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PREVIEW #21: Steelheads vs. Stingrays

Thursday, December 9th
PREVIEW #21: Steelheads vs. Stingrays

IDAHO STEELHEADS (12-7-1) VS. SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS (9-7-2)

FRIDAY, DEC. 9, 2021 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 93.1 FM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEYTICKETS: CLICK HERECLICK HERE FOR GAME NOTES

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads continue their lone three-game weekend against the South Carolina Stingrays on Military Night from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads won their first of three games against the Stingrays on Wednesday, now earning wins in three of their last four games in Boise dating back to the 2019-20 season when the Steelheads also earned wins in two of three contests before the end of the pandemic-shortened season. The Steelheads have now won six of nine games against the Stingrays with a 6-3-0 record since the inaugural 2003-04 ECHL season while moving their home record to 3-3-0 in that time. The Steelheads have seven games against South Division teams this year and own a 21-14-3 combined record all-time against current members of that division.

Last Game: The Steelheads earned their second-straight shutout with a 3-0 win over the Stingrays on Wednesday from Idaho Central Arena. The Steelheads controlled the pacing of the game from the outset and earned two early power plays out of it. On their second man-advantage, forward Kyle Marino (PP, 10:01 1st) tipped a shot from the blue line while standing net front to open the scoring. Turnovers and offensive presence became a theme in goals for the Steelheads with forward Will Merchant (17:46 1st) converting net front off the crossbar after creating time worked in the offensive end for the 2-0 lead. The Steelheads added one more in the final frame off another turnover finished by forward Luc Brown (15:53 3rd) to seal off the eventual 3-0 win. Matt Jurusik halted all 24 shots in the victory. 

Doubled Down: The Steelheads earned back-to-back shutouts for the first time this season, stopping 51-consecutive shots over two games in Kansas City and against South Carolina. It’s the first time since Feb. 29, 2020 and Mar. 4, 2020 that the Steelheads earned back-to-back shutouts when Colton Point (25 saves) shut down Utah and Tomas Sholl (25 saves) followed the following Wednesday against South Carolina. The Steelheads also stopped the Stingrays in back-to-back shutouts once in team history on Mar. 15-16, 2018 when Sholl stopped 50-straight shots in two days. The Steelheads have had back-to-back shutouts just six times in the ECHL era with the first two shutouts in the ECHL era coming back-to-back on Nov. 7-8, 2003 against Cincinnati thanks to Dan Ellis (33 saves) and Blair Allison (33 saves).

Kickstart My Heart: Thought the Steelheads are known as a second period team through their performance early in the season, they excelled both in the first and third periods in last night’s win. The Steelheads grabbed two goals in the first period for the second time in three games while ending a stretch of five-straight games allowing a goal within the opening 10 minutes when opponents have scored. Prior to Wednesday, the Steelheads have scored the fewest number of goals in the first period (15), and their only period trailing opponents in goal differential was the third frame (-1). Now, the Steelheads have 17 goals in both the first and third periods while no longer trailing in goal differential in any period.

Brick Wall Battery: The Steelheads have produced great defensive numbers this season thanks, in part, to their goaltending tandem of Matt Jurusik and Jake Kupsky. Each took part in one game of the back-to-back shutouts on Saturday and Wednesday for their third-combined shutout of the year, and the team has held opponents to two goals or less in 10 of 14 games during regulation when either has played while earning points in nine of those 10 contests. Both sit in the top-five in GAA on the season with Kupsky (1.82) sitting third and Jurusik (1.86) owning fourth as well as fifth in save percentage (.929). Including Adam Scheel (2.37), all three goaltenders are in the top-15 in GAA.

Special Deliveries: Steelheads forward Luc Brown made another splash on Wednesday with another goal in the third period, extending his goal streak to three-straight games. He’s the first skater to reach a three-game goal streak on the season, posting five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in that time and scoring exclusively in the first and third periods. The Napanee, Ont. native is having a career season, reaching 15 points (7-8–15) in just 20 games for fourth in scoring, blowing out his three-point rookie season between Greenville and Orlando in nine games last year.

Stingers Sunk: The South Carolina simultaneously erased both their six-game point streak as well as their six-game streak of post-regulation results in Wednesday’s shutout loss. The Stingrays have been shut out three times this season, suffering their first on November 17 in Norfolk (3-0 L) and second the next game on November 19 in Greenville (2-0 L). The Stingrays have allowed three goals or more in six of their last eight games and now own a 3-5-0 record both on the road and against all teams not named Atlanta or Greenville, who they have played a combined 10 times out of 19 games.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAMGPWLOTLSOLPTSPCT
Idaho Steelheads201270125.625
Utah Grizzlies211281025.595
Tulsa Oilers181160123.639
Wichita Thunder181071021.583
Rapid City Rush218101219.452
Kansas City Mavericks198101017.447
Allen Americans17683015.441

Next Game: The Steelheads finish their weekend against the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 7:10 p.m. from Idaho Central Arena on Teddy Bear Toss For Tots Night. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on KTIK "The Ticket" (95.3FM/1350AM) as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & FloHockey.

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