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PREVIEW #58: Steelheads @ Walleye

Saturday, March 12th
PREVIEW #58: Steelheads @ Walleye

IDAHO STEELHEADS (29-25-3) @ TOLEDO WALLEYE (36-14-3)

SATURDAY, MAR. 12, 2022 | 5:15 P.M. MTHUNTINGTON CENTER | TOLEDO, OHRADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads continue their three-game, three-day series against the Toledo Walleye from Huntington Center.

Head-To-Head: The Walleye took the first game in the Battle of the Fish’s third season with a chance to take the weekend series with a win in the next two games against the Steelheads. The Steelheads split their last meeting against the Walleye during the 2019-20 season, winning their first road meeting in the process, but the Steelheads won all three games in Boise from Jan. 9-12, 2019. The Steelheads own a 4-3-0 record against the Walleye in their franchise series but are 1-4-0 in Toledo. The Steelheads won both road meetings against the Toledo Storm during the 2003-04 campaign.

Last Night: After a scoreless first period with a high volume of pressure from the Steelheads, the Walleye found the first tally of the second frame on the power play to snag the initial 1-0 lead. The Steelheads found their lone answer just under two minutes later thanks to a backhanded shot from defenseman Will Cullen (7:32 2nd) to tie the game, 1-1. However, the Walleye found the better chances to convert in the third period and did so twice with the difference-maker on the power play within the first two minutes, and that proved to be the difference in the 3-1 result.

Sahara Vibes: The Steelheads’ scoring woes continued into the first game of the weekend on Friday, only mustering one goal despite 37 attempts toward the net. The Steelheads have been held to two goals or less in all four games during their road trip and now have seen that in nine of their last 10 games despite holding opponents to 3.30 goals per game in that time. The Steelheads have fallen in five-straight games for the first time this season, overtaking the four-game skid following the holiday break from December 31 through January 5. The team has also dropped seven of their last nine games with 15 games remaining in the regular season.

Final Countdown: The Steelheads find themselves in the heat of the playoff race with just 15 games remaining during the regular season. The Steelheads are now four games above .500 and securely in third place in the Mountain Division, however with the Rapid City Rush sitting nine games above .500, the Steelheads are closer to the battle for the final position than they are at the top. The Allen Americans jumped into fourth place with their win over Tulsa last night to leap over the aforementioned team just two games back of the Steelheads. Third place through seventh place all sit within a five-game window and a six-point spread.

Cull of the Wild: Steelheads defenseman Will Cullen made an immediate impact in his Steelheads debut, scoring the team’s lone tally in the second period. The Pelham Manor, N.Y. native is on a three-game point streak dating back to his last two games with the Worcester Railers, posting two goals and one assist since February 6 while also tallying points in five of his last six contests (4-3–7). With only one shot on net last night, he improved his shooting percentage to 24.1, which now leads the ECHL. He owns seven goals and 13 points through 21 games, leading Steelheads defensemen in goals scored. He signed with the Bridgeport Islanders (AHL) to start the season before playing 20 games with Worcester.

Thome Our Homie: Steelheads goaltender Peter Thome made his professional debut on Friday night, halting 32 shots while receiving the loss. The Minneapolis, Minn. product is the first goaltender to make his professional debut with the team since Michael Bitzer on Mar. 9, 2018 against Kansas City, when he halted 17 shots in a 3-2 overtime win, which was nearly four years to the day. Thome was a former 6th Round Pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2016 NHL Draft and played four seasons at the University of North Dakota before being part of the first NCAA Division I team for the University of St. Thomas.

Coming For Air: The Toledo Walleye are working their way out of their own winning struggles as of late while coming during a majority of time at home. The Walleye have won three of five games, but expanding the view sees wins in three of seven contests since February 26, playing six of those games at home and going 3-3-0 at Huntington Center. The Walleye have maintained their scoring strength despite the turbulence, averaging 3.57 goals per game but have allowed almost the same number of goals with 3.43 goals against per game. This is not only part of an eight-of-nine stretch at home but also the second of 10-straight games against the Mountain Division through the end of March.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 58 34 21 2 1 71 .612
Rapid City Rush 57 29 20 4 4 66 .579
Idaho Steelheads 57 29 25 2 1 61 .535
Allen Americans 53 24 22 6 1 55 .519
Tulsa Oilers 55 26 25 2 2 56 .509
Wichita Thunder 56 24 24 8 0 56 .500
Kansas City Mavericks 59 27 28 3 1 58 .492

Next Game: The Steelheads and Walleye close their three-in-three weekend on Sunday, Mar. 13 at 3:15 p.m. from Huntington Center. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket & FloHockey.tv.

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