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PREVIEW #51: Steelheads vs. Railers

Wednesday, February 23rd
PREVIEW #51: Steelheads vs. Railers

IDAHO STEELHEADS (28-19-3) VS. WORCESTER RAILERS (20-20-3)

WEDNESDAY, FEB 23, 2022 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTICKETS: CLICK HERETV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads meet the Worcester Railers for the first time in franchise history to open a three-game home weekend from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: This is the first ever meeting with the Railers since the franchise began in 2017-18 at the ECHL level, and it also marks the franchise the furthest east that the Steelheads have played in team history. However, this is the second home series against a North Division opponent after hosting the Adirondack Thunder in mid-November and taking two of three games. Including their games against the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, Elmira Jackals, Reading Royals and Trenton Devils, the Steelheads are 9-6-1 against North Division opponents.

Last Game: The Steelheads dropped their final meeting with the Kansas City Mavericks, 5-1, on Monday evening from Cable Dahmer Arena. The Mavericks came out of the gates quickly and rallied around a goal coming right after their first power play of the game to take the initial 1-0 lead. The Steelheads weathered the early storm and found a breakaway in the back half of the second period to help rally forward offensively and come into their own. Momentum didn’t convert to tallies before the Mavericks earned two more goals in the third period, but forward Zach Walker (16:42 3rd) was able to string together a tally to give the road side a chance at the comeback, 3-1. However, the Mavericks earned two more late to seal the 5-1 result.

Homecoming: Despite the loss to round out the road swing, the Steelheads have been able to perform better on the road as of late, picking up points in four of their last eight games with a 3-4-1 record. The Steelheads are in the midst of a stretch with nine-of-12 games away from Boise, and in their six road games for February have earned points in three games. Overall, the Steelheads are 8-3-2 in their last 13 games since January 26 and head to a place where they’ve taken points in 20 of 25 games with a 19-5-1 record.

Down, Not Out: While the Steelheads battle in closer games marching toward the end of the regular season, the team’s shot totals have started to slide over the team’s last six games. The team’s one shot recorded in the first period on Monday is tied for the lowest in the ECHL era, also sharing that mark from the third period of November 7’s 2-1 road win over Tulsa, and the team has been held below 30 shots in five of their last six games and averaging 28.00 shots per game. On the flip side, the Steelheads have still outshot their opponents in four of those six games, remaining stout defensively and posting 34 of 50 games (68.0%) this season.

Powering Down: The Steelheads power play has fallen into its longest slump of the season, which is an unconventional mark for the consistency of the unit throughout the season. The Steelheads are scoreless in four-straight games (12 attempts) for the longest drought of the year, breaking the three-game drought in Rapid City from January 21-23, while also not scoring in five of their last six games (1-for-19, 5.26%). However, the Steelheads are one of many teams to see a dip in overall power play conversions and still remain third in the ECHL at 22.2% on the season. The Steelheads have scored in four of seven games on the power play at home in 2022.

Take A Walk: Steelheads forward Zach Walker continues to be the topic of offensive conversation, scoring the only two goals in regulation against the Mavericks last weekend. The Boise native is now on a four-game points streak, posting five points (3-2–5) since February 12 and sharing his career-best four-game streak set from January 22-28 though is outscoring that four-point effort. He’s also on a three-game goal streak, which ties a team-high for the season shared with forward Luc Brown’s four goals from December 3-8 and Chase Zieky’s four goals from January 7-14. Walker is having the best stretch of his career with 11 points (5-6–11) over his last 15 games and now owns 19 points (8-11–19) on the season.

Chugging Along: The Worcester Railers are not only in the midst of a six-game Mountain Division road trip but also on the upswing in their pursuit for the postseason. The Railers just broke a four-game win streak with their loss on Monday but have taken points in 10 of their last 13 games since January 22 with a 9-3-1 record. In that time, the Railers have scored four or more goals in eight of their nine wins as well as five-straight contests, averaging 4.38 goals per game while just breaking a streak of holding opponents to two goals or less in seven-straight contests since the start of February. The Railers are in a heated race for a playoff position in the Mountain Division, tied for fourth with the Maine Mariners in a five-team race for four sports.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 50 30 17 2 1 63 .630
Idaho Steelheads 50 28 19 2 1 59 .590
Rapid City Rush 51 25 19 4 3 57 .559
Tulsa Oilers 48 24 21 1 2 51 .531
Allen Americans 47 21 20 5 1 48 .511
Wichita Thunder 50 22 21 7 0 51 .510
Kansas City Mavericks 50 23 24 2 1 49 .490

Next Game: The Steelheads andRailers meet again on Friday, Feb. 25 at 7:10 p.m. from Idaho Central Arena. Tickets are available by calling 331-TIXS or going to idahosteelheads.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & FloHockey.tv.

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