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PREVIEW: Game #51 – Steelheads @ Walleye

Saturday, February 15th
PREVIEW: Game #51 – Steelheads @ Walleye

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (27-16-7) @ TOLEDO WALLEYE (28-13-5)

SATURDAY, FEB. 15, 2020 | 5:15 P.M. MTHUNTINGTON CENTER | TOLEDO, OHRADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads begin a fish-on-fish battle weekend against the Toledo Walleye from Huntington Center.

Head-To-Head: met the Walleye for the first time in franchise history last season in a five-game season series, and the Steelheads took the set with a 3-2-0 record thanks to three wins at home. However, the Walleye won the first two meetings at Huntington Center on November 1 & 2 after the Steelheads won all four meetings against the former Toledo Storm in the early 2000s. This is the final set of games against Central Division opponents for the Steelheads this year, and so far the Steelheads own a 4-1-0 record, all coming against the Fort Wayne Komets.

Last Game: The Steelheads closed out their four-game homestand with a 2-1 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday night from CenturyLink Arena. Scoring began in the second period thanks to Steelheads forward Colby McAuley (PP, 7:47 2nd) to jump out to a 1-0 lead. The Grizzlies answered later in the frame on a deflection by forward Mitch Maxwell (11:35 2nd) to force a 1-1 draw. The Steelheads only needed one goal to finish off the game, and captain A.J. White (6:09 3rd) provided the final blow while the Steelheads held off a late push for the 2-1 win. Tomas Sholl (21-7-5) stopped 34 of 35 shots in the win, while Martin Ouellette (17-8-2) halted 21 of 23 shots in the loss.

Home Remedy?: The Steelheads won back-to-back games in regulation to close their four-game homestand before heading back on the road. The two-win weekend was the first at home since December 13 & 14 against Fort Wayne at the end of their last homestand but also the first time the Steelheads swept a two-game home weekend since October 18 & 19 against Wichita, which was the first home weekend for the Steelheads and second week of the season. The Steelheads went 3-1-0 in their last four games at home heading into their lone road weekend in February.

Killing In The Name: The Steelheads penalty kill remains as one of the best in the ECHL thanks to their perfect 4-for-4 effort last Saturday. That brings their perfect streak to eight-straight games and 23-straight attempts since January 20 as well as 11 of their last 12 games (35-for-36, 97.2%) with their only power play goal on January 18 against Tulsa. The Steelheads penalty kill still has been buzzing since December 18, and over their last 21 games they have held opponents from scoring in 17 of those 21 games (81.0%) while boasting a 69-for-74 (93.2%) conversion rate and one multi-power play goal game allowed. The Steelheads have moved all the way to third place (87.0%) in the ECHL after being 16th (82.4%) at the start of this run.

White Knight: Steelheads captain A.J. White is heating up in the back half of a quarter segment once again now with game-winning goals in back-to-back games with the opening goal on Friday and the third period tally on Saturday. After going scoreless in six-straight games to open the third quarter beginning on January 5, the Dearborn, Mich. native has points in six of his last eight games, posting seven points (5-2–7) with goals in five of those six contests. This is the best stretch since his eight-game point streak from December 6-21 (4-11–15) but his best goal stretch of his career. White is second in all three major scoring categories (13-21–34) and  has scored the team’s first goal in four of their last eight games.

The McTriple: Steelheads forward Colby McAuley remains red hot after returning home for the previous homestand, now scoring in three-straight games with four points in that stretch as well to open February. This comes while the Sherwood Park, Alb. native recorded the team’s first Gordie Howe hat-trick (goal, assist, fight) of the season on Friday. Two of his last three goals have opened the game, and combined with captain A.J. White the pair have combined for five of the team’s last seven opening goals in a game. McAuley owns six points (4-2–6) in 10 games since being acquired by the Steelheads and debuting on January 17.

Keepin’ Swimmin’: The Toledo Walleye dropped their three-game win streak in last night’s overtime loss in Kalamazoo but have been cruising as of late to make a surge in the Central Division. The win extends their point streak to four games, and now the Walleye have points in nine of their last 10 games (8-1-1-0) since January 18. In that time, they’ve held opponents to three goals or less in nine of those 10 games with their lone exception coming last night (4-3 OTL), and they’ve seen post-regulation play in six of those games (5-1 record). The Walleye have the fewest games played (46) in the ECHL for the remainder of the season and are in the midst of one of their seven three-game, three-day stretches to close the season.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Allen Americans 52 34 10 6 2 76 .731
Utah Grizzlies 51 29 15 5 2 65 .637
Idaho Steelheads 50 27 16 3 4 61 .610
Rapid City Rush 50 26 20 4 0 56 .560
Tulsa Oilers 53 23 24 5 1 52 .491
Wichita Thunder 55 21 26 8 0 50 .455
Kansas City Mavericks 51 22 25 3 1 48 .471

Next Game: The Steelheads close their two-game weekend against the Walleye on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3:15 p.m. from Huntington Center. Coverage begins at 2:55 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" & ECHL.tv.

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