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PREVIEW #9: Steelheads @ Rush

Wednesday, November 10th
PREVIEW #9: Steelheads @ Rush

IDAHO STEELHEADS (4-4-0) @ RAPID CITY RUSH (2-3-1)

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 10, 2021 | 7:05 P.M. MTTHE MONUMENT | RAPID CITY, SDRADIO: 1350 KTIK-AM | STREAM: FLOHOCKEYCLICK HERE FOR GAME NOTES

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads enter the road portion of their 11-game season series with the first of three meetings against the Rapid City Rush from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads and Rush split their first weekend of the season with the Steelheads earning an overtime win on Saturday, Oct. 30 as the two sides enter the six-game portion of the season set from Rapid City. The Rush have won seven of their last 12 meetings with the Steelheads dating back through the 2019-20 season. Overall, the Steelheads own a 43-19-5 record against the Rush while going 22-10-1 on the road.

Last Game: The Steelheads scored early in periods to snag a 2-1 win over the Tulsa Oilers on Sunday afternoon from the BOK Center. The Steelheads struck on the first shot of the game within the first two minutes thanks to a one-time shot from forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk (1:52 1st) fed from forward Shawn McBride to grab the initial 1-0 lead. The Oilers answered late in the first period to level the scoring, but it wouldn’t take long in the next frame for the Steelheads to answer back. Forward Colton Kehler (PP, 1:40 2nd) took advantage of an early power play to deflect in his first of the year for the 2-1 lead. The Steelheads only had one shot in the third period but held strong defensively for the victory.

The Road So Far: The Steelheads have had mixed results in the first half of their six-game road trip in Tulsa but have come out with a good foundation. While the team has lost two of three games, the Steelheads have held their opponents to two goals or less in two of those three games despite being outscored 7-4 and have also converted in two of three games on the power play, going 2-for-12 (16.7%) in that time. Additionally, the Steelheads are averaging over four more shots per game than their opponents (28.67 shots for to 24.33 shots against) despite recording their lowest period shot total on Sunday of just one shot in the 3rd period.

No Home Away: The Steelheads have five road games under their belts to start the year, and the team has largely had a more difficult time converting on shots. Despite last game’s 2-for-20 (10.0%) shot conversion rate, the team is averaging just a 6.72% conversion rate through those opening five games, including scoring five goals on October 23 in Utah (5-3 W). The Steelheads have over 25 shots recorded in three of five games but are being outscored 14-9 going into their third road weekend. On the upside, the Steelheads penalty kill is perfect in four of five road games, going 7-for-9 and only allowing more than two opposing power plays once: Saturday in Tulsa (2-for-4).

Rookie Sensation: Steelheads forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk scored the first goal of the game on Sunday afternoon, continuing a stellar start for the Belarus native. With his point, the 20-year-old became the first rookie in the ECHL to reach double-digit points, standing alone with 10 points (five goals, five assists) as well as in goals while sharing the ECHL rookie lead in assists. He owns points in five of eight games to begin the season and also is tied for fourth in overall scoring across the ECHL. He leads the Steelheads in goals and points through three weeks of the year.

Mr. Consistency: Steelheads forward Shawn McBride has been a source of consistency for the team with two assists added on the weekend against Tulsa. The Victoria, B.C. native has been a key player in the middle of the ice, winning a large majority of his faceoffs (unofficially) while earning points in half of his games so far. He previously earned seven assists in 20 games with the Norfolk Admirals in the 2019-20 season, and he is on-pace to beat that mark by over five times. While he’s still waiting for his first ECHL goal, McBride owns 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 65 professional games between the AHL and the ECHL.

No Gold Rush: The Rapid City Rush have fallen into a tough stretch as of late, dropping three-straight games since their last meeting with the Steelheads on October 30. In that time, the Rush have allowed four goals or more in back-to-back games and been outscored 11-6 since falling to the Steelheads on October 30. The team has also been outshot in all six games played this season, averaging just 25.83 shots per game, second lowest in the ECHL, while allowing 35.83 shots per game, fourth most in the ECHL. The Rush have only hit the 30-shot mark on Opening Night (October 22) against Tulsa and held opponents to fewer than 30 shots only the following night. Despite that, the Rush are still averaging three goals per game.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 8 6 2 0 0 12 .750
Tulsa Oilers 6 4 2 0 0 8 .667
Kansas City Mavericks 7 4 3 0 0 8 .571
Idaho Steelheads 8 4 4 0 0 8 .500
Allen Americans 6 2 2 2 0 6 .500
Rapid City Rush 6 2 3 1 0 5 .417
Wichita Thunder 7 2 5 0 0 4 .286

Next Game: The Steelheads continue their three-game weekend against the Rapid City Rush on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on 1350AM KTIK and FloHockey.

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