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PREVIEW: Game #29 – Steelheads @ Admirals

Wednesday, December 18th
PREVIEW: Game #29 – Steelheads @ Admirals

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (14-9-5) @ NORFOLK ADMIRALS (9-15-3)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 18, 2019 | 5:30 P.M. MTNORFOLK SCOPE | NORFOLK, VARADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads enter the final week before the holiday break and open a three-game series with the Norfolk Admirals from Scope Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads last met the Admirals during the 2017-18 Opening Weekend in Boise, splitting their sole two games that season, but their only road meetings came the year before in November when the Steelheads went 2-0-1 in that series. In their brief series history, the Steelheads own a 3-1-1 record against the Admirals. This is the second of seven games against the South Division after falling 3-0 to Orlando on November 20.

Last Game: The Steelheads finished the homestand on a positive note with a 5-4 win over the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night from CenturyLink Arena. Komets forward Brett McKenzie (0:16 1st) struck on the first shift, but Steelheads forward Spencer Naas (1:25 1st) quickly answered back to tie the game, 1-1. Steelheads forwards Will Merchant (17:46 1st) and Marc-Olivier Roy (PP, 4:33 2nd) as well as defenseman Colton Saucerman (7:05 2nd) helped to stretch the lead to its largest of the weekend, 4-1, before the Komets came back with two more tallies thanks to forward Brady Shaw (PP, 8:35 2nd) and McKenzie (PP, 16:51 2nd). Steelheads defenseman Brady Norrish (11:49 3rd) capitalized on a pivotal insurance goal that became the game-winner after a late goal by Shaw (PP, EA, 18:23 3rd). Despite the late push, the Steelheads held on for the 5-4 win. Colton Point (4-5-1) saved 35 of 39 shots in the win, while Cole Kehler (8-4-0) stopped 21 of 26 shots in the loss.

End of the Stand: The Steelheads finished their four-week, 12-game homestand with back-to-back wins and on a positive note despite an up-and-down stretch. The Steelheads have now earned points in four of their last five games, going 3-1-1 before heading on the road, and the recent surge also moves them to a 6-5-1 record during the homestand. This comes after a stretch falling in five of seven games during their home stretch. The Steelheads come back on the road now tied for second in the Mountain Division after sitting in third place during the last four weeks.

Power Level 9000: Before heading on the road, the Steelheads found their offensive stroke more consistently. The Steelheads averaged 3.33 goals per game, which included being shut out during their opening game on November 20, and also have scored four goals or more in six of their last 11 contests since being shut down. Despite being outscored during the entirety of the homestand, the Steelheads are now 8-2-0 when scoring four goals or more and have increased their scoring average from 2.50 goals per game to now 2.86 goals per game.

White Ranger: Steelheads captain A.J. White is on a tear coming out of the homestand after another dominant performance on Saturday. With his three assists, the Dearborn, Mich. native is on a five-game point streak, producing 10 points (4-6–10) and four multi-point games in that stretch while also earning six points (3-3–6) last week against Fort Wayne. He has come alive over the last four weeks, leading the Steelheads in points (5-9–14) during that time, earning his first-career multi-goal game (Dec. 13 vs. FW) and boasting points in eight of his last 10 contests. White now sits second on the team in assists (13) and shares second in scoring (19) while still not missing a game since the 2017-18 season.

Merching On Up: Steelheads forward Will Merchant has also climbed into the historic leaderboard after scoring his team-leading 13th goal of the season on Saturday. That tally moves him into sole possession of ninth on the Steelheads ECHL All-Time Career Points list, moving past Kael Mouillierat (2009-13) with his 120th point. The Eagan, Minn. product is also now tied with Mouillierat in career goals (55) and can move from ninth to fifth with three goals during this week. Merchant’s next mark in points comes at 129 (Evan Barlow, 2009-11) and will tie Garett Bembridge (2005-06, 2008-09) in goals with his next strike. Merchant has 120 points (55-65–120) in 180 career Steelheads games.

Ships Ahoy: The Norfolk Admirals head into the final three games of their eight-game home stretch on a roll thanks to back-to-back wins at home last weekend. With their success, the Admirals have won four of their last six contests while earning wins in three of four games separated by one goal in that time. However, the Admirals have yet to fair well against Mountain Division opponents, going 0-2-1 in three games against Wichita (6-2 L) and Allen (5-0 L; 3-2 OTL) in a three-game road weekend during early November. The Admirals have won seven of their last 11 games since November 20.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Allen Americans 27 19 5 3 0 41 .759
Idaho Steelheads 28 14 9 3 2 33 .589
Rapid City Rush 27 15 9 3 0 33 .611
Wichita Thunder 29 12 12 5 0 29 .500
Utah Grizzlies 25 12 8 4 1 29 .580
Kansas City Mavericks 25 11 12 2 0 24 .480
Tulsa Oilers 28 11 15 2 0 24 .429

Next Game: The Steelheads and Admirals meet again on Friday, Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m. from Norfolk Scope Arena. Coverage begins at 5:10 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" and ECHL.tv.

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