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PREVIEW #24: Steelheads vs. Rush

Sunday, December 19th
PREVIEW #24: Steelheads vs. Rush

IDAHO STEELHEADS (15-8-1) VS. RAPID CITY RUSH (11-11-3)

SUNDAY, DEC. 19, 2021 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads play their final game of the weekend and prior to the holiday break against the Rapid City Rush from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have taken the edge in the season series, winning four of seven games and holding a one-point lead over the Rush with a 4-3-0 record. This game will decide who takes the Boise portion of the 11-game season set as the final home meeting of the season. The Steelheads and Rush now have four remaining games in the season series with the finale weekend coming mid-January. The Rush have taken nine of 17 games since the start of the 2019-20, but the Steelheads are 46-21-5 against the Rush as well as 22-9-4 at Idaho Central Arena.

Last Game: The Steelheads wasted no time in getting ahead thanks to forward Luc Brown (3:12 1st) on a through-the-legs goal for the early 1-0 lead. Though the Rush answered later that period, the Steelheads edged back ahead thanks to a flip shot by forward Will Merchant (1:28 2nd) on a rush. Rapid City earned another tying tally before the Steelheads found one that wouldn’t be usurped. Forward Shawn McBride (15:13 2nd) deflected a shot from the blue line off the left post for the go-ahead tally, 3-2. Late in the game, the Steelheads earned back-to-back empty net goals thanks to defenseman Colby McAuley (EN, 18:48 3rd) and forward A.J. White (EN, 19:53 3rd) to seal the 5-2 win.

Holiday Season Finale: The Steelheads enter their final home game and the 2021 calendar year as well as the last game before the holiday break, completing a stretch with 12 of 14 games played at Idaho Central Arena since November 17. In that time, the Steelheads hold an 9-3-0-1 record to officially earn the win of both six-game homestands combined while outscoring their opponents 36-22 in that span. Friday’s win marks the third time in their last 13 games that the Steelheads have scored five goals in a game, and on the defensive side they have held opponents to two goals or less in regulation now in seven-straight games and 12 of 13 games in their recent stint. The Steelheads head into the final game before the break with a 10-4-0 record and are one of three teams to 15 wins (Newfoundland & Utah).

Power O: The Steelheads tallied a season-best 46 shots on net as part of tonight’s win, marking the first time this season the team has reached that marker. It’s also the first time since Feb. 21, 2020 that the team breached the 40-shot plateau, adding 48 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over Rapid City. The last three 40-shot games have all come against Rapid City since the 2019-20 season, all in winning efforts. The Steelheads sit in the top-10 for most shots on goal per game now at 32.29.

The Defense Effect: Steelheads forward Colby McAuley has one of two three-point nights in Friday’s win, scoring one of two empty net goals and adding two assists. The Sherwood Park, Alb. native has now played five games at defense this season while proving more than reliable in those games. With the points scored, he owns points in four of five games when playing defense, boasting six points (3-3–6) with a plus-three rating in five games, all coming at home. When McAuley drops back to play defense, the Steelheads have also won four of five games. He owns 13 points (7-6–13) in 21 games this season and breached the 100-point total for his ECHL career (48-53–101).

White Christmas: Steelheads forward A.J. White had a strong evening on Friday, earning a three-point night with an empty net goal and two assists. The Dearborn, Mich. product earned his first three-point game since his hat-trick on Opening Night (October 22) and now has multiple three-point nights for the first time since the 2019-20 season, earning three assists both on Dec. 6 & 14, 2019 against Allen and Fort Wayne. His performance moves him two assists away from becoming the fifth player in the Steelheads ECHL era to reach 100 assists, and his 148 career points is now tied with forward Rob Linsmayer (‘12-’17) for seventh on the all-time ECHL list. White also has the eighth-most games played (227) in the Steelheads ECHL era. Rushing Back: The Rapid City Rush dropped their season-best three-game win streak in Friday’s loss but still have a chance to go positive into the holiday break. The Rush have held a plus-.500 record after just three times during the 2021-22 season: October 22 (1-0-0 record), October 29 (2-1-0) and December 15 (11-10-3) with two of those three games coming after wins over the Steelheads. However, the Rush have not been two games below a .500 record yet this year and are in no danger heading into the holiday break. Overall, the Rush broke a five-game stretch of holding opponents to three goals or less and have also dropped three of their last five road games since the start of December.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 25 16 8 1 0 33 .660
Idaho Steelheads 24 15 8 0 1 31 .646
Rapid City Rush 25 11 11 1 2 25 .500
Tulsa Oilers 20 11 8 0 1 23 .575
Kansas City Mavericks 24 10 13 1 0 21 .438
Wichita Thunder 23 10 12 1 0 21 .457
Allen Americans 20 8 9 3 0 19 .475

Next Game: The Steelheads close the 2021 calendar year against the Allen Americans on Friday, Dec. 31 at 5:05 p.m. MT from Allen Event Center. Coverage begins at 4:45 p.m. on KTIK "The Ticket" (95.3FM/1350AM) & FloHockey.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Wednesday, March 20th
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, March 22nd
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
Idaho Steelheads
Saturday, March 23rd
Tulsa Oilers @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Tulsa Oilers
TUL Tulsa Oilers
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena

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