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PREVIEW #57: Steelheads @ Walleye

Friday, March 11th
PREVIEW #57: Steelheads @ Walleye

IDAHO STEELHEADS (29-24-3) @ TOLEDO WALLEYE (35-14-3)

FRIDAY, MAR. 11, 2022 | 5:15 P.M. MTWINGS EVENT CENTER | KALAMAZOO, MIRADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads open a three-game, three-day series against the top-ranked Toledo Walleye from Huntington Center.

Head-To-Head: The Battle of the Fish makes its third-straight season of meetings with the Steelheads playing the Walleye the most out of any current Central Division opponent. In their last meeting in the 2019-20 season, the Steelheads and Walleye split a two-game weekend in Toledo, breaking back-to-back losses for the Steelheads on the road. In all three seasons since the 2018-19 campaign, the Steelheads have traveled to Toledo but have only hosted the Walleye once, sweeping all three games in Boise from Jan. 9-12, 2019. The Steelheads are 4-2-0 overall against the current iteration of the Walleye but 1-3-0 in Toledo. The Steelheads did play the former Toledo Storm during the 2003-04 season and won both games on the road.

Last Game: The Steelheads were edged out 2-1 by the Kalamazoo Wings on Tuesday night from Wings Event Center. Though no official goals were scored in the first period, the Steelheads had a tally called back for the second-straight game due to interference on the would-be opening tally. However, the Steelheads would find the first strike thanks to a one-time shot by captain A.J. White (4:43 2nd) to jump ahead, 1-0. The K-Wings also had a tally disallowed because of a kicking motion, but they would also find a tally in the second frame to tie the game. Play slowed in the third period for opportunities, but the K-Wings found the last goal to snag the 2-1 result.

Drought Conditions: The Steelheads have found themselves in a rut as of late heading into the back end of their six-game road trip. Entering tonight’s game, the Steelheads are on a four-game losing skid for just the second time this season, sharing that four-game win drought with the same 0-4-0-0 record to start the post-holiday break from December 31 through January 5. The Steelheads have been held to two goals or less in a four games as well as eight of their last nine, and Tuesday’s loss was the first time the team held an opponent under three goals in six games. The Steelheads have dropped six of eight games with their only two wins coming in post-regulation play.

Captain Climbing: Steelheads forward A.J. White is back to his scoring ways as he added his 20th goal of the season in Tuesday’s loss. The Dearborn, Mich. native now has points in back-to-back games as well as four of five contests, posting six points (3-3–6) since February 25. This marks the first time in his career that he’s reached the 20-goal plateau and is now one point from also reaching the 50-point mark for just the second time in his career. Three points during the final 16 games will overtake his career-best 51 points (16-35–51) set during the 2018-19 season, which still holds for career-highs in assists and points. White leads the Steelheads in all scoring categories while sitting second in the ECHL in power play goals (10).

Keep On Swimming: The Toledo Walleye find themselves atop the ECHL standings heading into the weekend series but have slipped more frequently as of late. The Walleye have dropped four of their last six games including a 2-1 loss on Wednesday in Wheeling, going 2-4-0-0 since February 26 and marks the longest stretch since their three-game losing skid from November 7-13 that the team hasn’t won a majority stretch of six games. The Walleye open up a 10-game stretch all against Mountain Division teams with four games against Wichita and Tulsa on the road following this weekend and a three-game home series against Allen to close out March.

Clean Hen: Walleye forward T.J. Hensick has been the most potent offensive weapon for Toledo this season and consistently one of the best across the ECHL. The Howell, Mich. product may have broken a three-game assist streak but had seven assists in that time including four on March 2 against Wheeling. At 57 points (19-38–57) this season, Hensick is not only one point from his career-high set in 2018-19 in the same number of games (47) but also ranked fifth in the league in scoring as well as second in assists behind Fort Wayne’s Will Graber (45).

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 57 33 21 2 1 69 .605
Rapid City Rush 57 29 20 4 4 66 .579
Idaho Steelheads 56 29 24 2 1 61 .545
Tulsa Oilers 54 26 24 2 2 56 .519
Allen Americans 52 23 22 6 1 53 .510
Wichita Thunder 56 24 24 8 0 56 .500
Kansas City Mavericks 58 27 27 3 1 58 .500

Next Game: The Steelheads and Walleye meet again on Saturday, Mar. 12 at 5:15 p.m. from Huntington Center. Coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket & FloHockey.tv.

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