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PREVIEW: Game #43 – Steelheads @ Grizzlies

Monday, January 20th
PREVIEW: Game #43 – Steelheads @ Grizzlies

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (23-14-5) @ UTAH GRIZZLIES (22-11-7)

MONDAY, JAN. 20, 2020 | 1:10 P.M. MTMAVERIK CENTER | WEST VALLEY CITY, UTRADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: ECHL TV

Today’s Game: The Steelheads open a four-game road trip over the next seven days with a Monday matinee against the Utah Grizzlies from Maverik Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads meet the Grizzlies for the first time since November 3 after playing head-to-head in five of the first 10 games of the season. All five games have been won by the road team, and the Steelheads are 4-1-0 heading into the fifth of seven road meetings in the series. This is game six of the 16-game season series between the two sides, and the Steelheads own a 102-51-26 record against the Grizzlies in the franchise series.

Last Game: The Steelheads slipped in the third period during a 3-1 loss to the Tulsa Oilers on Saturday night from CenturyLink Arena. For the first time in the series, one team scored in the opening period thanks to Oilers defenseman Charlie Granath (0:34 1st) on the first shift for a 1-0 lead. The Steelheads answered late in the second period, 1-1, on a strong passing effort finished by forward Will Merchant (PP, 19:36 2nd). However, the Oilers netted two goals in the third period starting with forward Jacob Benson (14:04 3rd) followed by forward Robbie Jackson (PP, 19:21 3rd) to seal off the 3-1 result. Olle Eriksson Ek (7-9-2) stopped 34 of 35 shots in the win, while Tomas Sholl (17-6-4) saved 14 of 17 shots in the loss.

Road, Sweet Road: The Steelheads return to a place where they’ve felt more comfortable this season: on the road. The Steelheads have won three-straight games away from CenturyLink Arena since January 5 while averaging 3.33 goals per game in that time. This is the first of a four-game road trip spanning seven days ahead of a stretch with five of six weeks at home. Overall, the Steelheads are in the midst of a stretch with 13 of 18 games away from home since December 18, and so far the Steelheads are 9-5-0 heading into their final four games as well as 7-2-0 on the road in that time. This year, the Steelheads are 13-5-4 on the road, which is the third-most road wins in the ECHL behind South Carolina (16) and Florida (14).

Powered Up: Over the last three weeks, the Steelheads power play has kept their pace up in scoring with the help of their tally on Saturday night. Though they only scored once in three games over the last week, the Steelheads have scored in four of six games on the power play since January 5, going 5-for-23 (21.7%) in that time while staying consistently around 18 percent for the season. On an even larger scale, the Steelheads have scored in six of their last 10 games since returning from the holidays with a 7-for-32 (21.9%) conversion rate. The Steelheads are 10th in the ECHL in power play pct. (17.8%).

The Merch Man: Steelheads forward Will Merchant has picked up the point pace since the start of the third quarter of the season on January 5. In that time, the Eagan, Minn. native has points in four of his last six contests with four points (1-3–4) while earning his first goal on Wednesday since December 18 (12 games) when he scored goals in three-straight games and four of six contests. His team-leading 15th goal keeps him solidly in the lead on the team overall as well as power play goals (five) while coming within one point of second place in scoring at 26 points (15-11–26) through 42 games. His next goal will vault him to fifth on the Steelheads all-time ECHL era goal list, now sitting in a four-way tie in fifth at 57 goals.

King of Points: Steelheads defenseman Jeff King continues his renaissance as a forward with another helper in Saturday’s loss. The St. Clair, Mich. product also has points in four of his last six games in the third quarter with six points (3-3–6) while adding points in eight of 11 contests since December 18 with 12 points (4-8–12). After missing three games and playing in one game before New Year’s Eve, King was placed at forward and has been lighting up the scoresheet, raising his season total to 17 points (5-12–17) through 26 games, sitting one goal from his career-high total and on-pace to break his career-high point total (31) set last season.

Into The Wild: The Utah Grizzlies have become a dominant team since their last meetings with the Steelheads in early November evidenced by their most recent five-game point streak (4-0-1 record) since January 11. Since November 9 when the Grizzlies held a 3-6-2-1 record, they have earned a 19-5-3-1 record (.750) with four point streaks of three points or more including two seven-game stretches with crossing into December (5-0-2 record) and a second going through the holidays (6-0-1). The Grizzlies have not lost more than two-straight games in regulation and three games overall since November 9 while sitting as one of the top-four teams in the ECHL during that stretch.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Allen Americans 43 28 8 6 1 63 .733
Idaho Steelheads 42 23 14 3 2 51 .607
Utah Grizzlies 40 22 11 5 2 51 .638
Rapid City Rush 41 22 16 3 0 47 .573
Wichita Thunder 44 18 19 7 0 43 .489
Tulsa Oilers 43 18 21 3 1 40 .465
Kansas City Mavericks 39 17 20 2 0 36 .462

Next Game: The Steelheads hit the road for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day meeting against the Utah Grizzlies on Monday, Jan. 20 at 1:10 p.m. from Maverik Center. Coverage begins at 12:45 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" and ECHL.tv.

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