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PREVIEW #60: Steelheads vs. Grizzlies

Friday, March 18th
PREVIEW #60: Steelheads vs. Grizzlies

IDAHO STEELHEADS (30-26-3) VS. UTAH GRIZZLIES (35-21-3)

FRIDAY, MAR. 18, 2022 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTICKETS: SOLD OUTTV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads open a five-game homestand with the first of two games against the Utah Grizzlies from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have taken five of the nine games against the Grizzlies so far in the 16-game series with seven games remaining over the final 13 games of the season. The two teams split their six-game stretch in January with three wins each, bringing the Steelheads to a 5-4-0 record with only one post-regulation game: January 8 in Boise (4-3 SO). This is the only meeting with the Grizzlies not part of a five- or six-game series this season. The Steelheads are 113-55-26 against the Grizzlies all-time while going 62-24-13 at home.

Last Game: The Steelheads closed their road trip with a 5-3 win over the Toledo Walleye on Sunday evening from Huntington Center. After the first half of the first period going back and forth, the Walleye netted two goals in 69 seconds in the back half of the frame to hop out to a two-goal lead before Steelheads forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk (17:44 1st) executed a textbook wall pass for his own tally on a takeaway to cut the lead down to 2-1. The Steelheads’ first power play of the game broke their man-advantage scoring skid thanks to forward Shawn McBride (PP, 12:11 2nd) on a flip through the netminder’s pad to tie the game, 2-2.The Steelheads opened the game in the third period with a second strike from McBride (2:27 3rd) to jump ahead, 3-2. Though the Walleye came back to tie the game, Steelheads forward A.J. White (15:38 3rd; 18:40 3rd) steps up to push in the game-winner and the insurance tally to claim the 5-3 win.

Skid Snapped: The Steelheads finished their six-game road trip with a strong win to snap their six-game losing skid both overall and on the road. The regulation win is their first since February 12 against Tulsa in another five-goal night and is the first road win since February 18 in Kansas City during a 2-1 shootout win. The three-goal third period is the most goal scored in that frame since February 2 against Jacksonville when all three goals in the game came in that period. The Steelheads return home for a five-game homestand and return to Mountain Division play with 13 games remaining.

Making Moves: The Steelheads made multiple roster moves over the week, altering the look of the lineup heading into the final five weeks of the season. On Monday, the Steelheads acquired 6-foot-7 defenseman Jack Van Boekel from Cincinnati in exchange for forward Luc Brown and then signed forward Jack Becker on Tuesday from Arizona State University. On Wednesday, the Steelheads also acquired forward Ryan Dmowski from South Carolina for forward Colby McAuley and defenseman Evan Wardley. With the additions of both Will Cullen and Peter Thome last week, the Steelheads have made nine non-AHL related moves in eight days, the most in that same span this season.

Cap’s Career Year: Steelheads captain A.J. White helped cap off the road trip with a two-goal night on Sunday, scoring both the game-winning goal and the lone insurance tally in the third period. The night is the fourth multi-goal game of the season for the Dearborn, Mich. native, and his fourth game-winning goal of the season ties him with Colton Kehler for the most on the team. In the process, he also tied his career-best in points for a single season, sharing that with his 51-point (16-35–51) campaign in 2018-19 that also stands as his career-best in assists. White’s 22 goals and 10 power play goals are the most in a single season for the Captain, and he’s six assists away from tying that career-mark.  He has 51 points (22-29–51) in 59 games this season and sits in the top-20 in ECHL scoring.

Roaring Back: Following a slight skid, the Utah Grizzlies have rebounded well heading into just one of their final two road weekends of the season. The Grizzlies have won three-straight games thanks to their sweep of the Kansas City Mavericks, but prior to that the Grizzlies had dropped six of their previous nine games, going 3-6-0 in that time with a 2-4-0 record on the road  since February 25. After being held to two goals or less in seven of those nine games, the Grizzlies have scored at least three goals in all three wins. The Grizzlies play only five of their final 13 games on the road with all five road contests coming in Boise.

Battered & Bruised: The Grizzlies come into another pivotal stretch with one of the longest lineups in the ECHL due to player availability. The Grizzlies have five players on the Injured Reserve heading into the weekend, sharing the second-most on the list with the Maine Mariners and only trailing the Allen Americans. Included on the list are difference-makers like forward Matt Boucher (13-10–23, 21 games) and captain Trey Bradley (15-23–38, 31 games), however most of their success as of late have come without them in the lineup thanks to efforts like Benjamin Tardif, who is not only coming off a hat-trick but also has eight points (5-3–8) in three games.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 59 35 21 2 1 73 .619
Rapid City Rush 57 29 20 4 4 66 .579
Idaho Steelheads 59 30 26 2 1 63 .534
Tulsa Oilers 58 28 25 3 2 61 .526
Allen Americans 56 25 24 6 1 57 .509
Kansas City Mavericks 61 28 29 3 1 60 .492
Wichita Thunder 58 24 26 8 0 56 .483

Next Game: The Steelheads and Grizzlies finish the weekend series on Saturday, Mar. 19 at 7:10 p.m. from Idaho Central Arena. Tickets are available by going to idahosteelheads.com or calling 208-331-TIXS. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & FloHockey.

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