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PREVIEW #36: Steelheads @ Rush

Saturday, January 22nd
PREVIEW #36: Steelheads @ Rush

IDAHO STEELHEADS (19-15-1) VS. RAPID CITY RUSH (18-14-5)

FRIDAY, JAN. 22, 2022 | 7:05 P.M. MTMONUMENT ICE ARENA | RAPID CITY, SDRADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads enter the midway game of their three-in-three with the Rapid City Rush from The Monument.

Head-To-Head: Despite dropping last night’s game, the Steelheads still hold the advantage over the Rush in the 11-game season series with two games remaining, winning five of nine games with a 5-4-0 record though splitting the road portion of the set with two wins aside. The Steelheads have won both three-game weekends head-to-head with two wins each and split their first meetings in a two-game weekend. The Steelheads own a 47-22-5 overall record against the Rush and are 24-12-1 at The Monument.

Last Night: The Steelheads’ late comeback fell short in a 5-2 loss to the Rush. The Rush came out of the gates with the first tallies of the night, striking up two in the first period: one on a blueline shot and the other on a give-and-go that snuck behind the Steelheads defense. In the second period, the Steelheads posted more pressure early in the frame, but the Rush added another tally, this time on the power play on a deflection, to make it 3-0 leading to the third period. The Rush added one more before the Steelheads found life late thanks to two tallies by Yauheni Aksiantsiuk (15:45 3rd; 17:15 3rd) to draw within two, 4-2. However, an empty net goal sealed the game in the 5-2 result.

Shaved Steel: The Steelheads’ struggles following the holiday break continued in last night’s loss to the Rush, now dropping seven of their last 10 games since returning to action on December 31. The team allowed five or more goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season though are being outscored only 35-29 thanks to a pair of six-goal games on back-to-back weekends. The Steelheads have dropped six of their last seven road games following a stretch with points in five of six road contests from November 7 through December 4. This will be the eighth game on the road as part of an 12-game stretch since the holidays.

Bouncing Back: The Steelheads faltered in their opening game of the weekend for the fifth-straight week, however the team has made up for it in the following night. During that time, the Steelheads have won three of four games after dropping the weekend-opener, including a 6-3 win last Saturday in Utah and a 5-2 victory over Rapid City on December 17. The Steelheads are 7-4-0-0 on Saturdays this season as well as 7-3-0-0 when playing back-to-back nights while the Rush are just 2-6-2-0 on Saturdays with only one of those wins coming at home.

Go Go Gino: Steelheads forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk was the lone lamp lighter in Friday’s weekend-opener, scoring two goals in just 90 seconds during the late stages of the third period. The multi-goal effort is his fourth of the season as well as his second in just three games, earning his previous one last Saturday during their 6-3 win in Utah. The Brest, Belarus native is on a three-game point streak with five points (4 goals, assist), which breaks a stretch of four-straight games without points and marks five points in four games since returning from his AHL stint with the Texas Stars. Aksiantsiuk sits second on the team in goals (13) and fourth in scoring (22).

All About That Mase: Steelheads forward Mason Mitchell made his team debut in last night’s loss and earned primary assists in both third period goals scored. The Calgary, Alb. native re-joined the team just before the start of the game following his AHL PTO with the Stockton Heat and earns just his fourth multi-point game of the season. He was acquired via a trade with the Cincinnati Cyclones on January 5 and now has assists in four of six games with five of those contests with Cincinnati, posting six assists in that span since December 8. Mitchell has now reached 12 points (4-8–12) through 18 combined games this season. His career-best numbers came in 2019-20 with Cincinnati, boasting 13 points (18-13–31) in 57 games that season.

Striking Gold: For the first time this season, the Rapid City Rush are on a four-game win streak thanks to their victory to open the weekend. The win breaks the deadlock with their three-game stretch from December 10-15, when they took down Kansas City twice and the Steelheads once before dropping three of four games. While three of the wins came against the bottom team in the division, the Rush have scored 17 goals in four games while holding opponents to three goals or less in all four games. The win also marks the longest point streak of the season, separating a three-way tie for longest stretch with points. The Rush have points in nine of 11 games (7-2-2-0) and have climbed to fourth in the Mountain Division.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 37 23 12 1 1 48 .649
Tulsa Oilers 33 18 14 0 1 35 .561
Idaho Steelheads 35 19 15 0 1 39 .557
Rapid City Rush 37 18 14 3 2 41 .554
Allen Americans 31 14 12 4 1 33 .532
Kansas City Mavericks 35 17 17 1 0 35 .500
Wichita Thunder 36 12 19 5 0 29 .403

Next Game: The Steelheads and Rush finish their weekend set on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 4:05 p.m. from Monument Ice Arena. Coverage begins at 3:45 p.m. on 95.3FM/1350AM "The Ticket" & FloHockey.

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