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PREVIEW #23: Steelheads vs. Rush

Wednesday, December 15th
PREVIEW #23: Steelheads vs. Rush

IDAHO STEELHEADS (14-7-1) VS. RAPID CITY RUSH (10-10-3)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 15, 2021 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEYTICKETS: CLICK HERE

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads begin their final weekend before the holiday break with the first of three games against the Rapid City Rush from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have won three of their first five meetings of the season now heading into the midway mark of their 11-game season series. The Steelheads won two of three in Rapid City in mid-November with a shutout in their last game while splitting their two games in Boise. The Steelheads only have three games at home remaining against the Rush and have nearly split their last two seasons with Rapid City taking eight of 15 games. Overall, the Steelheads are 45-20-5 against the Rush while going 21-9-4 at Idaho Central Arena.

Last Game: The Steelheads closed out Teddy Bear Toss night with a 4-1 win over the South Carolina Stingrays from Idaho Central Arena. It didn’t take long for the Steelheads to pounce and set the teddy bears flying thanks to defenseman Michael Prapavessis (0:44, 1st) on a shot from the high slot. Another answer came seconds later when forward Zack Andrusiak (1:16 1st) punched in a rebound off the right post to double the advantage to 2-0. Late in the opening frame, forward Shawn McBride (SH, 1845 1st) was led on a breakaway that he finished to widen the lead, 3-0. Scoring halted until the final frame when forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk (PP, 2:45 3rd) connected on a one-time shot from the right circle, and though the Stingrays broke the shutout bid on the power play, the Steelheads took home the 4-1 win.

Connect Four: For the first time this season, the Steelheads earned a full weekend sweep of their opposition, taking all three games against the Stingrays. The Steelheads had won the opening two games of their home weekends in their previous two home series but fell on the final night but took the Saturday win on the third attempt. With the win, the Steelheads have won four-straight games for the first time this season and now have won nine of 12 games at home, leading the ECHL in home wins. Additionally, the Steelheads are on a five-game point streak starting with their month-opening game in Kansas City on December 3, going 4-0-0-1 in that span.

Strike Force: The Steelheads have been evolving as the second quarter of the season is in full swing, hopping out early in contests more frequently. The Steelheads scored 44 seconds into Saturday’s game, and while that wasn’t the earliest goal scored they followed up with a second one within 32 seconds, marking the fastest two-goal spread of the season coming within the first 76 seconds. The Steelheads have now scored first in four-straight games after going through a stretch of five-straight games with a goal allowed within the opening 10 minutes, and the Steelheads are 9-3-0-0 when striking first. Additionally, the Steelheads have a plus-six goal differential in the first period (21-15) after entering last week at a minus-one.

The Zack Attack: Steelheads forward Zack Andrusiak has been heating up lately, scoring now in back-to-back games to round out the weekend. The Yorkton, Sask. native produced the team’s last two game-winning goals with his tallies and now has goals in three of his last four games after only owning three goals through his first 18 games. His recent form has moved him to six goals on the season and 14 points, sitting fourth on the team in goals and tied for fifth in scoring. Andrusiak is also slowly approaching 100 professional games, tallying 40 points (16-24–40) through 93 games.

Kup Floweth Over: Steelheads goaltender Jake Kupsky was named Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for his efforts last week against South Carolina, boasting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage. The Waukesha, Wisc. product halted 49 of 51 shots faced in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, extending his win streak to three games in the process. He has also held opponents to two goals or less in all but one of his nine games played and on the season owns a 6-2-0 record with a 1.60 GAA and a .928 save pct. with two shutouts. Kupsky currently leads the ECHL in GAA and is not only one of five qualifying goaltenders with a sub-2.00 GAA but also is one of five with at least two shutouts to his name.

Gold Rush: The Rapid City Rush have been improving their form heading into the final weekend before the holiday break thanks to wins in back-to-back games and three of their last four contests. The Rush have scored four goals or more in all three wins during that time since December 5 in Allen while holding opponents to three goals or less in all four contests. The Rush have been fighting to stay at or above a .500 record throughout the season and have only breached the .500 mark once: October 29 against the Steelheads in a 5-4 road win when they owned a 2-1-0 record. However, the Rush have never fallen below two games under .500 this season.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Idaho Steelheads 22 14 7 0 1 29 .659
Utah Grizzlies 22 13 8 1 0 27 .614
Tulsa Oilers 19 11 7 0 1 23 .605
Rapid City Rush 23 10 10 1 2 23 .500
Wichita Thunder 20 10 9 1 0 21 .525
Allen Americans 19 8 8 3 0 19 .500
Kansas City Mavericks 21 8 12 1 0 19 .405

Next Game: The Steelheads and Rush continue their weekend on Friday, Dec. 17 at 7:10 p.m. from Idaho Central Arena. Tickets are single seats only at idahosteelheads.com. 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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