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PREVIEW: Game #1 – Steelheads @ Grizzlies

Friday, October 11th
PREVIEW: Game #1 – Steelheads @ Grizzlies

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (0-0-0) @ UTAH GRIZZLIES (0-0-0)

FRIDAY, OCT. 11, 2019 | 7:10 P.M. MTMAVERIK CENTER | WEST VALLEY CITY, UTRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads open the 2019-20 regular season with a road meeting against the Utah Grizzlies from Maverik Center.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads and Grizzlies again meet 15 times this season with seven of those games coming on the road. Last year, the Grizzlies took the season series, slotting the Steelheads with a 6-8-1 record as well as a 2-5-1 road record. The two sides also met in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs with the Steelheads taking that series 4-1 thanks to four-straight overtime wins. Since the Grizzlies joined the ECHL in 2005-06, the Steelheads own a 98-50-25 regular season record in the franchise head-to-head series.

Preseason Weekend: The Steelheads and Grizzlies split their home-and-home preseason series with a 5-2 loss in Utah followed by a 5-1 win at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads broke a four-game unbeaten streak in the preseason but played both from an early lead as well as a deficit during the weekend. Forward Zack Andrusiak (2-1–3) led the team in scoring during the weekend and was the only player on either team with goals in both games. Forwards Joe Basaraba, Anthony Nellis and A.J. White also had multi-point weekends. Goaltender Tomas Sholl earned the win Saturday, stopping 25 of 26 shots.

2018-19 In Review: The Steelheads enter the 2019-20 season after finishing with a 41-25-4-2 record and 88 points, sitting in second place in the Mountain Division for the second-straight year and third in the last four seasons while also holding the sixth-best record in the ECHL. Their postseason appearance marked a league-record 16th-straight playoff appearance while continuing the longest active playoff streak in North American sports at 22 seasons. In the first round, the Steelheads became the first team in ECHL history with four-straight games with overtime wins in a playoff series to claim a 4-1 series victory. However, the Steelheads fell in the Mountain Division Final to the Tulsa Oilers in six games.

Run It Back: The Steelheads roster has a combined 2,282 games of regular season professional experience entering the 2019-20 season with 1,766 games in the ECHL. Forward Joe Basaraba leads the team both in games played (318) and points (87-115–202) heading into the season. 14 players return to the Steelheads from the 2018-19 roster, and seven more players have rookie eligibility to begin the season. Additionally, seven of the eight defenseman and two of the three goaltenders all played with the Steelheads last season. Five total players have been assigned to the Steelheads with three (Tanner Jago, Anthony Nellis, Tomas Sholl) from the Texas Stars and two (Colton Point, Ondrej Vala) from the Dallas Stars.

Opening Night: The Steelheads open the season on the road for the third time in four seasons with a trip to Utah for the second time in the last four seasons. The last road win to open the season came on Oct. 17, 2014 against Utah (3-1 W) after dropping their last two road season openers. Last year, the Steelheads fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Wichita Thunder. Since 2006-07, the Steelheads are 4-2-0-1 in road games to begin a season with a 3-3-0-1 record against the Grizzlies (home and road). Overall, the Steelheads are 8-3-0-3 in season-opening games in that time. 

Grizzlies Digest: The Utah Grizzlies ended the 2018-19 regular season in third place in the Mountain Division, finishing with a 37-26-4-5 record and 83 points, their best finish since the 2015-16 season. However, the team fell to the Steelheads in the 2019 Mountain Division Semifinals, marking a first-round exit in five of their last seven playoff appearances. The Grizzlies have made the postseason in 11 of their last 12 years with their lone exception coming in 2017.

A New Coat: The Grizzlies begin the 2019-20 regular season with eight players returning from last year’s team, including five forwards and eight defensemen. Defenseman Taylor Richart returns as the team’s active leading scorer (8-23–31) while playing all 72 games , and forward Josh Dickinson (8-21–29) holds the most points as a forward in just 31 games last year. All three goaltenders join the organization for the first time led by former Kansas City Maverick Mason McDonald as well as Hunter Miska, who spent the last two seasons with the Tucson RoadRunners and made his NHL debut in Arizona on Nov. 13, 2018.

2018-19 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Tulsa Oilers 72 42 24 4 2 90 .625
Idaho Steelheads 72 41 25 4 2 88 .611
Utah Grizzlies 72 37 26 4 5 83 .576
Kansas City Mavericks 72 36 30 4 2 78 .542
Wichita Thunder 72 29 31 9 3 70 .486
Rapid City Rush 72 30 33 5 4 69 .479
Allen Americans 72 25 41 4 2 56 .389

Next Game: The Steelheads close the first weekend of the season against the Grizzlies on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:10 p.m. from Maverik Center. 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 ECHL.TV.

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