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PREVIEW: Division Semifinal Game #1 – Steelheads vs. Grizzlies

Friday, April 12th
PREVIEW: Division Semifinal Game #1 – Steelheads vs. Grizzlies

MOUNTAIN DIVISION SEMIFINAL:IDAHO STEELHEADS VS. UTAH GRIZZLIES

FRIDAY, APR. 12, 2019 | 7:10 P.M. MTCENTURYLINK ARENA | BOISE, IDRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | TV: CABLE ONE CH. 72 | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads open the 2019 U.S. Bank Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by SmileDirectClub, with Game 1 of the Mountain Division Semifinal against the Utah Grizzlies at Centurylink Arena.

Head-To-Head: This is the third postseason meeting between the Steelheads and Grizzlies in the ECHL era, with their last meeting coming in the 2015 Pacific Division Semifinals when the Grizzlies took the series 4-2. Their first meeting was in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinal, and the Steelheads swept the series 4-0 en route to a Kelly Cup Final appearance. The Steelheads are 75-56-17 all-time in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 16-13 series record, while the Grizzlies are 46-63-15 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 10-18 series record. In the regular season, the Grizzlies took the series with nine wins in 15 games, slotting the Steelheads with a 6-8-1 record while going 4-3-0 at CenturyLink Arena.

Last Year: The Steelheads advanced to the Mountain Division Final for the first time since 2015, taking the Allen Americans 4-3 in the divisional semifinal followed by a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Colorado Eagles. The Steelheads trailed 3-0 in the opening series and executed just the second reverse-sweep of a playoff series in ECHL history, rallying to win four-straight games including the final two at CenturyLink Arena. However, the Eagles took all four games in the next series with two of those four going into overtime. Forward Max French (5g, 5a) led the team in goals and scoring, sharing the scoring lead with forward Cole Ully (2g, 8a), who also led in assists. Philippe Desrosiers led in net with a 4-3-2 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .934 save pct.

Just Keep Swimming: The Steelheads head into their 16th consecutive Kelly Cup Playoffs since joining the league in 2003-04 and 22nd-straight postseason appearance since the franchise began in 1997-98. After clinching on March 17 in Orlando, the Steelheads broke the ECHL record for consecutive postseason appearances and extended their run that leads both professional hockey and North American professional sports, sharing that 22-year stretch with the San Antonio Spurs (NBA). The Steelheads have won three Western Conference Titles (2004, 2007, 2010) and two Kelly Cup Championships (2004, 2007) over the last 15 seasons.

How It Ended: The Steelheads closed the book on the 2018-19 regular season with a 41-25-4-2 record and 88 points, finishing second place in the Mountain Division and fourth in the Western Conference with a .611 point pct. It’s the third time in the last four years and second-straight season that the Steelheads finish in second and hold home-ice advantage in the Mountain Division Semifinals. Over their last 16 seasons, the Steelheads have slotted in the top-two in 10 of those 16 years (.625). The team is looking for their second-straight Mountain Division Final appearance and ninth second-round appearance overall.

Iron Giants: The Steelheads had two players that skated in all 72 games over the 2018-19 regular season. Defenseman Keegan Kanzig and A.J. White became the first players to play in every games since Corbin Baldwin and Joe Basaraba in 2016-17 and two of just 12 players in the ECHL era to play in every regular season game in 13 different instances with Corbin Baldwin (2015-16; 2016-17) being the only repeat Iron Man on the roster. Both Kanzig and White had career seasons with Kanzig posting 17 points (4g, 13a) with a team-best plus-30 rating and White boasting 51 points (16g, 51) while leading the team in assists and sitting second in scoring.

Super Special: Special teams played a large factor in the regular season series and lines up to do the same in the postseason. The Steelheads and Grizzlies both shot higher than their season average on the power play head-to-head with the Grizzlies (18-for-76, 23.7%) beating out the Steelheads (11-for-56, 19.6%) in part thanks to 20 more  opportunities. The Steelheads finished ninth in power play pct. (18.8%) at the end of the regular season while the Grizzlies slotted in third (20.8%). On the penalty kill, the Grizzlies (8th, 84.3%) and Steelheads (9th, 83.7%) finished close together on the season.

Hear The Roar: The Utah Grizzlies enter their 19th appearance in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with now 11 in their last 12 years since 2008, only missing out last season in that stretch. The Grizzlies have only reached the Western Conference Final once, falling to the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2008 after taking down Fresno and Victoria in the opening two series, while only reaching the second round twice in their last six appearances. However, the Grizzlies have reached league semifinal appearances three times, adding on back-to-back appearances in 1995 and 1996 against Richmond and Charlotte, respectively, to their 2008 conference final appearance. The Grizzlies made their first Kelly Cup Playoff appearance in 1990 and won their first series in 1995 during their fourth playoff appearance.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION SEMIFINALS:

#2 Idaho Steelheads vs. #3 Utah GrizzliesGame 1: Friday, Apr. 12 – CenturyLink Arena • Boise, IDGame 2: Saturday, Apr. 13 – CenturyLink Arena • Boise, IDGame 3: Wednesday, Apr. 17 – Maverik Center • West Valley City, UTGame 4: Friday, Apr. 19 – Maverik Center • West Valley City, UT*Game 5: Saturday, Apr. 20 – Maverik Center • West Valley City, UT*Game 6: Monday, Apr. 22 – CenturyLink Arena • Boise, ID*Game 7: Tuesday, Apr. 23 – CenturyLink Arena • Boise, ID(*if necessary)

#1 Tulsa Oilers vs. #4 Kansas City MavericksGame 1: Thursday, Apr. 11 – KC wins 6-4Game 2: Sunday, Apr. 14 – BOK Center • Tulsa, OKGame 3: Wednesday, Apr. 17 – Silverstein Eye Centers Arena • Independence, MOGame 4: Friday, Apr. 19 – Silverstein Eye Centers Arena • Independence, MO*Game 5: Saturday, Apr. 20 – Silverstein Eye Centers Arena • Independence, MO*Game 6: Tuesday, Apr. 23 – BOK Center • Tulsa, OK*Game 7: Wednesday, Apr. 24 – BOK Center • Tulsa, OK(*if necessary)

Next Game: Game 2 of the Mountain Division Semifinals between the Steelheads and Grizzlies begins on Saturday, Apr. 13 at 7:10 p.m. from CenturyLink Arena. Tickets are available by calling 208-383-0080 or going to idahosteelheads.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" and at 7:00 p.m. on Cable One Ch. 72 and ECHL.TV.

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