 points (65.4%). When conceding the opening tally, the Steelheads are 13-17-1-1.

Feel The Payne: Steelheads forward Robbie Payne remains lethal in his return to Idaho for the third time this season, posting another multi-point effort with two points (1g, 1a) last night, including the game-winning goal. The Gaylord, Mich., native now owns a five-game point streak dating back to December 22 and across all three ECHL stints, boasting nine points (4g, 5a) in that span with three multi-point efforts and two game-winning goals. In just 10 games this season, the rookie forward is averaging over a point per game, tallying 11 points (6g, 5a) with three game-winners, which also places him fourth on the team in that category.

Snake Bitten: The Rapid City Rush have had a consistent scoring issue throughout the season that has been continued during their last few weeks despite earning wins in five of their last seven games. The Rush have been held to four goals or less in 15-straight games since February 9 against Wichita (7-4 W) and also have only scored four goals or more twice in their last 15 games: Monday in Utah (4-3 W) and February 23 against Atlanta (4-2 W). The team is averaging just 1.93 goals per game in that stretch, however what’s kept them in the playoff hunt is their goaltending, which has held opponents to 2.27 goals against per game and under four goals in 13 of their last 15 games. The Rush hold a league-low 2.33 goals per game.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Idaho Steelheads 65 38 22 3 2 81 .623
Tulsa Oilers 63 36 21 4 2 78 .619
Utah Grizzlies 64 34 22 4 4 86 .594
Kansas City Mavericks 64 32 27 3 2 69 .539
Rapid City Rush 66 27 31 5 3 62 .470
Wichita Thunder 63 24 29 7 3 58 .460
Allen Americans 67 23 28 4 2 52 .388

Next Game: The Steelheads finish the road portion of their season series with the Rush on Saturday, Mar. 23 at 7:05 p.m. from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on 1350AM KITK and ECHL.TV.

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