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PREVIEW: Game #5 – Steelheads @ Thunder

Friday, October 25th
PREVIEW: Game #5 – Steelheads @ Thunder

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (4-0-0) VS. WICHITA THUNDER (1-2-2)

FRIDAY, OCT. 25, 2019 | 6:05 P.M. MTINTRUST BANK ARENA | WICHITA, KSRADIO: 1350 AM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads continue their three-game series with the Wichita Thunder from INTRUST Bank Arena while opening a three-game, three-day Midwest trip.

Head-To-Head: In their first two home games of the 2019-20 season, the Steelheads took down the Thunder twice with an opportunity to take the five-game season series still with two more games remaining in Wichita. All three meetings remaining, including tonight, will take place in three different excursions to Kansas. The Steelheads went 1-1-1 last season at INTRUST Bank Arena and now share the franchise series in wins with the Steelheads going 7-4-3 all-time since the ECHL & CHL merger.

Last Game: The Steelheads finished Home Opening Weekend with a 5-2 win against the Thunder on Saturday night from CenturyLink Arena. After Thunder forward Fabrizio Ricci (5:43 1st) began the scoring early, Steelheads forward Will Merchant (12:03 1st) netted the first home goals for the second-straight night to level the score, 1-1, before Thunder forward Steve Iacobellis (15:57 1st) re-took the lead at 2-1. Steelheads defensemen Brady Norrish (1:44 2nd) and Jeff King (5:06 2nd) quickly turned the scoreline around to jump ahead, 3-2. Merchant (8:19 3rd) added his second of the night, and defenseman Colton Saucerman (EN, 18:19 3rd) finished the scoring in the 5-2 win. Colton Point (1-0-0) turned aside 31 of 33 shots in the win, while Mitch Gillam (1-2-1) halted 29 of 33 shots in the loss.

Still Perfect: Through two weekends of play, the Steelheads remain unbeaten after last week’s home sweep of the Thunder to open the 2019-20 home schedule. The Steelheads creep closer to the mark set in 2009-10 for the team’s best mark to open a season, and that same year was also the last time the Steelheads started the season with wins in all games during Home Opening Weekend when the team went 3-0-0 against the Stockton Thunder. So far, the Steelheads are one of three teams remaining without a loss to open the season, joining the Florida Everblades (3-0-0) and Toledo Walleye (2-0-0), while sitting atop the ECHL with the most points.

The Merch Man: Steelheads forward Will Merchant became the first Steelheads player with a multi-goal game in Saturday’s win thanks to a two-goal night. Adding his goal on Friday, the Eagan, Minn. product sits atop the Steelheads in goals (3) and points (4) and has points in three of his first four games of the season. Since returning to the Steelheads last season on March 4 via trade, he owns 11 points (6g, 5a) in 17 games and now boasts 105 points (45g, 60a) through his 156-game Steelheads career beginning during the 2016-17 season.

Getting Saucy: Steelheads defenseman Colton Saucerman notched his second goal of the season on Saturday, marking his second-straight game with a goal while also finishing scoring in each home result. The Colorado Springs, Colo. native now has a six-game home point streak (4-2–6) dating back to Nov. 30, 2018 thanks to his pair of tallies, and two of his four goals came as game-winners. Heading into this weekend, Saucerman needs just one point to reach the 100-point plateau for his professional career, sitting at 99 points (17g, 82a) through 181 games.

Two-Headed Beast: Part of the early success for the Steelheads is a result of their goaltending play, and the pair of Tomas Sholl and Colton Point look formidable early on in the season. Sholl was named Warrior Hockey/ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the second-consecutive week, marking the second time he has won back-to-back awards and the first Steelheads player to do so in the ECHL era, all while halting 24 of 25 shots in Friday’s win. Point made his season debut on Saturday, stopping 31 of 33 shots while also making multiple dramatic saves to keep the Steelheads in the game. So far, the Steelheads back end is boasting a combined 4-0-0 record with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .954 save pct. with Sholl sitting atop the league in GAA (1.30) and save pct. (.959) and Point sitting fifth in GAA (2.00) and save pct. (.939).

Staying Local: After their three-game road trip last week, the Wichita Thunder return to the Midwest for the foreseeable future with multiple home games to last them through the end of November. Beginning tonight, the Thunder play five of their next seven games at home as well as 11 of 16 games, which means that through the first two months the team will have been away from home just eight times out of 21 total games. Heading into their third home game, the Thunder have earned points in both home games on Opening Weekend and held a 18-13-4-1 record (41 points) when playing at INTRUST Bank Arena. However, the team had difficulty on the road, owning a 11-18-5-2 record (29 points) away from home.

2018-19 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Idaho Steelheads 4 4 0 0 0 8 1.000
Rapid City Rush 5 3 1 1 0 7 .700
Allen Americans 4 3 1 0 0 6 .750
Utah Grizzlies 5 2 2 1 0 5 .500
Tulsa Oilers 7 2 5 0 0 4 .286
Wichita Thunder 5 1 2 2 0 4 .400
Kansas City Mavericks 4 1 3 0 0 2 .250

Next Game: The Steelheads open their 11-game schedule against the Allen Americans on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 6:05 p.m. from Allen Events Center. Coverage begins at 5:45 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" & ECHL.TV.

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