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PREVIEW: Game #30 – Steelheads @ Admirals

Friday, December 20th
PREVIEW: Game #30 – Steelheads @ Admirals

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (15-9-5) @ NORFOLK ADMIRALS (9-16-3)

FRIDAY, DEC. 20, 2019 | 5:30 P.M. MTNORFOLK SCOPE | NORFOLK, VARADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads continue their three-game weekend against the Norfolk Admirals from Norfolk Scope.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have earned points in all four meetings with the Admirals on the road, boasting a 3-0-1 road record following Wednesday’s win. The Steelheads  have also taken four of six franchise meetings dating back to the 2016-17 season at a 4-1-1 record. The Steelheads last met the Admirals during the 2017-18 Opening Weekend in Boise and on the road the year prior.  This is the third of seven games against the South Division after falling 3-0 to Orlando on November 20 and Wednesday’s win.

Last Game: The Steelheads shut out the Admirals in a 2-0 win on Wednesday night from Norfolk Scope. After a scoreless first and second period as well as a potential road goal waived away, Steelheads defenseman Ondrej Vala (15:48 3rd) pushed home the first and deciding goal of the game for a 1-0 lead. The Steelheads added one insurance goal to put the game away thanks to forward Will Merchant (EN, 19:05 3rd) in the 2-0 win. Tomas Sholl (11-4-4) halted all 21 shots in the win, while Brandon Halverson (5-9-3) turned away 41 of 42 shots in the loss.

Clean Sheet: For the second time this season, the Steelheads shut out an opponent while also earning their second road shutout. The Steelheads last blanked a team on November 3 in Utah during a 1-0 win to close a three-in-three weekend. This year, the Steelheads have been part of four shutout results with two going against them, and it’s also the third shutout of the 2019 calendar year. Last season, the Steelheads earned four shutout results, and over their 68 total shutouts they’ve seen a majority come on the road (38 road, 30 home). In fact, five of their last six shutouts have come away from CenturyLink Arena.

Shollshank Redemption: Steelheads goaltender Tomas Sholl earned his second shutout of the season in Wednesday’s victory and creeps closer to historic numbers. The shutout was his ninth of his ECHL career, now sitting one behind Steve Silverthorn (‘05-’08) for the most career shutouts by a Steelheads goaltender during the ECHL era, doing so in just 69 games (13.0% shutouts in starts) compared to Silverthorn’s 121-game career in Idaho (8.3% shutouts in starts). The win also moves him into sole possession of second place for most Steelheads ECHL career goaltending wins (46), and while he still trails Silverthorn (68 wins), his 2:1 win ratio puts him on pace for 80 wins if he plays the same number of games.

No Return Policy: Steelheads forward Will Merchant helped to extend his goal streak with an empty net goal on Wednesday night, but it’s not the first time he’s hit that mark. It’s the second time he’s earned a three-game goal streak this season, posting another three-goal stretch from November 15-17 to close out a three-game, three-day weekend. Only one other player has hit that mark: A.J. White, who did so from December 7-13. Merchant is close to cracking the top-five in ECHL goal leaders, posting 13 goals through 29 games this season while trailing just two goals behind the second-most held by Allen’s Gabriel Gagne (15 goals). The Eagan, Minn. native has 56 goals in his Steelheads career, the ninth-most in the ECHL era.

White Knight: Steelheads captain A.J. White continues to carve up points thanks to an assist on Wednesday night, putting in his sixth-straight game with a point. The poit streak is the longest of his career, surpassing his five-game run from Dec. 22, 2018 through Jan. 5, 2019 that tallied seven points (3-4–7). This time around, the Dearborn, Mich. native owns 11 points (4-7–11) and four multi-point games, and he’s now three games away from the season-high mark set by forward Marc-Olivier Roy (nine games) done largely with assists. White remains in a share of second place in scoring on the team with 20 points (6-14–20).

Halv A Night: Admirals goaltender Brandon Halverson was tested early and often in Wednesday’s loss but gave the Admirals a chance to grab points. The Traverse City, Mich. product has still won three of his last five games but has seen over 40 shots in two of his last three contests. He’s averaging 35.41 shots against per game but has kept opponents to three goals or less in five of his last six contests. The former New York Rangers netminder owns the second-most saves (546) in the ECHL this season

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Allen Americans 28 20 5 3 0 43 .768
Idaho Steelheads 29 15 9 3 2 35 .603
Rapid City Rush 27 15 9 3 0 33 .611
Wichita Thunder 29 12 12 5 0 29 .500
Utah Grizzlies 26 12 9 4 1 29 .558
Tulsa Oilers 29 12 15 2 0 26 .448
Kansas City Mavericks 26 11 13 2 0 24 .462

Next Game: The Steelheads and Admirals close their weekend series on Saturday, Dec. 21 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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