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PREVIEW #37: Steelheads @ Rush

Sunday, January 23rd
PREVIEW #37: Steelheads @ Rush

IDAHO STEELHEADS (20-15-1) VS. RAPID CITY RUSH (18-15-5)

SUNDAY, JAN. 23, 2022 | 4:05 P.M. MTMONUMENT ICE ARENA | RAPID CITY, SDRADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads close their six-game road trip, the three-in-three weekend as well as the season series with the Rapid City Rush from The Monument.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads officially claimed the season series against the Rush heading into the final game of the 11-game set, winning six of their first 10 meetings and earning wins in all four weekend series. The Steelheads have taken five of six season series in the team’s franchise meetings and have a chance to win the road portion of the season set outright with a victory after taking three of five thus far. Overall, the Steelheads own a 48-22-5 record against the Rush as well as a 25-12-1 record at The Monument.

Last Night: The Steelheads wasted no time in pushing the effort for a rebound game. Forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk (3:17 1st) added another tally to his weekend from the right circle to take a 1-0 lead. Forward Shawn McBride (5:43 1st), who fed Aksiantsiuk for the first tally, was rewarded with a goal of his own minutes later for the two-goal advantage. The Rush and Steelheads traded turnovers leading to goals with the Rush getting theirs toward the end of the opening period and forward Zach Walker (7:34 2nd) converting on a cough up by the netminder for a 3-1 lead. The final goal game as the last insurance tally thanks to a shot from the center line by forward Chase Zieky (EN, 18:55 3rd) to seal the 4-1 win.

Halfway Point: The Steelheads completed the first half of the season with a 20-15-0-1 record and sitting securely in third in the Mountain Division. The Steelheads earn 10 wins in back-to-back quarters of the season, finishing with a 10-8-0-0 record, only trailing their first quarter record by one point. While the Steelheads have slipped more often of late, the team has won four of five games in the second contest of the weekend heading into tomorrow. The Steelheads will play 10 of their 18 games in the third quarter at Idaho Central Arena with four of their next five contests in Boise.

Long Way Home: The Steelheads open the second half of the season with the final game of a six-game road trip with a chance to break even. While the Steelheads have dropped three of five games on the road trip, they’ve won the middle game in both weekends and can rebound back to earn a 3-3-0 record for their second of three six-game road trips on the season and equal their record from their first longer stint from November 4-13 between Tulsa and, again, Rapid City. The Steelheads have scored three or more goals in three of five games, and the Steelheads own 18 of their 20 wins when scoring at least that many tallies (18-3-0-0 record). This also ends a stretch with nine of 12 games on the road, during which the Steelheads are currently 4-7-0-0.

Belarusian Bully: Steelheads forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk added another pair of points in last night’s win, including the team’s opening tally to continue his recent hot streak. The Brest, Belarus product now has multi-point games in three of his last four contests as well as back-to-back games, earning six points (5-1–6) since his return from the AHL’s Texas Stars prior to the team’s road trip. It’s the seventh multi-point game of the season for Aksiantsiuk with three of those earning one goal and one assist. His recent form moves him to 23 points (14-9–23), now leading the team in goals and third in scoring as well as breaking the top-20 among ECHL rookies in scoring and tied for second in rookie goals.

Shawn of the Living: Steelheads forward Shawn McBride had himself a strong start to last night’s win, factoring in on both goals including the game-winner within the first six minutes of the game. The native of Victoria, B.C. recorded his fourth multi-point game of the season, all of which have come in the second quarter of the season as have nearly two-thirds of his points on the year. Recently, he has points in five of seven games with seven points (3-4–7) since January 7, and 14 of his 19 points have come in the second quarter since his three-assist night on December 4 in Kansas City. McBride sits sixth on the team in scoring with his 19 points (5-14–19) and leads the Steelheads in shorthanded goals (2).

My Funny Valentini: Rush forward Ryan Valentini enters the weekend finale as the only player with a point on Saturday, thus the only player with an active point streak. The unassisted goal in the first period for the Mississauga, Ont. native extends his point streak to four games with five points (3-2–5) that began on December 27 and broken up by a stint with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, forcing him to miss eight games. Valentini has only played 11 games this season due to call-ups and injury but owns 12 points (5-7–12) this season and is one of two players with a point-per-game ratio above one (1.09), only trailing Logan Nelson (1.12) in that category.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 38 24 12 1 1 50 .658
Tulsa Oilers 34 19 14 0 1 39 .574
Idaho Steelheads 36 20 15 0 1 41 .569
Rapid City Rush 38 18 15 3 2 41 .539
Allen Americans 32 14 13 4 1 33 .516
Kansas City Mavericks 36 18 17 1 0 37 .514
Wichita Thunder 37 12 20 5 0 29 .392

Next Game: The Steelheads return to Idaho Central Arena on Wednesaday, Jan. 26 at 7:10 p.m. to open a three-game weekend against the Kansas City Mavericks. Tickets are available by going to idahosteelheads.com or calling 208-331-TIXS. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 95.3FM/1350AM "The Ticket" as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & FloHockey.

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