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PREVIEW: Game #52 – Steelheads @ Walleye

Sunday, February 16th
PREVIEW: Game #52 – Steelheads @ Walleye

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (28-16-7) @ TOLEDO WALLEYE (28-14-5)

SUNDAY, FEB. 16, 2020 | 3:15 P.M. MTHUNTINGTON CENTER | TOLEDO, OHRADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: ECHL TV

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads close their two-game weekend and season series this evening from Huntington Center.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads won their first game in Toledo during the ECHL era and can go for their second season series win in as many chances with a victory tonight. The Steelheads have also won five of their six games against the Central Division this season after winning four of five games against the Fort Wayne Komets. Now, the Steelheads are 4-2-0 against the Walleye in their last two seasons but hold wins in eight of 10 games against the Walleye including the former Toledo Storm in the WCHL.

Last Night: The Steelheads surged in the second period en route to a 4-2 win over the Walleye on Saturday night from Huntington Center. Walleye forward Abbott Girduckis (6:36 1st) opened the scoring as the lone goal early before three-straight Steelheads tallies. Forward Will Merchant (5:27 2nd) knuckled in the tying goal, 1-1, then forward Zack Andrusiak (6;46 2nd) batted in a second tally followed by defenseman Jeff King (8:56 2nd) in transition to lead ahead with a 3-1 lead. The Walleye added one more to cut into the lead, 3-2, thanks to forward Jimmy Lodge (17:42 2nd) on a 2-on-1 break. Despite the push back, Steelheads forward A.J. White (EN, 19:30 3rd) sealed off the score at a 4-2 win. Tomas Sholl (22-7-5) stopped 28 of 30 shots in the win, while Filip Larsson (3-3-0) halted 33 of 36 shots in the loss.

Heating Up: The Steelheads are off to a strong start in February, winning their third-straight game and four of their last five games since crossing into the new month. While the Steelheads have only averaged 2.80 goals per game in their last five contests, they’ve also held opponents to two goals or less in all five games (1.40 GA/gm) and are averaging a 7.80 more shots per game than their opposition. While results have been mixed, the Steelheads own points in seven of their last nine games since January 20 with a 5-2-2 record and are going for just their third four-game win streak of the season with a win tonight.

Second Is The Best: The Steelheads have been locked in during the second period this season with Saturday’s win adding to their strong middle frame. The Steelheads recorded three goals in a period for the seventh time this season with their last three all coming in the second period, and now the team has a plus-12 goal differential in that frame. Their 41 goals allowed in the middle frame is the third-fewest in the ECHL behind South Carolina (29) and Indy (40). The Steelheads also share the most wins when trailing after the first period with Cincinnati (10).

Long Term Success:  Steelheads forwards Brett Supinski and A.J. White have been two of the hottest players over the last four weeks and continued grabbing points last night. White’s empty net goal extended his second goal streak of the year to three games with four points (3-1–4), and Supinski’s assist nets him three-straight games with helpers. Since January 20, the pair each have points in seven of their last nine games with White (6-3–9) leading in both goals and scoring across the team and Supinski (1-7–8) closely behind in overall scoring. White sits in second on the team in all major scoring categories (14-22–36) through 51 games and is two goals away from tying his career-high set last season. Supinski leads all rookie skaters on the team with 26 points (12-14–26).

Two Centuries: Steelheads defensemen Jeff King and Ondrej Vala both hit their 100th game with the organization in last night’s win, and each have had their own successes. King’s goal last night tied his career-best set last season in 32 fewer games while helping his cause with a five-game point streak as a forward this season. Vala owns a plus-17 rating this season in 45 games, breaking his mark set last season in 10 fewer games while also setting a new career-best in goals (four) and sitting one point from last year’s mark. On their careers, King owns 50 points (12-38–50) with three power play goals over the last two seasons, and Vala has posted 25 points (7-18–25) with a plus-33 rating, the best mark in that category on the team in the last two years. King now shares the 10th-most career points by defenseman with Brady Norrish.

Bounce Back Year: Walleye forward Josh Winquist ended an eight-game point streak in last night’s loss but is having quite the rebound season with a new organization. After only playing five games last year with the Utah Grizzlies, the St. Albert, Alb. native has already hit the 40-point plateau and helped continue his streak with four-straight years of over one point per game in the ECHL between Bakersfield, Orlando, Utah and Toledo. During his recent streak, Winquist boasted 11 points (3-8–11) while also posting points in two-thirds of his 36 games. He owns 40 points (10-30–40) and is five assists from tying his ECHL career-best in 2017-18 with Orlando (35).

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Allen Americans 53 34 11 6 2 76 .717
Utah Grizzlies 52 30 15 5 2 67 .644
Idaho Steelheads 51 28 16 3 4 63 .618
Rapid City Rush 51 27 20 4 0 58 .569
Tulsa Oilers 54 24 24 5 1 54 .500
Wichita Thunder 56 21 27 8 0 50 .446
Kansas City Mavericks 52 22 26 3 1 48 .462

Next Game: The Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7:10 p.m. against the Kansas City Mavericks. Tickets are available by calling 208-331-TIXS(8497) or going to idahosteelheads.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & ECHL.tv.

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